Vail Daily letter: Follow the money | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Follow the money

Linda Petrie Bunch
Vail, CO, Colorado

Just before a definitive victory of more than 20 points at the Colorado Democratic State Assembly in May, Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado House, gave a rousing speech blasting the corporate cash flow that stifles reform, “where we sell Senate seats to the highest bidder and turn Congress into a wholly owned subsidiary of the industries its supposed to be regulating.” Romanoff is the only candidate in this U.S. Senate race who refuses to take contributions from special-interest groups.

Appointed Senate incumbent Michael Bennet is running on the tired cliche, “Washington’s broke, and I’m going to fix it,” while raking in special interest money that is the quintessential problem in Congress. He has received at least $1.14 million from special interests. Sixty-one percent of his contributions have come from out of state.

Bennet received $70,000 from oil and gas special-interest groups, including BP, and then voted in favor of oil and gas by voting against the Sanders Amendment, which would have closed loopholes that allow oil and gas companies to receive more than $35 billion in tax breaks. (Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profit, paid no taxes and got a refund of $156 million.) This amendment would have reduced the deficit and invested in energy efficiency and conservation.

Bennet serves on the Senate Banking Committee, and of all the candidates running for U.S. Senate, he is the top recipient of savings-and-loans special-interest money. He has received $800,000 from banking and finance interests. Bennet voted against a full audit of the Federal Reserve, voted against a plan to prevent banks from becoming too big to fail and voted against legislation to prevent mortgage foreclosures and preserve home values, allowing families to save their homes.

He also received $80,000 from insurance interests and $76,000 from pharmaceutical and health care companies. Bennet raised $70,000 in donations as a “health care hero” on a promise to push for the public option. He broke that promise and then raised thousands more from the insurance industry for his campaign. He also voted against providing $250 payments to seniors who received no increase in Social Security.

As superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, Bennet was “touted as having returned DPS to fiscal solvency, but DPS is $654 million upside down when comparing its assets to liabilities. … DPS’ debt has risen, … and standardized test scores only improved slightly,” reported Christopher Scott in the Huffington Post. And watch for more regarding Bennet’s involvement with huge losses to DPS teacher pension plans.

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If we want our senators to solve problems, we need to limit special-interest participation. A vote for Andrew Romanoff is a vote for the people of Colorado and a vote against the “pay to play” system that influences Congress.

Linda Petrie Bunch

Cordillera