Tag Archives: elected officials

Letter to Representative Nadler

Dear Congressman Nadler,

Thank you for your service to our district.   You have long been our Congressman, and will likely serve in that capacity until you choose to retire.  That is why we are writing you to express concern with the state of campaign finance reform in the United States, and your own role with respect to this issue.

While you have generally supported progressive legislation regarding campaign finance reform, including the Fair Elections Now Act, I wonder why you do not set a stronger example for your fellow Congressmen with your actual fundraising behavior.  This election cycle (09-10) you have raised nearly a million dollars, including over $277,000 from PACs, which we believe have a deleterious effect on the democratic process.   Everyone knows that you will win any primary or general election challenge easily, if one even exists. Do you really need to raise this much money, especially from PACs?

The recent D.C Circuit ruling in Speech Now, following on the heels of Citizens United, will allow for unlimited donations to PACs, increasing their undemocratic roll in the election process.  Why would you embrace the PAC system, when other Democrats have been able to fundraise sufficiently without using them?

Your two biggest donors, according to OpenSecrets.org, are Newmark Knight Frank and the Loews Corporation.  The former describes itself as a major global real estate investor; in fact, real estate is the largest source of your contributions.   We have long understood the real estate lobby in New York to be opposed to the interests of renters, who make up the overwhelming majority of your constituents.  If we are inaccurate in that assumption, please let us know.  More troubling is the Loews Corporation, which touts itself, among other things, as a major oil and gas explorer.   In fact, Loews is a majority shareholder in Diamond Offshore Drilling, which, as the name suggests, engages in off-shore drilling.  We are not sure why your fundraisers feel that you need to bring in money from these dubious sources, and regardless of your voting record, it troubles us to think what kind of access these corporations believe they are buying.

Mr. Nadler, you will have our support for Congress in 2010, as you always have. But with the system in Washington as broken as it is, we need more representatives who will lead by example, particularly when their stature and electoral situation affords them the ability to do so.


Janos Marton and Cristina Castro


Sense of Entitlement

John Liu, New York City’s first Asian-American City Councilman, had always been described as ambitious, not an unusual adjective for a politician. With hunger for power was on full display last year when he flirted with running for Mayor, ran for Public Advocate, and then dropped out to enter the more winnable Comptroller race, which indeed he won. Now he asks staff to stand when he walks into a room and has people address him as “Mr. Comptroller.” This is staggering hubris for a second-tier New York political hack, who saw the last days of his election plagued by his own mother’s revelation that he had lied about working in a sweatshop as a child.

Mr. Liu is a particularly egregious example of the swollen-head political class, but he is far from alone among elected officials in forgetting that he is a public servant, whose job and many amenities are paid for by hard-working taxpayers. Again, to Liu’s credit, he at least is vocal on many issues, though he is behind the curve on most of them. A lot of politicians simply coast through their terms, accomplishing little outside of the constituent services their underpaid staffers and unpaid interns deliver for them. Such politicians fail to acknowledge their own mediocrity. Witness New York state politics, where the dance goes on, pretty much irrespective of which party controls the legislature and which people lead the legislature, let alone who represents pockets of Queens or Westchester.

Very few elected officials demonstrate the intelligence, hard work and leadership that should be a prerequisite for the job. The sense of entitlement that envelops these unimpressive individuals allows them to ignore their communities and more readily succumb to corporate influence. The Bull Moose Movement does not endorse candidates, and it will not focus on electoral results. We believe that voters need to learn the truth about their elected officials, many of whom are too lazy to even regularly schedule events in the district outside of high-end fundraisers. In future posts we discuss reforms that could improve the caliber of our elected officials, but in the end, voters have to make better choices than sending the same people back to City Hall, Albany and Washington. One of our goals this summer will be encouraging communities to start demanding the same kind of access that top lobbyist dollars can buy. After all, aren’t taxpayers already contributing more than lobbyists ever will?