Money can’t buy you pols

One of Donald Trump’s main pitches for the presidency is that he, by virtue of his enormous wealth, cannot be bought and sold by big donors. Ordinarily politicians, including his opponents, become beholden to wealthy contributors and end up doing their bidding, Trump would have us believe. As he puts it:

As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.

Trump, as is his wont, presents a cartoonish rendition of public affairs. Large campaign contributions can buy access and the opportunity to persuade, but they rarely cause candidates to alter their positions on questions of major import. If they did, I doubt that the Clean Air Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act, for example, would have passed Congress.

As Jesse (“Big Daddy”) Unruh, the colorful one-time speaker of the California State Assembly, said: “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women, take their money and then vote against them you’ve got no business being up here.”

Trump has been unable to back up his slander of his opponents in the presidential field with specifics. About the best he’s done is to say that Scott Walker gave him a plaque in appreciation for his support for his gubernatorial campaign. In Trumpian terms, I think this makes Trump a sucker.

Trump supported Jeb Bush’s campaign for governor of Florida. It’s not clear whether he ever received a plaque in return.

What is clear is that Trump didn’t receive what he was after. CNN reports:

Donald Trump openly boasts that he donates to politicians so he can exact favors from them after they reach office. He did so for Jeb Bush in 1998, holding a high-dollar fundraiser for the gubernatorial candidate in Trump Tower and shelling out $50,000 to the Florida Republican Party.

But when Bush took office in 1999, Trump didn’t get the political help he needed to make his casino dreams a reality in the Sunshine State.

Instead, Bush maintained his hardline stance against gambling in the state, delivering a death blow to Trump’s hopes of building out a multi-million dollar casino endeavor with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and prompting him to abandon those plans. . . .

Florida’s laws prevented casinos from expanding their offerings from bingo-style games to wider gambling operations, and when Bush was elected in 1998, he made clear none of that would happen on his watch.

“I am opposed to casino gambling in this state and I am opposed whether it is on Indian property or otherwise … The people have spoken and I support their position,” Bush told the St. Petersburg Times, now Tampa Bay Times, in 1999, referencing the three failed referendums to approve casino gambling.

Trump abandoned his hopes to expand the casino business in Florida not long after Bush’s election. . . Bush’s hard-nosed opposition to any relaxing of Florida’s tight control on gambling came despite Trump’s fundraising efforts on Bush’s behalf.

(Emphasis added)

Trump knows first-hand that when he gives money to politicians, they don’t do “whatever the hell he want them to.” In other words, he doesn’t believe his own BS. Unfortunately, a substantial chunk of the public does.

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