Thursday, October 15, 2009

Politics and Paperwork

Setting up a candidacy for local elections (or simply a political committee) is virtually the same process as setting up a small business. One must sign up a committee, set up a separate bank account and register with California's Secretary of State, who issues a Candidate Number to the registrant. Then a whole accounting system and reporting schedule - with forms, deadlines, amendments and penalties - must be adhered to with the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento.

However, this administration and control barrier to entry is made somewhat easier to overcome with the assistance of an Elections Officer in each jurisdiction. That officer is the City Clerk in the City of Manteca. For two years I have heard nothing but good spoken of her abilities, and my own limited observations bear that out.

The process appears burdensome and likely serves to scare off multitudes of qualified individuals, who would otherwise decide to run for local elected offices. Yet, it is another necessary evil because money - sometimes BIG money - mostly other people's money - is almost always involved. Human history proves that where unaudited rivers of cash flow, people with character flaws are attracted and become tainted with the "filthiness of the lucre" (ref. 1 Samuel 8:1-3, et seq.).

Also, sometimes the system is "gamed" by those who abuse the FPPC late reporting options. They count on quick news cycles and very short public attention spans to gloss over their indiscretions, and thereby achieve their underhanded results. (A political committee called "Mantecans For Safer Streets" comes to mind as one such slap-dash entity flaunting the spirit of the law in the 2008 election cycle.)

This campaign experience could, after all, turn into a chance to practice real life forensic accounting and stir up a few hornets nests along the way. Election could turn into a chance to...

Ah, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

No comments: