Gambling interests are flooding the political process in Alabama with money. That much is clear. But what often is not clear is which politicians are getting the money. And that should scare the daylights out of Alabamians interested in open and good government…
The problem is that Alabama’s incredibly weak campaign disclosure law essentially allows all of these donations to the laundered through PAC-to-PAC transfers so that the public cannot tell which candidates ultimately receive the funds.
From the B’ham News,July 8
Milton McGregor, who owns the Birmingham Race Course and VictoryLand in Macon County, gave $603,000 to the Alabama Education Association’s political action committee on Nov. 1, 2006. The same day, AEA’s PAC gave $603,000 to the Fund for Alabama’s Children and Education, which the same day gave $503,000 to Alabamians for a Better Plan and the next day gave $100,000 to Leader PAC.
There, the trail sort of ends. But, Alabamians for a Better Plan had in the weeks before given $947,250 to Democrat Lucy Baxley’s gubernatorial campaign. So, was this a back-door way to get McGregor’s money into Baxley’s campaign coffers?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
What is the point of having any campaign finance laws is they can always be skirted by PAC-to-PAC transfers? The Advertiser came to the conclusion that the only way to get rid of PAC-to-PAC transfers is to vote out the legislators who continue to promise to outlaw these transfers but never do.
Such large amounts of money can corrupt the political process by making candidates more beholden to certain special interests with deep pockets than they are to the electorate. But the problems with such infusions of money are heightened dramatically when the links between the donor and the recipient are hidden.The Alabama Legislature should ban PAC-to-PAC transfers of funds, of course. But since legislators are among the biggest recipients of such funds, that’s not going to happen unless the state’s voters make a lot of changes in the makeup of the Legislature.