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David Crawley (copy)

David Crawley

Like all good West Virginians, I try to think about Ohio as little as possible. However, the recent Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th district can’t be ignored, considering how jarringly it demonstrated that big money is running amok.

Millions of dollars are poured into campaigns by outside entities, trying to gain influence over a candidate. These corporations and political action committees who put this money into the pockets of politicians do not care about the people of the district, they care about their own interests.

After Marcia Fudge was tapped as President Biden’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a special election was called for to fill this Cleveland-based seat. Candidates Nina Turner and Shontel Brown each raised eye-popping amounts of money themselves, and there was millions more in outside spending that took place on their behalf in the district.

Turner and Brown raised $6 million for this race collectively. Could you imagine how life-changing $6 million would be? That money could have gone to build a grocery store in a rural area without one. That money could have gone to local schools, to buy students new textbooks and other needed supplies. That money could have gone toward helping defeat the opioid crisis in Appalachia. But instead, it went to TV and radio ads, to highly-paid political consultants, to things that no longer matter to anyone because like a flash in the pan, the primary election is now over.

Now, let’s consider the amount of outside spending that came into that district. Groups like the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Democratic Action PAC, Democratic Majority for Israel, Working Families Party Independent Expenditure and Third Way all bought ads for their preferred candidates, totaling $3,173,000 and flooding the Cleveland airwaves with big money. This Super PAC spending is virtually unlimited in our democracy, and dramatically skews election outcomes.

Big money in politics and legalized corruption are not isolated to one particular party. These issues plaguing our democracy do not boil down to Republican vs. Democrat, they boil down to the elites vs. the working class. Our democracy has become corrupted by big money, such that it’s working really well for corporations and billionaires, and not very well for the rest of us.

We will never be able to move forward until we reform this system. We need to stamp out big money in our politics, and we can start by passing the emerging compromise legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been working on in Washington. This bill will un-rig our system, bringing transparency to political spending, reducing the power of lobbyists and protecting our freedom to vote. Only then will we break the vicious cycle of outrageous amounts of money being spent on boom-and-bust campaign cycles, and create a government that’s actually working for working people.

David Crawley is the director of the West Virginia chapter of Un-PAC.

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