Often we elect black leaders to office and wonder why they are slow to act on our behalf. To find the answer we must track the source of their finances.
Campaign finance reports shed a small light on where the money for a campaign comes from, but they don’t tell about the soft money that is not reported, but it’s enough to give us a hint.
Every candidate files a report before an election and afterward supposedly detailing who pulls their strings financially.
The State Board of Ethics tries to get candidates to be transparent but those that try to get around the law, it fines and prevents from holding future positions until the fines are paid.
The idea is for the public to be able to follow the money and see how it connects to an official’s action.
In our area, some former candidates and one present elected official, have fines that have not been paid.
City Councilwoman Juanita G. Woods has a series of fines related to her 2016 election bid. Woods owes the state $4,360.00 for filing reports of her campaign funds after the election. The late disclosures kept her opponents from seeing the sources of her income until it was too late.
In 2008, Tony Little ran for mayor of Monroe, but Little didn’t take care of his disclosures and reports and he racked up a long list of fines that total $17,248.00. If he ever chooses to serve on any board, commission or run for public office that fine will stare him in the face.
Other locals who have fines they have ignored are Maynard Bilton who frequently runs for governor, $2,900 since 2015; Billye Goree Burns, who ran for State Representative against Marcus Hunter in 2015, $480; Vance McAlister, a congressional candidate, $1,920; Kim Ross, $1080 from a 2011 run.
The campaign reports reveal vulnerabilities as well.
For example the recent city school board elections saw the election of five blacks to the school board, but most of them received little or no financial support from the black community. Their campaigns, according to finance reports, were mostly financed by white donors and in at least one case, people who do business with the board and want more contracts.
In our community, a donation above $25.00 usually comes with strings attached. Apparently, most of the school board members have plenty of strings. Some of the black board members in the recent elections received 90% or more of their campaign finances from people outside of their districts in increments large enough to be influential later.
One incumbent received several donations from companies he funneled business to by virtue of contracts, as much as $1,500 from a single donor. The school board president even pumped $500 in his campaign.
If a board member votes for a company to receive lucrative contracts and then the company makes eyebrow-raising donations to the board members re-election campaign; it all goes in the report.
Campaign finance reports explain odd behavior as well.
It answers the question of how a school board with a supermajority of Obama loving Democrats can elect an unapologetic Trump Republican to serve as president.
Of course, it could be that the board had great confidence in the person elected.
But the campaign finance reports suggest there may other reasons.
It’s obvious, if we ever intend to control our own destiny, we must finance our own campaigns.
Otherwise, for a few dollars, we will continue our journey along the same path.