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Joe Henderson: Hillary Clinton, Citizens United and ‘never-ending’ thirst for cash

in 2017/Top Headlines by

One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency has been her opposition to Citizens United.

From the podium, she preaches that she doesn’t like the idea of the wealthy few using their money to buy influence over policies that determine the future for the rest of us. She says he wants to overturn that controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that has allowed our politics to be bartered out to the uber rich.

Well, OK.

She says all that, but then The Washington Post reported Sunday that her campaign raised $1.14 billion by the end of September. More than a fifth of that came from just 100 donors.

The top five donors, the Post reported, included two hedge fund managers and one venture capitalist. Combined, they have contributed one out of every $17 Clinton raised. And as you read on SaintPetersBlog.com, Hillary will be in Florida Tuesday for what has been billed as “the largest fundraising event” in Florida’s history.

Got $100,000 laying around? Donate it, and you can take part in a special host reception with HRC. For a mere $5,000, you get dinner and reception.

With two weeks to go and Hillary way out in front of Donald Trump in the polls, this might seem like the political equivalent of running up the score on an overmatched opponent. The bigger question is, how much is enough to quench Clinton’s never-ending thirst for money?

And the biggest question is, what does that money buy? Look, the news business has allowed me to get to know some really rich people, and they have one thing in common: When they invest this kind of money, they expect something in return.

Just follow the trail of breadcrumbs or, in this case, the dollar bills and see where it leads.

Trump’s donors are the same way, of course, so let’s not pretend Clinton’s voracious appetite for dollars is unique. But whether he actually believes his words or not, Trump has made a good case with the “quid pro quo” label he has tried to stick on Clinton.

Trump rose to the Republican nomination on the winds of disgusted Americans who feel locked out of the political process by the wealthy. They believe the game is rigged against them. That same theme inspired Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

That attitude isn’t likely to change after the election.

Clinton’s supporters squirm a little uncomfortably when the subject is money. No one is being naïve, though. It takes a lot of cash to run a national campaign. She is running for president of the most powerful nation on earth, not a seat on the county commission or school board.

The great Bobby Bowden once said of a freshman player who leaped into his arms on the sideline during an over-exuberant moment, “Recruiting season is over. He’s got to stop calling me Bobby.”

Hillary Clinton is recruiting America now, and by most accounts, she is doing such a good job that even Trump’s closest surrogates concede she is likely to win.

But next Jan. 20, when we start calling her Madam President instead of Hillary and it comes time to make good on her posturing against Wall Street and Citizens United, the big players will be in the background, expecting the return on their investments.

What then? Too often in politics, the answer is that you get what you pay for.

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Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

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