The Lonely Centrist

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Tainted" Cash

Here's something I don't understand: the concern about "tainted campaign cash." In its latest manifestation, it is the cry that any candidate who received money from Bob Ney must return it (it is common for safe incumbents with lots of money in their campaign accounts to make contributions to other candidates in their party).

I mean, I do understand it, but purely as a political gesture - and it is so transparently stupid, why does the press take it seriously?

Take the Ney example. The overwhelming majority of Ney's campaign cash is perfectly legit, any way you cut it. And he gave some of it to other candidates, according to the law, and with no allegation or hint of impropriety. Why should those candidates return it? Should store owners return money they earned from selling goods to Mr. Ney? How do you know the money you received wasn't "tainted?" If the company you work for is suddenly found to have violated anti-trust laws, should you return your honest earned pay?

What would be the consequences of returning Ney's contributions? One would be that it would mean more money back in Ney's campaign accounts, which he can use to pay for his legal defense. How is this just? Another possibility would be to give the money to charity. But then the charity would be "tainted." Perhaps the only real solution is to take out the cash and burn it.

That should satisfy the "ethics" lobby.

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