One does not have to look far to see how the undue influence of money on our political process corrupts our democracy. For those of you out there that still deny that special interests purchase political power by contributing to candidate campaigns, watch Manatee County commission contests.
In District 1, candidate Ron Reagan has twice as much money to buy advertizing as his nearest competitor. Researching his donors reveals that approximately 70 percent of contributions come from developers or related enterprises.
In District 3, Steven Jonsson has three times as much money as his competitors; 70 percent of it comes from developers or related enterprises, 80 percent of his donors are from out of his district, many from the East Manatee, Myakka City area.
In District 5, Vanessa Baugh has over four times as much as her closest competitor, while over 50 percent of her donations come from developers or related enterprises. This commissioner has been praised for her foresight in supporting the proposed half cent tax referendum. It is precisely a lack of foresight, on the part of the commissioners, that has brought us to this financial crisis.
In District 7, Betsy Benac has 10 times as much as her opponent. It has long been public knowledge that she is “in bed “with the developers. Public records of her donors might as well have a big rubber stamp “development” all over it.
Money equals speech. Welcome to today’s political reality.