Monday, July 17, 2006

Rich Buy Political Influence on Both Sides of the Atlantic

As Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza report in the Washington Post, a network of wealthy liberal donors is spending tens of millions of dollars to create a network of think tanks and other organizations to support liberal political ideas and leaders. The group, which calls itself the Democracy Alliance, vets left-leaning groups for possible donations, steering money only to those which meet both its ideological and secrecy requirements.

Yes, secrecy requirements. Many of the donors don't want their names revealed to the public. So much for political courage. In other words, they want the power but none of the accompanying responsibility.

Across the pond, as the BBC reports, a scandal involving Prime Minister Blair's chief fundraiser (and tennis partner) is shaking English politics. Lord Levy, apparently known as Lord Cashpoint for his fundraising prowess, has been arrested on suspicion of offering peerages to wealthy donors in exchange for undisclosed loans to Blair's Labour Party.

The English scandal and its numerous American counterparts highlight the constant struggle democracies face in maintaining the power of the electorate within the system of government. Private individuals and groups will always seek to coopt the people's government for their own purposes, if possible, often using their financial power as a means to do so.

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