Kevin Winge

Kevin Winge is a native of Minnesota. He lives in San Francisco, California where he is is the executive director of Project Open Hand, a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious meals to people living with disease. Read more about Kevin Winge.

Who Says the Presidency Is Not For Sale?

Posted by: Kevin Winge under Politics Updated: February 12, 2012 - 12:57 PM

With the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision a few years ago, I realized that my occasional donation to a political candidate really wouldn’t make a difference – except perhaps in the most local of elections. After the state shutdown fiasco of 2011, I said a pox on both of your houses and vowed to make no political contributions – to any candidate – last year.

Now we are well into a critically important election year and it’s more obvious than ever that access to leadership in this country and an ability to influence elections is determined by the size of checks you can write – be it to a particular candidate or a political action committee. Aside from casting our votes on November 6, the overwhelming majority of Americans are really shutout of this campaign.
 
Mitt Romney has his “Restore Our Future” Super PAC. Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC, “Winning Our Future,” is being bank rolled by a billionaire casino mogul. Rick Santorum’s trifecta last week has energized his “Red, White and Blue” Super PAC. And the millions of dollars flowing into all of these political action committees resulted in President Obama joining in and endorsing his “Priorities USA Action” Super PAC. Given that, does any candidate really believe that I’m going to respond to a robocall seeking a contribution from me?
 
Super PACs my be the real game changer in this election, but if you want to get close to President Obama, you best be prepared to still write a big check.
 
President Obama will be in San Francisco later this week raising money. If you want to hear the President, $100 will get you into the venue. If you want preferred seating, a VIP ticket will set you back $1,000. Want your photo taken with the President, be prepared to cough up $7,500. But if you really want to engage with the President and maybe even ask him a question, you can be one of just 60 people to attend an intimate dinner with the President following the larger fundraising event. The cost of the dinner is $35,800 per person. The first $5,000 of that will go to the Obama Victory Fund with the remaining $30,800 going to the Democratic National Committee.
 
If I hadn’t vowed to not contribute to any federal campaigns in 2012, I would invite the President over to my place for a nightcap following his dinner. I would have a few friends in and we would pass the hat to see if we could raise a few bucks for him. But I guess those days of average constituents actually being able to interact with their leaders are gone. Maybe I could afford to attend an event with the President’s dog, Bo.

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