Campaign cash is the (spoiled) milk of politics

It is always a good campaign tactic to reject PAC money, as two of the Democrats running for attorney general have.

It is even better when you are not getting much of it anyway as is the case with Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan.

But if you are former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, whose recent unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Boston was supported by PAC money, you remain silent on the issue.

PAC (political action committee) money is special interest money raised independently of candidates but used to help favored candidates.

Money is the milk of politics, so there is little likelihood that changes in PAC activity will come about.

What should be of concern, though, is how politicians have turned the once seasonal practice of raising money for a specific campaign into a full-time business.

And, thanks to the internet, politicians don’t have to meet their donors anymore.

This has allowed politicians to raise money year-round even when they are not running for office or up for re-election. Nor do they tell donors what the money is for.

Politicians have become bold enough to request that campaign contributors pledge to donate a fixed monthly sum on their credit cards, the way charitable organizations like the Salvation Army or Wounded Warriors do.

A good example of fundraising run amok — although far from the only one — is U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, the Malden Democrat who lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Markey, 76, was re-elected in 2020 after beating down a primary challenge from then U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy.

His next election — if he runs again — will be in 2026 when he will be 80 years old. So why he is begging supporters for campaign donations already?

And he is grubbing for donations as low as $3. It is demeaning.

Markey is not poor. His and his wife’s net worth is around $5 million. As a senator, he is paid $174,000. He is married to  Susan Blumenthal,  a successful physician who lives in a million-dollar house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and has a pretend house in Malden, which is his voting address.

The way Markey is raising money is a good example of why legislation is needed to prohibit politicians from raising campaign money when they are not officially running for office.

Here is an example of Markey’s April email requests for donations as low as $3.

April 16: The donation “allows me to stay laser-focused on the work you all expect me to do, instead of worrying about fundraising and dialing for dollars every day like some of my colleagues.”

April 26; “Is there anything we can say to convince you to make a $3 contribution to stand with Ed Markey today?”

April 27: “We know $3 doesn’t seem like the kind of money that makes a difference, especially against the super PACs and fossil fuel giants of the world. But when we’re all in this together, it does.”

April 30: “If everyone reading this email chipped in $3, we would crush our April fundraising goals and be able to fund our organizing operation…”

April 30: “I know my team and I have emailed a number of times about tonight’s end-of-month fundraising deadline … But the truth is that right now, we’re still a touch short of where we need to be, so I need to ask one last time.”

And so, to paraphrase Markey’s hero JFK, ask not what Eddie Markey can do for you; but what you can do for Eddie Markey. And that is to send in the three bucks.

Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.

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