An Illinois businessman has now given $3.6 million to the Republican candidate for governor in that state. There are tens of millions more where that came from.
The post-Citizens United era will bring ever more cases of government for sale to the highest bidder.
With it comes the question: Do voters really want this? In our system, you have to think so by their election of the people that shape Supreme Court majorities and run for office on a platform of richest-take-all.
(Some outliers like Eric Cantor and David Sterling don’t disprove the thesis.)
It’s afoot in Arkansas, if you didn’t know. You can buy our legislature cheaply. A million bucks or so has given the Koch Bros. a budgetary veto in the state Senate. The Waltons probably spent less than that in direct campaign contributions to elect a legislature in thrall to their pet ideas on “school reform.” Winning judicial candidates got the job done with a few hundred thousand in nursing home money.
Arkansas still retains limits on direct contributions to political campaigns, but there’s nothing to stop Warren Stephens, Jim Walton or Bill Dillard from writing a $2.5 million check for an independent expenditure for a candidate of their choice. As in Illinois, they’d still have plenty left over.
As wealth grows and concentrates, voters are going to have more occasions to contemplate if this is healthy.