I found an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune today. According to the article, Obama raised (and presumably spent) nearly one billion dollars for his campaign (including related efforts).
That's a lot of zeros. If you look at the breakdown (so you don't have to read the article), it's about $770 million for the campaign, $100 million to the DNC (not counting monies that went to his campaign), $61 million for the convention in Denver, and an estimated $50 million for the inauguration events.
That's truly incredible fund raising, especially when you consider that his campaign was less than 2 years long. Where does all that money go? There's a lot of profit to all the vendors--signage, brochures, vehicle (air and land) charter, broadcast, food, reception halls, etc--and of course salaries of the staffers.
Could you imagine the good that would occur if even half of that money went to charitable organizations? If you look at some of the larger ones (with higher operating costs), you can feed a starving child for less than $1/day. Do the math, I'll wait. Did you come up with more than 2.7 million children getting fed for 10 years? I did. Money is desperately needed in this country as well. That billion may not go as far here, but it still could put a lot of food into food pantries, help homeless shelters, etc. I'll stop here; I think you get my point.
I think the time has come for some sort of reform on campaign spending. Here are some ideas I have.
- What if we forced candidates to give even 30% of what they raise to a charity (of their choosing, but must be a 501(c)(3))?
- What if vendors to a campaign must take everything over their cost and donate it to a charitable organization? This one is harder to police--vendors could cook the books, and probably wouldn't be too keen on opening up their books for public scrutiny.
- This is similar to the first thought, but slightly different. What if candidates setup their fundraising so that it would be easy for donors to give to both their campaign and one of a few charities that fit well with the views of the campaign?
I'm sure there are other things we could do--this is just a start. Hopefully something will change before the next election cycle starts in 12 months. We all know that these numbers aren't going down...
(Photo by MrR Photography)