The fund-raising blues

Famed tele-lawyer, Geoff Fieger has been charged with illegally reimbursing employees for $127,000 in contributions to former Sen. John Edwards' 2004 Democratic presidential campaign. Fieger says he was singled out for political prosecution. This was inevitable with the advent of donor's bundling hard money limits of $2,300 per person.  

Much has been made of the Democratic presidential candidates' fund-raising prowess.The  irony is that such colossal fund raising could actually be a major liability in this cycle. First, it feeds on the public perception of money-grubbing politicians. Chris Matthews flogged Mitt Romney with this stick earlier this spring in a drive-by hit at his fund raising prowess.  Second, collecting all this money increases the risk of receiving embarrassing contributions and making foolish expenditures.

When it gets out that Charles Manson is one of your contributors, or in Mrs. Bill Clinton's case fugitive felons, there's gonna be some ‘splaining to do. Obama had to return some contributions last March and Bill Richardson was compelled to return contributions from Manny Aragon. Earlier this year, the former New Mexico Democrat Senate President Pro Tem was charged with taking $700,000 in kickbacks in connection with an $83 million contract for construction of a New Mexico courthouse. Aragon and three co-defendants have pleaded not guilty in the case, which is pending in an Albuquerque court. 

One thing the Republicans can probably count on is the Democrats' propensity to squander their money. Last year the New York Times reported on Mrs. Bill Clinton's profligate ways in her Senate Campaign.

She had only token opposition, but Clinton spent more on her re-election, almost $30 million, than any other candidate for Senate last year. Where did all the money go? Mainly it went to build her presidential campaign apparatus, but Mrs. Clinton also bought more than $13,000 worth of flowers, paid $27,000 for valet parking, and doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to a bunch of consultants and aides.

Mrs. Bill Clinton is not alone in her free-spending ways among her Democrat brethren. After the dust settled in the 2004 campaign and Howard Dean's insurgent campaign had imploded, it soon came out his campaign burned through nearly $41 million in 3 months in two states to get a whopping 300,000 votes in the primary.

The consequences of this year's fund race are obviously still unclear. Nevertheless, it's probably safe to predict that come 2009, the winner of the fund race won't be flying around in Air Force One. While, money is the mother's milk of campaigns, it's not the only thing.