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Local donations to presidential campaigns

Original post made on Aug 13, 2012

Local residents listed here contributed at least $2,500 to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, according to data through June 30, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 13, 2012, 11:49 AM

Comments (31)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm

So whats the point of this story? Slow newsday in Palo Alto? Maybe it's to fill space in order to sell more ads? Or maybe it's The Palo Alto Weekly's continuing effort to divide the community. The community as a whole is tired of the local print media adding divisive articles that offer no meaningful information and are only meant to serve the greed of local publishers.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Is any of this money spent in California or is it all exported to needy communities elsewhere?


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I think it is completely wrong to make public where private, unelected people choose to donate. The only purpose is to allow harrassment of individuals. Donations should be private.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Yup, when it comes to public office, we deserve the best individuals that money can buy. Aren't previous abuses the reason that these "donations" (non tax deductible) have become a matter of public record?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NotaPaloAltoIssue
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm

So what's the issue here? And why some outspoken individuals always get banned for no reason for posting !


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Wouldn't it be nice to have $2500 to throw away on some useless stupidity?

Well, I don't. I have to pay taxes. Maybe the 1%'ers do.

If I did I certainly wouldn't waste it on either one of these bozo's.





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Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Donating to a presidential candidate at these levels -- and actually, I believe any total yearly donation over $200 is made public law -- obviously does not buy you any influence. So the main effect of this kind of disclosure requirement is to open people to harassment or discrimination. For example, there are many bosses out there who would think less of an employee, or a potential employee, if they donated to the "wrong" party.

I don't see any reason why donations at this level (unable to buy influence) should make the donating person's name public. And this is basically for the same reason we don't make whom you vote for public.


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Posted by Skeptical-- You've got it right
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm

The entire reason for this sort of "disclosure" law is the harassment of people with unpopular views-- in most cases, though not always, conservatives..

Campaign donations should be made entirely private, with a possible exception for those giving at the 10K+ level (to aligned PACs) in congressional races and 100K+ in Presidential races.

Donation limits and disclosures simply enforce the hegemony of the MSM to decide what views people are allowed to hold.


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Posted by Thunderstruck
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 14, 2012 at 1:16 am

Nothing much will change, regardless of who's "elected"


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Posted by Transparency
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2012 at 8:59 am

"Donation limits and disclosures simply enforce the hegemony of the MSM to decide what views people are allowed to hold."

How is zero transparency in buying elections is a good thing?

"Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all super PACs put together, new spending estimates show.

These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don't have to disclose their donors to the public.

The two nonprofits had ***outspent all other types of outside spending groups*** in this election cycle, including political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees, a ProPublica analysis of data provided by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG, found.

Super PACs, which do have to report their donors, spent an estimated $55.7 million on TV ads mentioning a presidential candidate, CMAG data shows. Parties spent $22.5 million.

Crossroads GPS, or Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, is the brainchild of GOP strategist Karl Rove, and spent an estimated $41.7 million. Americans for Prosperity, credited with helping launch the Tea Party movement, is backed in part by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, and spent an estimated $18.2 million." Web Link

Yeah, let's let the poor billionaires buy our country in the privacy of their own home.








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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

Transparency is for the ELECTED officials..who are being paid by US, not for US, individuals. I really don't want to know who my neighbor, boss, employee, librarian, etc is donating to. And I don't want anyone else to know who I donate to.The only purpose of disclosing donations from private individuals is the same as the constant push to disclose Union Votes...harrassment. "Transparency" is for the elected folks, a concept which has been somehow lost.


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Posted by Transparency
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

"Transparency is for the ELECTED officials."

Not for those that buy their elections.


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

"Buying" elections is not what you and I, or any group of you and I's so to speak, do when we send in our money to support one candidate or another. That is voting with our wallets,as it were. "Buying" elections is when a politician promises something in return for a vote, in other words "buys" the votes.

