A buddy of mine just told me about her recent trip to Jefferson City, where she was pitching some education legislation.
She was looking for a way to help charter schools with fundraising, which she thought would be an easy sell.
The instant feedback she received was something else again. In a word, it was chilling:
“Have you run it by Rex?”
“Rex” is Rex Sinquefield, the Republican megadonor who has contributed more than $37 million to candidates and their causes going back a decade, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
What Boss Tom Pendergast was to jobs and government contracts generations ago, Sinquefield is to cold, hard campaign cash today.
This week brought some other news on the out-of-control campaign money front. The Koch brothers, along with about 300 other donors, plan to dump $900 million into conservative candidates’ campaigns in 2016.
The last time I checked, $900 million is within spittin’ distance of a billion. That sum is so enormous that it threatens to eclipse whatever the national Republican Party can raise in the next presidential cycle.
In essence, the Koch brothers and their comrades are the Republican Party. Much of this comes courtesy of a series of federal court rulings that dramatically altered the campaign landscape.
Politicians are drawn to the money culture. This week, Missouri House Speaker John Diehl went from dragging his feet on ending the ridiculous practice of House committees meeting at a nearby country club to ending the practice altogether.
That the practice was halted offers hope. But that lawmakers felt comfortable holding hearings just off the 18th hole screams how invulnerable these folks feel when it comes to pushing for good government.
In a lot of states, this would have been front page news.
On Thursday, Republican Tom Schweich kicked off his campaign for Missouri governor attacking what he considers the whacked-out money culture in Jeff City.
“You can’t get anything else done until you clean up the corruption,” he said.
Voters, for sure, are weary of all the talk of big money gobbling up government. They think the whole game is rigged. They’ve disengaged.
It feels like the system is coming unhinged. Government isn’t just for sale, folks. It’s been sold, and folks like Rex Sinquefield have the receipts.