In two (2) recent editorials, “Big money flows in the District” (October 27, 2015) and “Ms. Bowser’s sanctioning of a political action committee is a terrible move” (October 18, 2015), The Washington Post has criticized District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser for “sanctioning” the creation of the “FreshPAC” (political action committee). Moreover, in the opinion of the editorial board, the FreshPAC should be eliminated.
The debate is not whether donations as presented to the FreshPAC are legal; they are permissible under current DC law. Whether residents of DC seek and the Council of the District of Columbia pass new limiting legislation is at their wisdom and will.
A classroom project type search of the contribution databases of the Federal Election Commission, DC Office of Campaign Finance, and Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System is somewhat revealing; not only regarding The Washington Post, but also possibly of certain key executives, past and present. While it can be argued there may be multiple persons having the same names; living in the same city and state, it would be difficult to make that defense for a major corporation.
The wisdom or propriety for the creation of this PAC will be sidelined here to raise a different issue. Does The Washington Post editorial board and its associate editorial page editor, Ms. Jo-Ann Armao object to any contribution to any PAC, or just to those to which The Washington Post objects? Is The Washington Post prepared to set an example and not make any PAC or lobbying donations in the future?
The principle being advanced by these editorials would have been strengthened had The Washington Post confessed its own sins and requested forgiveness. Yes, individuals and corporations have the right to make political donations as he, she, or it feels appropriate. However, the high ground argument of the editorial board of The Washington Post against PAC donations in this instance is questionable. It will have to make a fresh start.
As evidenced by state politics of Virginia. Illinois, New Jersey, and Louisiana, big money can have a negative impact on political leadership. Big money contributions to PACs does have an access advantage over small individual donations. However, not all PAC’s and newspapers are equal or true and honest representative voices of the public.
Is it a false equivalency to argue a newspaper’s endorsement of a candidate could be viewed as a subliminal political PAC contribution? If newspaper editorial boards do not feel editorials value and influence, why do they feel the need to make them? At this present moment and in this manner, the editorial board of The Washington Post is intellectually challenged to decry the creation of the FreshPAC.
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