I don't care too much for money
Money can't buy me love
Despite all the hand-wringing about how money influences the outcome of elections, it turns out that trying to buy votes – like trying to buy love – is a pretty iffy strategy. Just ask David Trone, who along with his brother owns big-box liquor retailer Total Wine.
Total Wine, which has 147 stores in 19 states, generates almost $2 billion in annual sales.
The company is headquartered in Montgomery County, Maryland – which is where I live. But Montgomery County has no Total Wine stores because the county itself has a monopoly on retail and wholesale liquor sales.
(Earlier this year, Washingtonian magazine published a story titled “How a Soviet-Style Liquor System Survives in One of America’s Richest Counties.” You can click here to read the article, which details how the county’s Department of Liquor Control’s many f*ckups drive local restaurant and bar owners crazy.)
Not only does Trone give a lot of his money to the Democratic party, he’s a “bundler” – which means he collects contributions from others, bundles them up, and ships them off to various Democratic candidates and campaign committees.
About a year ago, Trone hosted a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at his Potomac, Maryland home. President Obama attended the soiree along with 350 Democratic one-percenters.
The minimum contribution required to attend the cocktail reception that night was $500. (Most of the attendees coughed up a lot more more than the minimum amount.) If you wanted to stay for dinner, that cost a minimum of $5000 per person, or $20,000 per couple.
(Does those prices seem odd to you? Why wouldn’t spouses register separately and save ten grand? Maybe you wouldn’t be seated at the same table if you didn’t sign up as a couple . . . which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world.)
Obama was driven to the Trone manse that evening by the Secret Service, which blocked access to the roads the presidential motorcade used. This caused the mother of all traffic jams in Your Nation’s Capital. (I take the subway to and from work in part because this kind of thing happens all the time around here.)
Trone could have hosted the fundraiser at one of the big downtown hotels within a few blocks of the White House.
But nooooo! Mr. Total-Wine-nouveau-riche-big-shot-Trone wanted to show off his Potomac MacMansion to all his fellow swells. Screw all the poor slobs who were trying to get home for dinner with the wife and kids but who ended up sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours.
When Trone announced that he was running for Congress a few months later, I remembered that traffic nightmare he had caused and decided I would root against him. But then I found out who Trone’s two biggest competitors for the Democratic nomination were.
One was Kathleen Matthews, a longtime news anchor for the local ABC affiliate who happens to be married to Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball.
The other was longtime State Senator Jamie Raskin, whose left-wing views were too strident even for the left-wing Washington Post, which endorsed Matthews. (Here’s my favorite Raskin quote, which he uttered during a 2006 Maryland State Senate hearing on a same-sex marriage bill: “People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.” I have no idea what that means.)
Fortunately, I didn’t have to choose between a left-wing career politician, a dumb-blonde newsreader whose husband is an even dumber blonde, and a fat-cat businessman whose hobby is twisting the arm of other fat cats to write big checks to the Democrats so he can hang out with Obama, the Clintons, and the rest of them.
I was on the road on April 26 when the Maryland primary election was held, and I forgot all about the Raskin-Matthews-Trone battle royal. Then it suddenly hit me that I hadn’t been hearing Trone bullsh*t radio spots for some time.
It turns out that the 8th District’s Democrats gave the nod to Raskin, although he only got about one third of the votes cast. Trone finished second (with 27% of the votes) and Matthews third (with 24% of the votes).
When Trone threw his hat in the ring, he let it be known that he was prepared to spend “whatever it takes” to get his name out. Local political insiders estimated that it might cost as much as $3 million to win the nomination.
It turns out that Trone spent $13.3 million to lose the primary. (He raised a grand total of $6700 from outside contributors. The rest came from his own bank account.)
Those millions won Trone a total of 35,400 votes, which means that Trone spent $376 per vote.
No one has ever spent more of his or her own money running for Congress – much less spent that much money to lose. How pathetic is that?
From a Mother Jones story about Trone's unsuccessful campaign:
“Irony"? How about HYPOCRISY?
Trone is one of the big-dollar donors whose influence on politicians he decried in the above quote. And you best believe that his fellow big-dollar donors – the guys and gals who came to that traffic-jam-causing dinner at his house and handed him their checks to bundle – were expecting a heapin' helpin' of special attention for their contributions.
Trone is not only a miserable hypocrite, he's a miserable hypocrite who's not smart enough to cover his tracks.
On September 30, Trone paid a $60,000 fine to settle allegations that one of his companies had made over a quarter of a million dollars in illegal campaign contributions to three Democrats running for statewide office in Maryland.
According to the Washington Post, Trone said in an interview that he made the payments “to buy access” to state officials. Click here to read that story, which made me throw up a little in my mouth after watching Trone shed crocodile tears about how terrible the current campaign finance system.
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In April 1964, the #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 singles on the Billboard “Hot 100” were all Beatles songs. “Can’t Buy Me Love” – written by Paul McCartney – held the top spot.
Ironically, McCartney wrote “Can’t Buy Me Love” while the Beatles were comfortably ensconced in the posh George V hotel in Paris.
Years later, when reflecting on the fame and fortune that he had attained, McCartney said “It should have been [titled] ‘Can Buy Me Love’.”
Here’s “Can’t Buy Me Love”:
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: