Monday, May 18, 2015

Dark Money

Pictured above is Philadelphia Mayoral Candidate, Anthony Hardy Williams....He's one of about six people running...He and I went to Middle school together...I won't say we were friends...We passed each other in the hallway...We may have known each other in passing...We certainly ran in the same circles and knew some of the same people...

He's a year older than me and was a grade ahead of me....Every Black person in our middle school however knew who he was because his father...the Late State Senator, Hardy Williams was the first Black man to have a serious chance at a run for Mayor of this city back in 1971...

The Black community of Philadelphia was galvanized behind his father and so in my middle school,next to the Jackson 5, Anthony Hardy Williams was the most popular Black kid going.....

So Flash forward to now, 2015....Some 44 years later and Anthony Hardy Williams is going to attempt to be this city's fourth African-American mayor...He may just do it... His commercials are everywhere, Television,Radio, Social Media...you name it......So why am I writing this?

What is eating you Keith?  Glad you asked...

Just a little while ago...I read in an activist newspaper that his campaign was being funded by three white guys who don't live in Philadelphia, but who have what you might call...a Super Pac and an agenda...Charter Schools...

His whole message has been favoring parents having the right to send their kids to any schools they can afford...afford being the operative word here and not being stuck with the crumbling public school system in Philadelphia...A system that would work if maybe it was funded......

I could talk about that more in another blog post....What really eats at me is that I don't like a politician who is funded by people who then can tell him what to say....I know...I must be naive...This has been going on since probably the election after George Washington's...but it's never been so overt,so in your face as it is now...

Politicians used to raise their own money or at least SOME of it....It seems this dark money being raised by independent and secret groups unaccountable to any public scrutiny is the new trend now and I find it a bit unsettling..

This is the current reality of American politics, and for those who follow presidential or congressional elections, it’s not a particularly new development. It’s the Koch Brothers and George Soros, super PACs and dark money. But now, for the first time, similar forces are at work at the local level in Philadelphia, and all signs suggest they’ll play a dominant role in this spring’s election.
Unlike the official campaign committees of the mayoral candidates, these super PACs and dark-money movers aren’t bound by the city’s strict campaign-finance limits. Candidate campaigns in Philadelphia can accept a maximum of $2,900 from individual donors. But because of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, there are now no limits on donations to super PACs, and those committees are free to independently spend as much as they can raise on behalf of whichever candidates they support.

This isn’t simply a possibility. It’s already happening. Three local investment moguls gave a combined $250,000 to a new super PAC called American Cities last year, an amount widely considered to be a down payment on larger sums to come.

This same trio of donors — founding directors of the Susquehanna International Group, a global trading firm headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, a Philadelphia suburb — plunked down $5 million on Anthony Hardy Williams’s quixotic bid to become governor in 2010, simply to raise the profile of their pet issue (education reform). This time around, Tony Williams is arguably the mayoral front-runner. Another $5 million spent on his behalf could assure him the election.


Philadelphia’s mayoral contenders tend to be  broke. When the year began, they had just one-sixth as much total cash in their campaign bank accounts as the big-name mayoral field of 2007 (which featured Michael Nutter, Chaka Fattah, Tom Knox, Bob Brady and Dwight Evans). Presumably, the tepid fund-raising pace will pick up at least a little for Tony Williams, Lynne Abraham and Jim Kenney. But given their slow start, and the general lack of enthusiasm for the field, these campaigns are probably not going to have the resources to effectively respond to a blistering series of dark-money attack ads.

And that separates Philadelphia from other cities that have already been infiltrated by dark money and independent expenditures. Unshackled political action committees have already been factors in mayoral races in Boston, New York, Newark and Chicago. But in those contests, the candidates still raised most of the money and controlled the tenor and focus of the campaigns.

I don't know how much or if Anthony Hardy Williams has raised on his own....but I do know that the media blitzkreig of his ads, the catchy slogans and pure sophistication of his ads are far superior to the other six or seven candidates and the dangerous thing is...Given that people live for soundbites and flash and very rarely look deeper, like reading, googling et al...We may get a guy who is bought and paid for and who won't serve the people of Philadelphia, but serve the dark money that put him in office....I'm just saying...

I'm not Anti-Tony Williams...I'm just concerned....as you should be.

It could happen in your city next!

1 comment:

Arlene said...

Cousin, it seems to me that our politicians have been bought and paid, for life. Some get elected and do some constituent services, but the entire point is keeping a well paying positio. I won't vote for Williams because he is just an opportunist, seeking to benefit himself. Look back to the star of his senatorial. Cooked up by his dad! And name two things he accomplished that helped the community. I think he is looking for another niche job where he can take care of his boys and the heck with the rest of us!




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