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Who cares about campaign money

The traditional take on the p0litics of campaign finances is that most people don’t care where the money for their candidates is coming from, and that it will not likely affect their vote.

If that is beginning to change – this being a debatable proposition – blogs could be one of the key reasons why.

Jim FeldkampBroadcast news media seldom mention campaign finances at all, as a matter of specifics about specific candidates. Newspapers sometimes note the totals, and occasionally list a major donor or two, but that’s generally as far as it goes.

Some of the political blogs, however, have been digging deeper. Now, today, we’re seeing specific impact affecting a substantial candidacy.

The candidacy is that of Republican Jim Feldkamp, who is rerunning his 2004 matchup against long-time Democratic incumbent Peter DeFazio. Feldkamp is an underdog, but he has started early and apparently has been working hard. And fundraising hard; and maybe a bit incautiously.

Last week, the Eugene Register-Guard published a story about local Democrats calling on Feldkamp to return $10,000 his campaign had received from indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. That drew on a response that DeLay, though indicted, had not yet been convicted and so was not yet guilty.

Then bloggers at the Democratic blog Blue Oregon added meat to the bones. Blogger Jon Perr noted, as the paper hadn’t, that “in May 2005, the Jim Feldkamp for Congress campaign was fined $1,000 [see page 11] for failing to acknowledge all relevant contributions in the required 48-hour reports, including $5,000 from Delay’s ARMPAC the previous year.”

Monday, Blue Oregon blogger Kari Chisholm wrote that finance records also show Feldkamp received $1,000 from American Prosperity PAC – the political action committee set up by disgraced, resigned and guilty-pleading former California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

That may have struck a nerve. This morning, though the contribution apparently was unreported elsewhere, Feldkamp’s campaign said in a press release it was getting rid of the money:

I was saddened to learn U.S. Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) has resigned from the U.S. Congress upon admission of pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax charges.

Congressman Cunningham’s service to our nation as a Vietnam flying ace is legendary – he proudly fought for our country and for that we shall always be grateful for his service.

In light of the current events, I feel it is necessary that I donate the $1,000 contribution Congressman Cunningham gave to my 2004 congressional campaign to Food For Lane County.

It’s possible Feldkamp’s campaign decided to get ahead of the story and planned the dispersal before the blog item spread. But the timing is interesting at least.

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