Big money is king in today’s campaigns

A former president of the Erie County Bar ran into me the other day. Knowing of my recent retirement, he asked if I was (at least) “active politically.” That simple, polite question, as often nowadays, prompted reminiscence.

In the old days (1930s to 1960s) candidates for local offices like city council seats and county supervisor seats visited local taverns (one on every corner, it seemed) to get votes. The hope, frankly, was to not find many customers when visiting. Then, we would simply leave a $20 bill or so with the bartender/owner, whom, we trusted, and ask him to “buy a drink for whomever he chose” along with a good word to vote for the person.

One candidate, Danny Weber of Cheektowaga, thought otherwise. He would hope for and find crowded taverns. Then he would grandly announce “drinks for all” and even more grandly leave $40 or $50 to the bartender/owner to “not forget those not here yet.”

I recently noted that Rep.-elect Chris Collins “loaned” $650,000 to his campaign and that he has had and will have fundraisers to “pay that debt.” Really? What if he collects more, as is likely? Does he return the excess? Some of it? None?

Weber versus Collins – drinks for all, and $50 or so more, versus a $650,000 personal loan. Which is greater?

Thomas Santa Lucia