Op-ed: Joel Hellmann - 2018 Moderate Party of RI Candidate for Lieutenant Governor
Money is the root all of evil. That Statement is never truer than in RI Politics. You can call corporate donations “Pay to Play” or “Corporate Influence” or “Favor for a Favor” or any other term. But let’s call it what it is: Bribery. Pure and simple Bribery!
I am not talking about the $20, $50 or $100 donation you might make to you son’s former soccer coach running for town council. You don’t raise $1 Million to 7 Million dollars from $20 donations. $50 doesn’t buy the constant TV ads. What gets you the big money is the Pac contributions, the people who work for them, and the corporate lobbyists who write the laws our reps vote on. And those people want value in exchange for the big money they contribute, and if you believe otherwise then I have a really good video game company run by a former MLB pitcher to sell you.
And what does that money buy? It buys TV ads that call a sitting US Senator a “dufus”, or ads that list statistics of more than dubious nature (how can we be 12th in college preparedness and only in the low 20’s in math proficiency?), or perhaps the one that claims that his opponents’ donations are from organizations less holy that the PAC money he takes.
Because it really doesn’t matter if you take your money from Big Pharma, or the NRA, Wall Street, Insurance companies or if it is from the Teacher’s, the Firefighter’s, Construction Trade Unions, Environmental or affordable housing construction. They all donate in the hopes of getting a candidate who will give them something in return. Or the big individual contributors who plan on getting state jobs from the candidate elected. A bribe is a bribe and these are all definitions of bribes.
My friend Bob Healey ran for office for years not taking these bribes. The media often treated him as a joke. He certainly could have raised big money in the last cycle, where Bob Healey received 21% of the vote spending $35 to get it. If he ran this year I think he could have either won or have been very, very close. Bob was proving a point that people would vote for you without saturated TV airways, hundreds of mailings, and dozens of phone calls at all hours, that you can keep your dignity just run on the issues and still run for office. A lesson that is regretfully is still lost on most candidates today.
But what is worse the media that uses money raised as a yardstick for candidate’s viability. The prevalent view that unless you raise big money, unless you are bribed, that you should not run, and cannot win. And it is the media that dismisses a candidate that doesn’t raise the big money. On Lively Experiment last Friday it was suggested that the lack of money should keep people out of debates because it might take votes from the highly bribed candidates. Are our elections to be wholly bought and paid for? I find this despicable. Is it any wonder that we have such poorly functioning government? Is the media saying that someone cannot be an acceptable candidate because he didn’t take enough BRIBES?
Well Bob Healey didn’t think so. I had breakfast with him a couple weeks after the last election, I was amazed he did so well on $35 and I told him that if he ran again I would run for LT Governor. Sadly Bob passed away 3 Months later. I felt honor bound to run anyway.
Will I win? I don’t know. Put me in the debates and I might. But I won’t be taking any Bribes. Excuse me, big corporate donations. Like there is a difference.
2018 Moderate Party of Rhode Island Candidate for Lieutenant Governor
“There's also more of an ethical issue of why is there this position in state government that's one and only job is to sit around and wait for the governor to die?” - Kris Frieswick
As a Libertarian I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home or bedroom. Nor do I care what you choose to put in your own body. However, I am fiscally conservative, that is, I expect the government to run as lean as possible and I ask that they be good stewards of taxpayer money.
As our own state, and states across the country struggle with poor economic conditions I, like many before me, have to ask the question: “Do we really need a lieutenant governor?” several states say no, as do I; that’s why I’ve decided to run for said “office”.
As your next (and hopefully last) Lieutenant Governor I would be happy to serve voluntarily, but I would collect no salary and hire no staff, thereby saving taxpayers over $1 million for each year of the term (totaling $4 million over the term’s duration) I would also work toward abolishing the office of Lieutenant Governor.
If I win
Even should I win, a constitutional amendment would be needed to abolish the lieutenant governor’s office. Here's how the RI Constitution addresses the “job”"Article IV, Section 3: "When the governor-elect shall die, remove from the state, refuse to serve; become insane, or be otherwise incapacitated, the lieutenant governor-elect shall be qualified as governor at the beginning of the term for which the governor was elected.”Article IX, Section 9: “Section 9. Vacancy in office of governor. -- If the office of the governor shall be vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment or inability to serve, the lieutenant governor shall shall fill the office of governor, and exercise the powers and authority appertaining thereto, until a governor is qualified to act, or until the office is filled at the next election."
So, in essence, everybody who is seeking or gets elected to this office is simply using it for their own pet projects, while in reality, they have no actual power vested from the office. They are asking the taxpayers to pay them to hang out as they promote their own personal agenda, whatever it might be…on your dime.
We do have a Constitutional provision for the absence of a lieutenant governor:"Article IX, Section 10. Vacancies in both offices of governor and lieutenant governor. -- If the offices of governor and lieutenant governor be both vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, or inability to serve, the speaker of the house of representatives shall in like manner fill
the office of governor during such vacancy."
Now, I'm not a constitutional scholar, but it appears it would only take a simple amendment or revision to the RI Constitution to eliminate the office. Yes, there is precedence for this: Up until 2003, the lieutenant governor served as presiding officer of the RI State Senate, however in 2003 the Senate was allowed to elect its own officer (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 and 2). Moreover, a quick scan of the full text of the RI Constitution shows that there have been at least three articles repealed since its ratification.
I submit to you that Rhode Island does not need this office, and that by eliminating the Lieutenant Governorship we could save the taxpayers over $1 million per year.
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