I strongly object to promising something for nothing to get votes, I have no problem with millions of people sending money to their candidates. Using that donor list as a public flogging post is wrong.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thanks for publishing this list of donors. The USA, as a democracy, should be open to disclosure of what special interests -- and which people give more than the average -- to campaigns. Shel Adelson, a kingpin in Las Vegas, has given
close to $50 million through individual and SuperPac donations to Gingrich and now, Romney. His Las Vegas empire is being investigated for multiple money launderings and other illegal activities.

Solyndra's execs, likewise gave to Obama.

It's good to know who influences the policies of our elected officials -- and why.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

I'd like to know from WHERE PaloAltoonline (the Weekly) obtained this information.

And I agree it should not be published.

This is the first time I recall seeing this kind of info in print - why now?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Transparency
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

""Buying" elections is not what you and I, or any group of you and I's so to speak, do when we send in our money to support one candidate or another"

No matter what evidence to the contrary is presented to you? Not what you were thinking in 2008 when you were whining about Soros.

"Super PACs, which do have to report their donors, spent an estimated $55.7 million on TV ads mentioning a presidential candidate..."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by One of the 99 percent in Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Of course, people are free to donate and give money to any cause or person, and for whatever reason. And, this is the way it should be. This is America, afterall. The unfortunate perception of the above article demonstrates that people would rather give large sums of their either hard earned, or "un-earned" money to what seems to be an almost useless cause, electing a President to the U.S. office, as opposed to giving the money to local organizations that help individuals; or directly to the individuals who have need. Truth be told, what we have seen over the last 3 1/2 years - a stagnant economy with very little GDP growth; horrific unemployment - in the millions of people; partisan bickering back and forth with no real results; the passing of a National Health plan that resembles that of Switzerland (this may be one good result over the last 3 1/2 years keeping our fingers crossed on this one so that everyone will have health care insurance); an increase in racial and social injustice; and an overall zapping of the American spirit. The Olympics over the past two weeks have done more to help raise the Amercan spirit and hope, than the existing President. And of course, Romeny has been running for President for how long now? Basically a couple of decades, and chances that he can get the job done are even slimmer. So, the real unfortunate thing about the above donations is they resemble the bank bailouts---those monies will not trickle down and help the real people who need help in this American atmosphere and economy. Those monies will just help continue the status quo, regardless of who is elected. What this country needs now Presidential wise is a Bill Clinton. At least during his time, the nation had a surplus budget; people could find decent careers and jobs enabling them to support and sustain their families; and people were not in constant fear of losing their homes either purchased r rentals. Of course, the challenges being faced by most Americans are very foreign to people in Palo Alto, and the surrounding communities; hence their ability to give large sums of money to a Political campaign so that one person can get elected. At the end of the day, there is no real positive impact for the vast majority of Americans. This is truly wasted money, but all those folks above have it to waste - shame in an economy like this, but it is their perogative. This is America.


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Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm

All those people who are offended by this story should not have read it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Transparency East Palo Alto:

I think you may be mistaken about the super PACs. I believe they DON'T have to reveal who has donated. And the donations may not have a cap either.

As to why publish the list of donors. A lot of readers must not get out much. Lists of donors are published in a great many places. Have you ever opened the Weekly or the SF Chronicle during the holidays? Lots of donors to holiday giving funds— all listed under their category of gift. Ever go to a play? Several pages of the program often go to listing donors. Again, the category of the size of the gifts is listed also. Some donors would be insulted not to be listed as supporters of the program.

Letting the public know who's supporting what with $$$ is good policy and courteous acknowledgement of generosity. It's the secret givers you want to worry about, but then you wouldn't know whom to worry about because it is a secret.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anciana
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Wow, I'm absolutely staggered to see that the majority of the people who have commented here on this issue would prefer that information on major donors to campaigns should not be made public. I'm with
Transparency all the way. Too many people are beholden to their huge supporters, to the detriment of the non-one-percenters. If you ever read the Mercury News article on the number of members of the California legislature who have "sponsored" legislation on various issues, not because the legislation would be truly beneficial, but because someone representing some special interest gave them a huge donation, and perhaps even "helped" them write the legislation,I don't think you would wish that all donations should be private.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don G.
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Reminds me of the publication of all the names and addresses of those who contributed to support prop 8. This time it's equal exposure for both parties.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by VoxPop
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm

These campaign donation lists are required by state and federal laws.


