Opinion: Special interests are danger to North Country democracy, says Colton man
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 7:36 am

To the Editor:

The influence of money and special interests are a danger to our democracy in Washington and here in the North Country too.

Elise Stefanik, the incumbent representative of the North Country in Congress, receives the vast majority of her campaign contributions of $1.9 million from “Political Action Committees” and wealthy individuals and organizations outside the North Country. See for yourself. Go to: www.fec.gov, search “Stefanik”, then “Browse Receipts.”

Why do the wealthiest of individuals from around the country contribute to Elise Stefanik? Is it their way to assure continued subsidies and tax-breaks to further grow their fortunes and political power? Do their interests take precedence over ours?

Billionaire hedge fund owners who reap hundreds of millions in untaxed earnings from the “carryover interest” exclusion. Why do they escape taxes on gains while workers in the District pay taxes?

The nation’s largest Defense contractors — not soldiers, not sailors — but huge corporations whose executives and shareholders make hundreds of millions of dollars selling equipment and services to the Defense Department. Do these firms — Raytheon, Boeing, Palantir —have an office in the district?

Koch Industries, the largest oil and gas industry infrastructure firm in the country. Its – the Koch brothers – are among the wealthiest individuals in the world.

Political Action Committees funded by the super-rich and controlled by distant professional politicos including Karl Rove and John Bolton.

What interest does the wealthy owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks share with the North Country?

Possibly, since Stefanik does not rely on individual contributions from citizens within the District to fund her campaign. FEC data shows that for the twelve months ending 6/30/18, Stefanik received 201 “itemized” contributions from individuals within the District, totaling $89,149.

That is under 10% of the total of $1.58 million raised in that 12 months.

In contrast, the opponent, Tedra Cobb, for the same period, reported 914 itemized contributions from individuals within the District that totaled $227,223. Individuals were the source of the vast majority of Cobb’s contributions. Furthermore Cobb is not accepting corporate PAC money.

We the people of NY-21 should finance our own campaigns. Let’s elect fellow citizens who will represent our interests and not those of the super-rich from away. Preserve our democracy.

Vote for Tedra Cobb in November.

Robert J. Penski

Colton