Ossoff Spends Six Times More Than Opponent, Complains About ‘Money In Politics’

Jon Ossoff wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

Concluding the most expensive House race in history, Republican Karen Handel emerged victorious and became Georgia’s first woman elected to Congress. She defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in the special election to replace former Rep. Tom Price after he vacated the seat to become secretary of Health and Human Services.

Before the polls had closed, the ambitious 30-year-old made some ironic statements to NPR.

“The role of money in politics is a major problem and particularly the role of unchecked anonymous money,” Ossoff stated. “There have been super PACs in Washington who have been putting up tens of millions of dollars of attack ads in air for months now.”

Ossoff continued on in the interview and expressed the need for campaign finance reform.

These statements are quite perplexing (and reek of hypocrisy) when you consider the money raised and spent by his team. Liberals across the country (mostly from California and New York) poured money into Ossoff’s campaign under the impression he’d actually win. The former Hill staffer raised more than $24 million – compared to just $4.5 million raised by Handel’s team.

That’s almost six times more than Handel.

Near the end stretch of the campaign, Ossoff netted nearly nine times as many donors from California than from his home state. Between March 29 and May 31, his campaign reported $456,296.03 from California – only $228,474.44 from Georgia.

Who benefited more from “money in politics?”

Those on the left have countered that Handel benefited more from outside spending. This is true – $18.2 million in outside spending went towards helping Handel. Democrat’s were assisted with $8 million from outside groups. However, when you consider all money combined (official campaign fundraising and outside spending), Ossoff still clearly came out ahead with millions more.

All in all, Ossoff’s team spent $25 million in Georgia’s 6th District and still finished worse than Hillary Clinton’s performance there in 2016.

 

Want an Extra $27 Billion for Education? We Have it, It’s Just being Held Hostage

One of the most common laments we hear about the public school system is that there’s simply not enough money to go around.

Failing student body? Not enough money.

Dilapidated buildings? Not enough money.

Teacher shortages? Not enough money.

Admittedly there was a time when I believed the same thing. There’s simply not enough money to go around. We can’t fix our schools until more people give up more money.

We’re too greedy!

 

We could have a healthy debate about “needs” and “fixes”. Maybe we should raise property taxes so we can pay teachers more. Or maybe we should switch to digital texts instead of traditional books. Or maybe we should just make school  a Hunger Games style competition where the one winner gets all the educational opportunities and never again has to share a locker.

But let’s leave all that behind, because there are pros and cons to all of those solutions (I stand by my Hunger Games suggestion). Forget the controversy.

What if we could inject $27 billion dollars every single year into public school system across the country right now? What would you do with that money if it were yours to evenly distribute?

This isn’t a snarky writer’s “Hunger Games” joke. This is a real figure that could have been a real boon to our education system but for the current state of bloated bureaucracy.

The problem is precisely this – while student enrollment, staff and teachers have surged over the last 20 years, school administration (the only people who don’t set foot in a classroom) has surged astronomically. The growth of distant administrative roles has been so rapid and so large that it has absorbed an astonishing amount of tax dollars every year.

Don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at some numbers provided by the Department of Education itself.

From 1950 to 2009 the overall student population in America increased by 96%. Teaching staff increased by 252%. Support staff – that includes every employee inside a school who is not a teacher – increased by 386%. Administrative staff – that means anyone who works for a department outside of the school – increased by 702%.

*These statistics can be found at the US Department of Education and the Ed Choice report for School Choice Outcomes.

Yeah, let that sink in for just a minute.

 

From 1992 to 2009 alone student population only increased by 19% while teaching staff increased by 28% and administrative by 45%.

These numbers are striking for several reasons, not the least of which is that of all the staff associated with running an education program the group with the lowest rate of increase were teachers – the only ones in this scenario actually responsible for a classroom full of young minds and their direct conduit to an education.

Its unconscionable that we hear no end to the complaints about teacher shortages and poor teacher pay and then sink unfathomable  amounts of money into paper pushers while our teachers continue to struggle in the classroom. If the entire point of a public education is to teach children, why are we spending more money on the people who never see one student during their workday?

Some people might say that all those administrators are necessary to navigate a growing education system. I imagine most people saying that are probably administrators themselves. However, there is no proof that the spending spree in staff and administrative services has helped public education in any way. Graduation rates at this moment in time are roughly about the same as they were in 1970.

It’s not helping.

But here is where all that money I was talking about earlier comes into play. Recognizing that every employee of the education system only exists to support the educated, if teacher/staff and administrative hires were balanced to directly match the growth of the student population the American public education system could save $27.1 billion dollars a year.

A year.

What could we do with $27 billion dollars every single year? We could give every teacher in America an $8700 raise.

Every single year.

We could provide $8000 in scholarships to private schools to 3.4 million students currently trapped in failing districts.

Every single year.

We could reduce property taxes (thereby giving poor Americans a greater opportunity to afford home ownership in a good school district).

Every single year.

When I look at these numbers I see a pyramid, with the children at the bottom. Our education system has become a job creation machine at the expense of the welfare of our children. They are the ones who should be the top of the pyramid. Everyone else should be holding them up.

This is a large reason I am a huge supporter of school choice. Our public education dollars have been grossly mishandled and there’s been no real oversight to this travesty of justice. Our children deserve better. Allowing parents to choose where their child goes to school puts the kids back on top of the pyramid and forces the base to readjust.

Its time for a major readjustment in this country when it comes to public education. We are failing our kids in the worst possible way – we are stealing their right to educational equality in the name of greed.

*This article was originally posted at samepagenation.com August 26, 2016

Money and the Tea Party

From January 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $49.6 million, but only gave $126,000.00 to candidate and other political committees. 71% of the money it spent went to its non-electioneering operations. That looks terrible. But it is not.

