Rep. Mike Thompson is dominating the money race in his 10th run for Congress this year and does not need, nor should he accept, the $35,500 he has recently received from Votesane, an organization that is obviously—yet opaquely—fronting for real estate interests.
There's a story in the news section this week (p8) that gets into the details behind Votesane's bait-and-switch hustle on behalf of real estate organizations. Here's the gist: Votesane is a political action committee that presents itself as a champion of nonpartisan political activism on its website, a place to go if you have a candidate or issue that you'd like to support. Votesane provides a portal for what are known as "conduit contributions," but nearly every dollar that has come through the PAC since 2011 has come from the real estate industry. You'd never know that from the website but from reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
For all intents and purposes, Thompson is running unopposed in the race for the 5th Congressional District this year. The Congressman is sitting on about $1.5 million in his campaign war chest, according to campaign records at OpenSecrets. And while there are two nominal opponents to Thompson this year, they don't have a chance against the powerful and popular incumbent.
Nils Palsson is a young Democrat who is seeking to dethrone Thompson, and Republican businessman Carlos Santamaria is also in the race. Between them, the candidates have secured less than $3,000 in contributions to their races, according to their most recent filings. Thompson will likely win another term in Congress, but he is going to do it with the assistance of $35,500 that he doesn't need, and which arrived like a thief in the night.
I recently reported on Thompson's vote on a bill that sought to nullify the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's guidance on auto-loan discrimination. His office said that in voting to nullify the rule, Thompson only sought more openness and transparency in the way the bureau conducts its business.
In that spirit, Thompson should return the ill-begotten $35,500 from Votesane—the largest single contribution he's ever received—or tell his constituents why he accepted money from a PAC that is clearly not as interested in transparency and openness as Thompson himself claims to be.
Tom Gogola is the news editor of the 'Bohemian.'
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