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Political Gumbo: Is the Money Corrupt or the Candidate?

Published on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 | 4:34 am

This week’s bowl of gumbo also serves as food for thought.

Yes, I can see an argument for limiting campaign donations, but I don’t believe campaign limits stop corruption which is the point many callers made during Monday’s City Council meeting.

On Monday local residents cited LA’s campaign limits as a model for campaign limits.

As one caller said Monday night, “In Los Angeles, the limit is $800 and there are way more people there.”

Yet maybe the caller should have looked more closely at what’s going on in the City of Angels.

LA City Councilman Mark Ridley Thomas is under indictment on corruption charges.

Ridley-Thomas is accused of conspiring with a former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admission of his son into graduate school with full tuition and a paid professorship. Among the 20-count indictment are charges of conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud.

Here’s another one: three years ago, the FBI raided the home and offices of Councilman Jose Huizar. The council suspended Huizar, barring him from exercising the powers of his office, hours after he was arrested and charged in a massive corruption case.

I am not claiming those politicians are guilty, the courts will decide that.

But this I do know, a corrupt politician will take an envelope of greenbacks no matter what the city’s finance limits are.

Hell, ban campaign donations all together and it won’t stop that candidate running to fleece the voters.

One of the other arguments made Monday was the candidate with the most money wins.

If money won the race, the last two District 1 Councilmembers would have never been elected.

Robin Salzer would have beaten Jacque Robinson in District 1, and Tyron Hampton would have never gained a political foothold. Hampton was massively outspent by Rueben Hueso in his first foray into local politics when he ran for school board.

Hampton and Robinson, both local products, did the work and connected with local voters.

Money did not dictate who Victor Gordo or Terry Tornek spoke to. Gordo spoke and walked with members of Black Lives Matter when they showed up at his house, and they didn’t have checks for him when they showed up.

Tornek and Gordo spoke at forums attended by the rich and poor alike. So did Williams, Masuda and Madison.

They knocked on every door in their districts, because that’s how you win elections in Pasadena.

There is something else to consider, campaign finance will not just keep those nasty developers out. Some of our progressives in town donate a lot of money to campaigns. At one point, just supporting police oversight got a candidate a $5,000 check.

Based on the logic of the callers on Monday, had that candidate won they would have been corrupt to vote in favor of oversight.

Also several councilmembers received money from the Pasadena Police Officers Association, and they still voted in favor of the Police Oversight Commission.

In the end, your vote is the best campaign finance limit.

If you don’t like where the money is coming from, the best thing you can do is vote for somebody else.

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