For example, the NRSC has been paying former employees who are now outside consultants. Those outside consultants have worked to place attack pieces against tea party groups in places like the Washington Post. They’ve written op-eds themselves to advance the NRSC’s agenda — in at least one case failing to disclose an income stream from the NRSC until caught.

Those are not funds paid to candidates or to get particular candidates elected, but the money certainly does advance their agenda.

Over the weekend the Washington Post ran a hit piece on tea party groups that makes it look like they are just in it for the money using similar FEC data to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Many of my friends who hate the tea party have passed around the story on twitter approvingly, accusing the tea party groups of committing fraud, being liars, in it for the money, etc.

One of the ironies is that some of these groups have rapidly begun to take on the habits of those they oppose. But not all of them have. Many of my friends who embraced the story approvingly did so oblivious to the fact that many of their favorite establishment groups behave the same or worse. More troubling, many embraced the story uncritically when it does not paint an accurate picture of some of the groups.

I won’t defend all the groups targeted because I do not trust some of the groups in the story. I do think there is corruption in the tea party movement. Interestingly, the groups most likely to be tainted are the ones who’ve been relying mostly on traditional, long time Republican operatives.

But not all of those in the article are bad.

The dirty little secret is that some of these tea party groups have learned from the establishment groups. Many of the establishment groups waving this Washington Post hit job around are guilty of some seemingly pretty bad practices. They give independent expenditure money to groups they have an ownership interest in, thereby getting a commission from the ads. Or, they give the money to friends who kick back the money.

The most common arrangement is the mail house and phone center. Often, a partner will leave the mail house or phone center, go work for the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, or various candidates and ensure that those groups’ business is sent back to his old employer. Once his work is done, he’ll go back to his old employer and get a tidy pay check. The self-dealings among establishment groups is staggering. They protect each other, fund each other, and work to shut out competitors from whom they can take no profit.

Ken Vogel at the Politico has done a pretty good job over the past few years shedding light on these arrangements. The Washington Post, on the other hand, is far more interested in accusing tea party groups of doing what the sources of its stories are doing. But then the Washington Post never reports on what its sources are actually doing.

But not all of what the Washington Post suggested is actually true. Some of it, with some of the groups, is vastly overstated or just plainly mischaracterized. I think the metrics used by the story are, in some cases, simply wrong. Some of the groups do not spend massive amounts of money on “electioneering,” which has a legal definition and a classification. The FEC defines “electioneering communication” this way”

An electioneering communication is any broadcast, cable or satellite communication that fulfills each of the following conditions:

  • The communication refers to a clearly identified candidate for federal office;
  • The communication is publicly distributed shortly before an election for the office that candidate is seeking; and
  • The communication is targeted to the relevant electorate (U.S. House and Senate candidates only).

If the groups engage in voter education, policy education, issue analysis, etc. they are not engaged in electioneering communication. Some of the groups listed focus on policy and issue education. Likewise, without deep pockets to float an organization, some of the groups spend a lot on emails and direct mail, neither of which is cheap.

From a personal example, I send emails on a daily basis from RedState to close to half a million people. Those emails cost in excess of $100,000.00 a year to send. But, RedState can offset the costs of those emails through advertisements. Many of these groups cannot.

In other words, it is far more complicated than what the Washington Post suggests. Just look at the NRSC data to get that. Unlike many of the establishment groups, these tea party groups do not have millionaire or billionaire donors who can write single large checks. They spend a lot to raise small dollar donations. They spend a lot of money organizing rallies, teaching volunteers how to be effective on the ground, training activists on get out the vote procedures — none of that is listed as electioneering, independent expenditures to benefit candidates, direct candidate outreach.

In fact, several of the groups listed have given more directly to candidates in the past year than the NRSC has done.

But, there are some caveats.

When I was a lawyer, I also worked as a political consultant on a number of federal, state, and local races. When I would go place ads, typically the political ad price with the local stations gave room for me to take a commission off the ad buy. When I’d send mail, the mail house factored in a price that included a commission to me. So I was getting a monthly fee from the clients to be a consultant and also getting a commission for their advertising and mail. I waived the commission in every case and got my clients’ cheaper mail, radio, and television than our competitors. I did not think it was right.

I do find it troubling when groups are getting monthly fees and also commissions. Not all the groups in the Washington Post story operate that way, but some do. I try to avoid steering people to groups that do that because I think the practice, long term, is poisonous. I have written about the many groups that, in my mind, pillaged the Romney campaign off commissions and cushy side deals and kickbacks.

I know there are sometimes legitimate reasons for doing so, but I don’t like it and try to discourage it. As I mentioned, it seems some, but not all, of the groups have been doing that. I think their best practices should be to stop doing that. But I also think those of you who think you’ve been scammed should know better. I won’t defend all the groups. Some of them I’ve been quite critical of. I do think it is important, however, to remember that virtually all the groups attacked have something in common — they’ve been working against Mitch McConnell’s re-election. Ironically, some of the groups most invested in his re-election engage in behavior far worse than anything most of these groups are accused of.

Folks like Jenn Rubin and others will embrace the Washington Post story as proof that the tea party is corrupt. The NRSC will circulate to discourage donors to these groups. The truth is far more complicated and, in fact, many of very the groups embracing this story, if not orchestrating it, are often doing exactly the same or worse.

Disclosure: I continue to proudly give money to the Senate Conservatives Fund and Madison Project, both of which I support without reservation or hesitation. The Madison Project is going to be a sponsor at this year’s RedState Gathering too. I’m also excited to announce that FreedomWorks will be a sponsor of this year’s RedState Gathering. Last year, Tea Party Patriots sponsored the event. I consider Jenny Beth Martin and Richard Norman to be friends and honest brokers in the movement.

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