Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Schubert’s Soul Is Bought, But Hardberger’s Is For Lease

Hardberger has been telling anyone who will listen that Schubert is bought and paid for by the Developers. Since it is true, Schubert has not even bothered to deny it. What is disturbing is that in order to keep the Developers from buying the Mayor’s seat in San Antonio, Hardberger is having to buy it for himself.

In a recent post at The Jeffersonian , Cincinnatus provides the following numbers for the Hardberger campaign:

Hardberger has raised about $900k which includes a self-donation of $100k and a $300k loan (correct me if I'm wrong). [you're right about this Cincinnatus]
If you want to be Mayor and you don’t want to sell your soul, you have to be able to afford to personally indemnify your integrity. Hardberger has provided his own campaign some $400,000 out of his own pocket. One has to wonder. “Why would someone pay almost half a million dollars out of his own savings to be Mayor of San Antonio?” That’s a whole lot of civic mindedness, or legacy ambition, no matter how you slice it.

Has campaign finance reform had unintended consequences? If a candidate can’t competitively raise funds outside the Development Cabal, do they have to be independently wealthy to run a viable campaign?

Castro has ended up roughly where he started in this campaign due to his much vaunted youthful charisma. If Julian makes it into the runoff, he is going to have to broaden his base by another 10-20% of the electorate, and that’s going to cost money he doesn’t have. Those funders that misplaced their early bets on Schubert are unlikely to come through for Castro in the final days. They will either hold their ammo or offer to help Hardberger pay back some of that $300,000 he loaned himself.

This is problematic because this is a lot of money, not just going into Hardberger’s campaign, but ultimately into his own personal pocket. If he doesn’t raise it and doesn’t win, he will likely personally eat this debt. His personal financial stake in gaining runoff contributions is extravagant to say the least. This puts him in a highly compromised position where his integrity is concerned in the final days. One can only hope that these late donors’ influence over Phil will be mitigated by the fact that they came late to his team. But the late donors’ contributions more directly flow into his personal pocket, thanks to the gargantuan scale of the personal loans he has made to his own campaign.

To further complicate matters, If Hardberger gets elected, he can continue to raise funds after he is in office to pay back this personal loan. This puts him in a haenous looking position when it comes to the appearance of clean hands while he is doing his job. If Hardberger is flush enough to spare it, he should make the loan a gift to his campaign to restore at least the appearance of integrity in the Mayor's office.

If we modify the campaign finance law to limit personal loans from a candidate, then Developer-backed candidates like Schubert are likely to invariably raise ¾ of the money in any future elections. If we don’t limit personal loans from a candidate, they risk personal corruption by virtue of their personal financial liability in a campaign. Either way the Developers end up owning City Hall.

Hardberger may be trying to buy the Mayor’s seat to save us from the candidate who sold his soul. (Although you have to wonder if the people that paid over ¾ of a million bucks for Carroll’s soul have some change coming.) What concerns me is that it appears that Phil might, in the final days, have to at least lease his soul out in order to save his own personal financial a#%.

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