“Bribes Upset the Plea of the Just”

At the end of the last presidential campaign in 2008, I came away with a list of words that if I never heard again it would be too soon. I admit my aversion to “hopeful” “mavericks” promising to “change” things has subsided in the last four years, but I doubt my aversion to the campaign ad will be going anywhere anytime soon. Indeed, the 2010 Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision granting the right to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections has all but assured us that the proliferation of campaign commercials, flyers and robo-calls will be inundating us for the foreseeable future. I don’t think anyone settles in on Friday night to secretly revel in the plot twists of ABC’s hit show Revenge hoping for a barrage of advertising paid for by Patriots for X or Citizens for Y.

While final numbers for the campaigns are not yet available, as of October 25th, 11 days before Election Day, the Republican and Democratic parties spent a combined total of over $2 billion dollars. In addition outside groups, including PACs, Super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, spent a combined total of over $752 million dollars in the election (an increase of over 200% from 2008 independent expenditures). This is a significant increase over the $1.8 billion spent in total on the 2008 presidential race and will likely increase when the numbers for the final days of the election are released. At this point, it is expected that a total of over $6 billion will have been spent on congressional, senatorial and the presidential races. This of course does not include the money spent on local and gubernatorial races, which are reported at the state level.

As the URJ noted in 2002, “[T]housands of years ago the Bible warned against mingling money and politics. Deuteronomy 16 states, ‘You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just.’  The Talmud, asks in Tractate Kethuboth ‘What is the reason for {[the prohibition against taking] a gift? Because as soon as a man receives a gift from another he becomes so well disposed towards him that he becomes like his own person, and no man sees himself in the wrong.’”

Image Courtesy of the New Yorker.

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Zachary Rosenberg

About Zachary Rosenberg

Zachary Rosenberg is a 2012-2013 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. He is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico and graduated from Occidental College in 2011.


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