Eibensteiner debacle demonstrates special interests’ stronghold

Once again, it seems something Floridian has helped thwart the election process. This time it involves the American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida and Minnesota Republican chairman Ron Eibensteiner. Last week, Eibensteiner was indicted on charges of election fraud because he allegedly aided and abetted an illegal contribution from the American Bankers Insurance Company. Election fraud is nothing new to either major political party. The connection to Florida is interesting, but the most important factor in the alleged fraud is that the American Bankers Insurance Company also made donations to the Democratic Party in efforts to thwart Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny.

Last spring, legislative auditor Jim Nobles determined the contributions were part of a strategy to prevent the election of Independence Party candidate Tim Penny, meaning the donation was not made in support of the Republican or Democratic parties but as a defensive measure to counteract a third party.

Normally, special interest groups donate to both the Republican and Democratic parties to

ensure their interests are protected. But the rise of third parties makes it more difficult to control politicians. Not only do special interests have to spend more money to influence viable third party candidates, more lobbyists also have to be hired. Even so, third-parties – built largely by votes opposed to big money – are still likely to address the interests of people rather than special interests.

Because special interests are trying to exclude third parties, efforts must be made to make third parties more able to participate in the governmental process. Changes to the current two-party system’s stranglehold on politics could make it more difficult for special interest money to influence public policy.

There must be changes in campaign funding, a review of election policies and an effort to make politicians more accountable for decisions influenced by money. Many times when the interests of the people come into conflict with those of special interests, special interests almost always win out. For too long, the Republican and Democratic parties have been nothing more than corporate prostitutes, whoring out their abilities to affect public policy for campaign contributions.