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Politics for kindergartners
by Nathan Orme
Mar 13, 2011 | 654 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every night during dinner, my girlfriend and I watch “Jeopardy.” It’s a way to feed our minds as we feed our bellies.

OK, really we’re practicing to be old people.

Thanks to modern technology we’re able to digitally record the show and watch it after the original broadcast. What’s even better is we get to fast forward through the commercials.

Even seeing them in high speed, I get to know the show’s advertisers pretty well. Something I learned last election season is that “Jeopardy” viewers are a prime target for political ads. I fast forwarded through a lot of campaign commercials last year.

A bulk of those ads aired during the final three or so months leading up to the November election. A March 4 report out of Las Vegas has revealed that some money raised by gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid, mostly likely used in part to pay for some of those TV spots, was gained in violation of Nevada campaign contribution limits and filtered through fake political action committees, or PACs.

My eyes feel so dirty.

Political reporter Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun did some digging and found that a bunch of PACs on Reid’s contribution paperwork were named as though they were scattered throughout rural Nevada but all had the same Las Vegas address. There are a lot of details, but ultimately his work showed that these PACs were set up solely for the purpose of enabling the Reid campaign to accept 75 times the limit of $10,000 per donor.

Reid responded by saying he was advised by his lawyers and the secretary of state’s office that this move was OK. Secretary of State Ross Miller’s office denied giving this maneuver the thumb’s up.

In a TV interview about the report, Reid said he was “comfortable that it was transparent and I moved forward.” He went on to say that if the laws need to be changed, somebody should change them. “I was operating under the rules as I understood them,” Reid said.

It appears the issue will need to be investigated to see if it was actually a loophole or if the law was broken. It was a lawyer who got Reid into this mess, and it appears he now will rely on one to get him out of it. It does not take a fancy degree, however, to know what Reid and his cronies did is exactly what the campaign contribution laws intend to stop. If he is not found guilty in a court of law, the court of public opinion will likely be less forgiving.

For a moment, let’s think about this situation like kindergartners. Little Rory and his friends want to go out and play, but papa Harry tells his son to be home for dinner. Rory kicks the ground in dismay, knowing his father’s edict will make him look like a pansy with the guys and cut short his fun. After several hours of football and with his team on the verge of a comeback win, it starts to get dark and Rory’s tummy starts to rumble. He knows that winning the game will make him late for dinner, but the thrill of victory is better than another night of meat loaf. Resigned to defeat, Rory puts his head down and starts to walk home when his weaselly friend, a la Eddie Haskell, yells at him, “Hey, your dad said to be home for dinner but he didn’t say what night!”

Thinking this was a pretty smart rationale to do what he wanted, little Rory perked up and ran back to the playing field. Several hours later, Rory’s team lost the football game anyway. Lucky for Rory, papa Harry was called away to an emergency business meeting in Washington, D.C., so he was not around to spank Rory for his intentional misinterpretation of a rule. Rory thought he got away with it, but several months later his Eddie Haskell friend let it slip what they had done within earshot of Rory’s tattling little brother, who then told papa Harry. Rory tried to blame Eddie, but knew he couldn’t pass the buck and that he would be grounded for a long time.

It is often said that if politicians would act more like normal people that they’d do a much better job. This often comes up in terms of budgeting, comparing the government’s need to reduce its spending to a family’s need to make cuts to household expenses. Following rules should be no different: If it feels wrong or sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to be home for dinner.

Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at norme@dailysparkstribune.com.
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