The $2.5 Billion Candidate X 2

Every four years I write about the escalating cost of political races in hopes that political donors will set aside some of their disposable income and remember to give an equal amount to their favorite nonprofit group. 10 years ago I wrote about a $3 billion national election campaign -- the entire cost of all electoral races that year.

Imagine my horror when it was reported that the estimated cost of Hillary Clinton's primary and general election campaigns would be about $2.5 billion with a like amount to be raised and spent for the Republican candidate. That's $5 billion plus all of the remaining national and local races -- perhaps $8-$9 billion, all-in.

Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said about pornography: "I can't define it but I know it when I see it." Surely this kind of political spending has become an obscenity.

One opaque reason for the escalating cost of campaigns not obvious to most people is that "bundlers" of legal campaign contributions are working overtime to fund presidential candidates in hopes that their bundled amount will earn them a coveted ambassadorship or senior federal post. During the first reign of Bill Clinton in 1992, the going rate for an ambassadorship in Europe began at $250,000 for a bundler/donor thought able to win Congressional approval. Under President Obama, the price of a plum embassy post is about $500,000 and up. Imagine what the bundlers and donors will have to raise to serve in a Hillary Clinton or GOP administration in 2016.

Hillary is part of a well-oiled fund raising machine, first from a successful nonprofit career raising funds for the Children's Defense Fund (as its Chair) and then in a series of her husband's state and national campaigns before dipping her own toes into the presidential campaign waters in 2008. The Clinton Foundation is on track to raise a $1 billion endowment as it rakes in money from a really dubious cast of characters seeking favors inside and outside the U.S., while being in no particular hurry to spend what it takes in on charitable purposes. [caveat: their advocacy of what ought to be done to improve lives is generally better than any other group's... but there is always an "ask" for money which clouds their motive].

If I can't have a less hawkish and more socially progressive Democrat, then Hillary is my choice, but I am not spending a dime on any candidate in 2016 who can't demonstrate that they, too, are repelled by political money and that of course their donors should set aside a like amount for their favorite nonprofit.