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Pay to Play / Show me the money

The Clinton’s over the last 10 years have made the “pay to play” slogan as popular as ever. Their foundation better known as the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state has repeatedly denied allegations of “pay to play”.

Here’s a prime example of this type of political abuse…the Clinton Foundation received staggering sums of money from Saudi benefactors, estimated between $18 million and $50 million, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, and Bill Clinton was giving speeches in Saudi Arabia picking up a cool $600,000. Not bad l would say when it comes to buying some influence south of the border.

On a personal note…over the past 30 years of my involvement in politics, bureaucracy and special projects I have definitely run into the so called “pay to play”.

It has definitely evolved over the years with it being much less in the open these days especially with social media and how a quick picture today can be exported immediately to millions of people. We used to call it dark money or the exchange of a “busta” better known as an envelope full of cash for a political favour.

Money can buy elections, and the most recent account that we can relate to is the Mike Bloomberg continuous flow of money into the Biden campaign. If Joe Biden somehow gets elected over Trump it will be because of the money injected by the Bloomberg types that will ultimately control the next president and favour an agenda that others want to take. The association between campaign spending and political success is big and very telling.

Money buys Influence…

Over the years the municipal scene was probably the easiest form of government to easily influence, especially when it came to the construction industry and how it was manipulated through the buildings departments and local politicians. I know some municipal politicians that did very well over the years where you could never proof it, but there definitely was renumeration given to better their personal lives. Developers in the past and even today host all kinds of events to raise funds for campaigns or pet projects for many politicians. The rules are much tighter today with many lobbyists having to register, but many of these funded events still take place.

Money buys Access…

The folks who raise the most money or continue to support certain politicians always have instant access and are able to navigate a particular issue or expedite a particular permit or give access…and yes sell access to a particular individual who needs it. The best one-two punch example that l can give you today is the relationship between Paul Godfrey and the Ministry of Finance provincially Rod Phillips. This relationship is at a very high level where Mr. Godfrey primarily today through his son who is a registered lobbyist, is charging in excess of more than $30,000 per month per client. This flavor of the month is cashing in the perceived access to power, and in many cases, some deals or projects if they hit the jackpot l would care to guess that a bonus would also be paid on performance.

Many of these influencers come and go over the years, and these influencers are dictated by the politicians that they have been riding…but the one guy who never goes away and continues to work the political influence game is Paul Godfrey better known as the “Conductor”.

Many have tried to duplicate Mr. Godfrey, but no one has come close to replicating the master.

Money buys elections…

The old saying that “money talks and bullshit walks” is still as strong today as it ever has been in the quest to buy elections and those who participate in them. Campaigns need money and a lot of it to win, without it most campaigns go nowhere and peter off very quickly.

Politicians always deny that there is any connection between campaign donations and their policy decisions, most politicians insist that the statistical correlation between the two is entirely coincidental. Many cor porations continue to donate billions of dollars a year to politicians and they all expect a return on their investment.

It should not be surprising that money and power tend to converge. Capitalism is not just an economic system that places profit above all other concerns, it breeds a culture in which money is the bottom line in every transaction. Money opens the doors to the best education available, to quality health care and yes it buys influence, access and elections.

Money commands respect and yes it could buy the next president of the United States.

Vince Nigro/MS

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