PAY TO PLAY: HOW TO GET INTO POLITICS

November 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

Looking to get into politics without being a politician. Here's an idea: invest in your local politician. Political offices are like private companies that go public to raise money. Without giving an in depth lecture on stocks and bonds, the simple explanation is as follows. 

 

Companies sell stock or shares in their company to individuals. They in turn use this money to reinvest in their business. In return for their investment the individuals now have small ownership of the company. They now reap the financial benefits if the company does well.

 

Politics often works in a similar fashion. Political campaigns are an expensive endeavor and most politicians cannot afford to finance their own campaigns. As a result they rely on outside donations and contributions (investors). The candidate then in turn uses these funds to finance their campaigns (business). In return, for their donation or contribution (investment) the individual now has small ownership of the office (business). They now reap the benefits if the campaign goes well and their investment pays off. Now you're a politician. This of course is a hypothetical comparison but the similarities are obviously there. 

 

The consummate clown, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, describes politics as a "pay-to- play" game and a broken system. 


 

Says Trump, “I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.” He added, “And that’s a broken system.”

Our community has time and time again been used as a toilet by our local politicians. It's used as a stepping stone to further their own political careers or personal agendas only to leave us drowning in their wake. As Mr. Trump so eloquently explained, some of those donations may or may not come with strings attached. 

 

We delved into the campaign finance reports of both Democratic candidate Barbara Hawkins and the incumbent, Independent State Representative Laura Thompson; each running for the House of Representatives District 120 seat. In the interest of transparency we should know if either of our candidates have potentially put their office on the open market or come with potential baggage. 

 

 

 

In comparing an overview of both campaign finance reports one glaring item stands out. Barbara Hawkins has raised substantially more than State Representative Laura Thompson to the tune of over $100k to just over $3,000.

 

 

 In sticking to the theme of this story; IF either office is for sale, the Hawkins campaign apparently has more investors than the Thompson campaign.  This however is not necessarily a surprise. Hawkins is a highly respected and successful businesswoman who has made her own way despite having an NBA legend for a brother. Let's not kid ourselves though, money begets money. If you have money you're associating with others who have money. It's no surprise then that she's been able to raise those types of funds. 

 

Her list of contributors (investors) includes: Mr. Keith Stone ($35,000), Texas Charter Schools Now ($5,000), Associated General Contractors of Texas ($3,000), Continuum Fund of Zachry Holdings ($1,000), and the Zachery Corporation ($500) among numerous others. It should also be noted that the Hawkins campaign has received more contributions from individuals than from non-individuals or businesses. 

 

This can be interpreted in a number of ways. Again if we stick to the theme of this story, it would appear that Barbara Hawkins has a long list of investors that are waiting to reap the benefits of their investment. This however is an assumptive view.  I'd like to believe that these are genuine contributions made to a candidate that has forged a solid relationship with the contributor based on mutual respect and honesty. Not one based on an "I invested in you, now I'm calling in that "favor" relationship. I'd like to believe that as a result of those relationships based on mutual respect and honesty that candidate Hawkins has the ability to bring necessary change to our community by utilizing these relationships. Hawkins is obviously well equipped to take on the challenges of our struggling community. What she's done with the youth in our community at the Gervin Academy is nothing short of remarkable. She's given opportunities to children seeking an education that they may not have had. If she wins I'd hope she'd work just as hard in Austin to bring this community opportunities it's never had. 

 

At this point you're probably wondering about State Representative Laura Thompson's campaign finance report. Which investors are lining up at her door? To be honest there's not much to discuss. 

 

 

As mentioned earlier, she's ONLY raised $3,000. Her donors include four individuals whose contributions make up the bulk of her fundraising. She does have one non-individual contribution from an organization called Independent Texans ($100). Enough said. If Thompson's seat is up for sale she's definitely giving it away cheap. Perhaps Thompson should take Hawkins to lunch and get some pointers on how to play the money game in politics. Who knows maybe they'll run into Mercedes Robinson and it'll be just like old times.

 

Maybe, just maybe Mercedes will grace them with one of her fine stories since she loves to tell all. Word is Ms. Robinson is doing quite well these days financially. Who knows maybe she'll pick up the tab. 

 

In all seriousness though one has to wonder how State Representative Laura Thompson could possibly have gotten this far with such a paltry amount of funding in her campaign. 

 

The answer in my opinion is quite simple. She did it with hard work and a lot of heart. She's had to fight every step of the way beginning with the Democratic Party filing suit challenging, the legitimacy of her signature petition to even be on the ballot. She's the first Independent candidate to hold a state office in Texas in over 50 years. This may also explain her lack of funding. She doesn't have the backing of a major political party. She's fought through the embarrassment of her past indiscretions rearing their ugly heads at the most inopportune time. She's fought through the trials and tribulations of having her campaign almost derailed by a family member in which she trusted. She's a fighter plain and simple. I'd hope she fights just as hard for her constituents in

Austin if she defeats the savvy Hawkins.  We won't find out the results of this tight race for another week. As we enter the home stretch I hope both candidates realize that their obligation and civic duty belong to their constituents who contribute their hard earned dollars on the candidates that they believe will improve their lives individually and the lives of those in the community; not to the investors looking to use the

office as their own political base to improve their bottom lines and profit margins. 

 

For more information see below for links directly to campaign reports:

 

Barbara Gervin-Hawkin's Campaign Finance Reports with Donations

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100644914.pdf

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100638695.pdf

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100633734.pdf

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100623912.pdf

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100620533.pdf

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100617555.pdf

 

Here is a summary website:

 

http://followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=37969819

 

Laura Thompson's Campaign Finance Reports with Donations

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100641151.pdf

 

http://204.65.203.5/public/100629693.pdf

 

Here is a summary website:

 

http://followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=40624898

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