It's my way or no give away

Published May 22, 2015

Editorial by Charlotte Observer, May 21, 2015.

Have you ever contributed to political candidates or parties?

If so, you probably didn’t agree with all their policy positions. More likely, you shared enough of their principles to want to share some of your money.

Then there’s Bob Luddy.

He’s a successful Raleigh businessman. He chairs the board of the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank. He’s also a major donor to state and federal candidates and campaigns.

This week, he made it known that he’ll be a little less generous, at least to some North Carolina Republicans. In an email to N.C. lawmakers, he complained that House Republicans were too liberal with tax credits and didn’t include enough new tax cuts in their budget.

Luddy’s punishment: He’s pulling his annual donation of $25,000 to the House Republicans’ campaign committee and sending it instead to the conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity.

Luddy could have done so quietly, of course. But in posting his email on the Civitas web site, he decided instead to stomp his feet publicly at the prospect of his conservative wishes being ignored.

Even to the jaded among us, it’s a jarring example of the increasingly transactional culture of campaign donations. It’s also a blunt illustration of a system in which smaller voices are getting drowned out more and more by big money.

In North Carolina politics, Luddy is very big money. He donated $160,000 to the N.C. Republican Party during the 2014 campaign cycle, and a recent Observer analysis placed him as the top N.C. donor to federal campaigns.

So make no mistake: This week’s email was about more than $25,000. It was a shot across the fundraising bow.

It also might have been borderline illegal. Campaign finance law forbids trading a campaign contribution for a specific action by a legislator. Withholding a campaign contribution for lack of specific action may not cross that line on its own, but it’s the kind of quid-pro-quo that should make everyone squeamish.

It’s no secret that money has always talked loudly in politics. But thanks to rollbacks in campaign finance laws, along with the Supreme Court’s ill-advised Citizens United ruling, wealth has as big of an influence as ever – regardless of party. Luddy’s outburst this week is a reflection of how emboldened big donors have become.

Luddy sees it differently. Without a touch of intended irony, he told the (Raleigh) News & Observer that his move this week was designed to combat the influence of lobbyists on N.C. lawmakers and the budget. “If there’s anything that really upsets me,” he said, “it’s special interests.”

Apparently, he’s more of a purist. You know – one person, one vote. And a whole lot of dollars.

May 22, 2015 at 9:00 am
Richard L Bunce says:

A candidate makes campaign promises. People decide to support the candidate based on their campaign promises with their votes and their contributions. When the candidate is elected and then does not keep their campaign promise it is not only right but necessary that the people that supported the candidate do not support that candidate in the next election cycle. Elections have consequences and so do the actions of elected officials.

The real money issue in politics is candidates who promise large groups of voters government benefits and services to be paid for by other smaller groups of voters.

May 22, 2015 at 9:19 am
bruce stanley says:

Charlotte Observer: Give me a break! You don't like big campaign donors. Now you say you don't like donors who say they won't donate.

May 23, 2015 at 10:01 am
Richard L Bunce says:

Yes, the old media wants to return to the days where it's editorial staff had a near monopoly on political speech. They rail against the USSC CU decision that persons do not lose their First Amendment speech protections when speaking within a for profit corporate structure using corporate resources. The hypocrisy is that the editorialists are relying on their First Amendment press protections while performing press activities with a for profit corporation using corporate resources. How they will howl when the campaign finance regulation proponents call for a ban on media endorsements during an election cycle.

Because I was not a Socialist.

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Because I was not a Jew.

May 22, 2015 at 9:27 am
Norm Kelly says:

Wouldn't it be nice to see the same kind of comments about liberal donors to DemocRAT campaigns? Or are liberal 'news' media allies implying that liberal democRAT donors don't do this kind of thing? Kinda like when black churches DON'T invite liberal demoncrat pols/candidates to speak to their congregation. Any Republican or conservative that DARES step into a church to speak is immediately demonized by demons & their media allies, even if they DON'T speak about politics during their appearance. And libs/demons/media allies suggest that the church's tax-exempt status be investigated for allowing said conservative to speak. Another double standard? Is it possible? From non-biased, middle-of-the-road media people? My bad. Please accept my apologies.

May 22, 2015 at 8:55 pm
Doug Lowder says:

It is about time someone stood up to the Republicans who get elected and then go to Raleigh or DC and become democrats. People send money and elect these people to stand up for the principles that are promoted in the campaigns, not the failed progressive principles that result when they get to the legislature.