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Posts published in “Day: August 1, 2006”

Salary, bonus, donation

Mike McGavick, the Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Washington, sounds in his statement of response to the current campaign hiccup as if he's almost throwing a tantrum.

You consider the words )from David Postman's blog): "This is a politically motivated character attack. The allies of the incumbent senator have found yet another avenue to continue their daily personal attacks on me. Today's action further demonstrates how far my opposition will go in attacking my character and the character of Safeco, one of the Northwest's great companies. These allegations regarding my compensation are without merit and obviously politically inspired. It is sad that my opponents insist on dragging Safeco into the mean-spirited political process."

We may be uninclined to accept his critics' point here entirely at face value, either, but they do have one, and it extends far beyond the person of McGavick and (legal) personhood of SafeCo, of which McGavick was until recently the chief operating officer.

Consider this scenario:

An ambitious publicly-held corporation (as are they all) decides it wants serious political leverage. The best place to get that is a seat the U.S. Senate, which a century ago businesses routinely bought and sold. So a plan is hatched: We'll hire a person with some political experience who can be groomed to run for the Senate, and we'll pay him the stratospheric set of wages and bonuses and options that CEOs tend to get these days. That money - tens of millions, enough to bankroll a fat campaign - once in his pockets, can be used to whatever degree to self-fund a Senate race. The corporation can even write it off - and keep its hands off the campaign finance system altogether. You can see it now: Dozens of corporate CEO types around the country sweeping into the Senate . . .

It's a plausible scenario. No reason it can't happen. Except that it might not if it goes too public.

But no. We're not saying that has happened in the case of Safeco and McGavick, the key evidence of which is that, although Safeco paid McGavick handsomely in the manner to which CEOs are accustomed these days - this year alone he pulled in $28 million - he has not (yet) dumped his millions into a Senate race in which he is (so far) being heavily outspent by his opponent, Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell.

Therein lies the problem for McGavick - and the likely reason for his intense reaction. If he has any intention of using his millions to help self-fund as the race hits critical, the lawsuit filed today by Emma Schwartzman will make doing so a whole lot more difficult. (more…)