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Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm

To those who think "secret giving" is bad, how do you feel about secret voting? Why all those curtains around the voting booths? It's because many people feel intimidated or otherwise influenced by people seeing who they are voting for. Donating a few hundred dollars to a candidate has absolutely no influence on legislation or other politician. And for larger races (like president, US Congress, etc.), donating thousands has no "influence" effect. But it does make pretty clear who a person is voting for, and opens them up to discrimination or harassment in their professional and personal lives.

I would politely ask that those in this discussion touting the benefits of "disclosure" really think a little more clearly to distinguish the cases where disclosure really provides a public benefit from the cases where disclosure unduly compromises privacy (in other words, where there is a risk of significant political influence, and where there is not).


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Posted by Its fun
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I enjoy seeing which multi millionaires donate to the candidate who promises to reduce their taxes. And the ones whose spouse also donates, so they can give $5,000. It's an investment, not a donation.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Voting is an individual act. Secrecy there is desirable. Otherwise it might be difficult for the 99% to outvote the 1%. But contributing to a campaign is done for no other reason than to influence how others vote. A small amount of money may influence one other voter; a large amount, several other voters. Either way it's like trying to vote more than once, and that's why transparency is mandated by law.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

@Skeptical, that's a valid point. Rephrasing, what amount of donation is so immaterial that it has no potential influence on the politician. From experience, I would say that is a pretty low number. Moreover, through bundling and giving across multiple campaigns and candidates (all Bay Area democratic congressional candidates, all California statewide republicans), a donor can show they "support the cause," significantly increasing their influence with the party and all its candidates. That's invisible unless you have disclosure level for each donation at a fairly low level.

Follow the money, as Deep Throat put it. It doesn't tell you everything, but it can tell you a lot.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

@Skeptical, that's a valid point. Rephrasing, what amount of donation is so immaterial that it has no potential influence on the politician. From experience, I would say that is a pretty low number. Moreover, through bundling and giving across multiple campaigns and candidates (all Bay Area democratic congressional candidates, all California statewide republicans), a donor can show they "support the cause," significantly increasing their influence with the party and all its candidates. That's invisible unless you have disclosure level for each donation at a fairly low level.

Follow the money, as Deep Throat put it. It doesn't tell you everything, but it can tell you a lot.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

@musical,

>>"Otherwise it might be difficult for the 99% to outvote the 1%"

Yes, in a perfect world, but in the world we live in 50% of voters pay no income taxes, yet they are allowed to vote money out of the pockets of the taxpayers and into their own pockets.

How would you fix that?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Disclosure
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm

All individual donations have been publicly available for many years (as they should be).

Here is a search engine that lets you look at all donations by name, address, or employer. Have fun!!!!!!

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by What influence?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2012 at 11:58 am

Look at all of this generosity to both candidates! Now they will completely ignore California because we are not a swing state...until it's time to raise more money!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mattie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2012 at 12:20 am

@Skeptical. I'm not originally from this area, but I can tell you that where I'm from, namely rural Illinois, Dirty Deeds are often done Dirt Cheap. In our communities maybe we should be able to give $2500 anonymously... but there's a line somewhere that's crossed between "drop in the bucket" support for a candidate who's already out there and buying support for what benefits your narrow economic interest.

I tend to want to err on the side of disclosure, especially with my background of watching factory owners buy local governments and profiteer at the public's expense. If you want to give bucks to Obama, Romney, the RNC, the DNC, the Kato Institute, the Brookings Institute... fine, but OWN IT! That goes for corps too... and get rid of the backdoors. Citizens United is a travesty to transparency, the central tenet of a viable democratic republic.


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