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Old October 31st, 2008, 08:33 AM   #1
Steve-in-Petoskey
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Default Bart Stu(pid)pak

While Washington is broken, it's not broke. Nor is Congressman Stupak. Mr. Stupak's campaign financing records illustrate how afloat Washington is in special interest money.

Ironically, it was Mr. Stupak that raised the issue. In a letter to the Marquette Mining Journal on Oct. 6, he claimed it was "difficult" to raise campaign money. But, he said, "people across northern Michigan recognize the challenge of raising money" and "send checks for as little as $2." Clearly he was implying his campaign funding comes from Northern Michigan.

According to Mr. Stupak's FEC reports (www.fec.gov), his claim is misleading unless collecting checks from special interests is "difficult." Mr. Stupak's Oct. 15 report indicates he raised $738,730 from special interests. So of the $1,195,911 Mr. Stupak has raised for this campaign, 62 percent comes form special interests.

However, it was "difficult" for Mr. Stupak to raise money at home. Only 15 percent ($181,293 of $1.19 million) is local. The majority of money contributed by individuals and not special interests ($273,415 or 60 percent) came from people (especially attorneys) elsewhere (especially Washington).

How can someone be the voice of Northern Michigan if they are paid for by special interests and outsiders? In contrast, the records of Mr. Stupak's opponent, Tom Casperson, indicates 94 percent of his donors are local.

Why are such fund-raising tactics necessary? Since April, Mr. Stupak has spent $390,730 on three national consulting firms. These three expenditures almost double the $210,804 Mr. Casperson has raised. While I understand our area may not have the fancy services Mr. Stupak needs to win, couldn't he have supported business somewhere within our struggling state?

Perhaps Mr. Stupak wouldn't have to spend so much on consultants if he didn't vote with Nancy Pelosi 94.7 percent of the time. (U.S. Congress Votes Database, projects.washingtonpost.com/congress).

Should Mr. Stupak's spending habits surprise us? He was only one of 30 Congress persons to pay a relative to manage their campaign. The Daily Press called for Mr.Stupak to stop paying his wife in December 2006. He finally did so in November 2007, after paying her more than $150,000.
While Mr. Stupak "chose" to stop paying his wife, his records indicate he still pays himself $750 a month for "rent" out of campaign funds to rent his campaign office to himself.

When you are paid $169,300 and receive a state disability pension, why take special interest money to pay yourself? It can't be to afford gas, as Mr. Stupak's travel is covered by a Congressional allowance and his campaign.

While Washington is broken, it refuses to break itself of the influence of special interests and self-serving campaign spending. We can start the fix Nov. 4 by sending a message of change to Mr. Stupak and other incumbents.
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