The Boscov’s Bailout

I was perusing state campaign finance reports recently and pondered why Ed Rendell was continuing to raise money for his campaign account while saying publicly this is his final two years in public office in Pennsylvania.  State campaign finance accounts can only be used to run for state office.  If, for example, Rendell decided to run for the U.S. Senate he could not use any of these funds.

Why then did Albert Boscov give him $10,000?  Boscov handed the Governor checks of $50,000 and up during Rendell’s re-election effort two years ago.  One of the largest contributors, he received a good return on his investment as Ed came to Reading numerous times with those large ceremonial checks for Boscov developments like the Goggle Works, the Goggleworks Apartments, an Imax theater, and now a new hotel opposite the Sovereign Center.

Now he’s gotten another $35 million in state funds to buy back his department store chain.  The money has come from economic development funds, designed to restart the Berks County economy around the City of Reading.  The store bailout means saving 5,000 Pennsylvania jobs.  That comes to $7,000/per employee.

Will other bankrupt Pennsylvania companies receive similar bailouts while the Commonwealth faces a serious budget shortfall due to the failing economy?  Likely not unless they regularly write five figure checks to Rendell’s campaign fund.

I’m not condemning Rendell or Boscov.  This is the system we have in Pennsylvania and that is the problem.  The current laws which provide no caps on campaign contributions makes pay to play a big league sport in Pennsylvania.  The Governor and the retailer are simply playing by the rules.  Unfortunately these rules corrupt the system and this is but one example.  

Rendell will use the funds to reward or punish those state officials he chooses.  State Representatives and Senators can see opponents well financed through Rendell’s campaign operations if they oppose the Governor.  If they consent to his agenda it is likely they will be rewarded.  This is not good public policy and is not good government.

The new state legislature must address the corruption inherent in state campaign finance laws.  Seeing as each one is dependent on the current system to remain in office this isn’t likely.  I’ve been writing on this issue for two years and gotten nowhere.  Legislators don’t like me because I keep exposing their slush funds and corruption.  Well, someone has to speak truth to power and if they don’t like it too bad.  The Kate Harpers can go to the Capitol Cafe and get their “reform du jour” because I and others will continue exposing the corruption inherent in the system until the people demand change.

Call your Senator and Representative and demand change.