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Opinion Letters Money buys candidates and influence elections

“Follow the money!” This is the usual advice for anyone trying to find out who is behind activities such as corruption or bribery. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United has made both these activities legal. Millions of dollars have been spent by “Crossroads GPS,” created by Karl Rove with some Wall Street millionaires, and other PACs including three bankrolled by Art Pope, “Americans for Prosperity,” “Civitas Action” and “Real Jobs NC.” The sole purpose of these PACs is to buy candidates, influencing the outcome of elections for their own political gain, corrupting our democratic election process.

Traditionally, candidates raised money through their supporters who believed in what the candidate stood for. Local voters knew their candidates and voted for the candidates who best represented their views. “May the best man win!” Tragically, it is no longer the “best man” but the candidates supported by the PACs with their millions of dollars who are the winners. The outcome of the election of 2010 provides us with an excellent example. Our then State Senator, John Snow, who grew up in these mountains and knows and loves the people here, was defeated by less than 200 votes and thousands of PAC dollars spent to smear him and support his opponent, Jim Davis. John Snow represented his people. He sat on their porches and talked to them. He listened to their problems 24/7. He worked tirelessly, supporting his constituents and the issues affecting them. Citizens of this area backed him with their dollars and their hearts, but it was not enough. Whose money put Jim Davis is office? Outsiders who know nothing about our community and people. Why did these PACs spend thousands of dollars to influence the outcome of an election with little knowledge of the candidates beyond their party affiliations?

It is no surprise that Jim Davis is supporting the agenda of the PACs whose money bought his election. He” kept his promise.” The penny sales tax was eliminated along with thousands of teachers’ jobs. One of Art Pope’s goals is to dismantle the public school system. (He has several private “academies” in various stages of readiness.) Inadequate funding of state and local government has resulted in massive job losses, crippling critical government services. Funds to train new state highway patrols have been cut. (This means all of Macon County may have just two state patrolmen if a couple of them retire as scheduled.) Where are these “Real Jobs NC” Art Pope and his backers promised us?

Crossroads GPS plans to pour millions of dollars into the 2012 election to defeat Heath Shuler, Governor Perdue and Democratic governors in other states, even though Karl Rove and his millionaire friends don’t live in North Carolina and may have never set foot in our state or any other targeted states. The goal of this PAC and others is to buy the support of elected officials who will oppose taxes on the wealthy, deregulate business and financial institutions, and eliminate laws protecting our environment. Follow the money!

Margery Abel — Franklin, N.C.


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