I’m guessing at least some of the opposition to Count My Vote isn’t because delegates want to hang on to the power they have in nominating candidates.
It’s the perks they don’t want to give up.
For years I’ve heard delegates talk about the free meals they get from candidates who are trying to curry their favor. Some have told me they can go weeks without having to pay for meals when there’s a particularly tight race.
That anecdotal evidence is basically confirmed in a series of emails that have surfaced in the John Swallow scandal.
Those messages, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, showed Swallow’s campaign was providing meals for around 80 delegates a day in the run up to the 2012 GOP convention.
These meals became so ubiquitous that Swallow campaign staffers called them “feedings” and likened the delegates to barnyard animals crowding around a salt lick for nourishment.
Not the most appealing comparison – but it seems apt.
Aren’t we told one of the advantages of the caucus system that it allows people with little money to run for office? Even if the Swallow campaign bought 80 delegate meals a day at burger joint with an average cost of $10, that’s still $800 per day and about $5,000 per week.
I’m pretty sure the Swallow campaign wasn’t treating delegates to McDonalds, so that cost is likely much, much higher.
I’m not sure how a candidate with few financial means can afford something like that.
Yet, I have come across very few candidate financial disclosure forms that don’t have some sort of delegate chow time listed.
Meals seem to equal access to delegates.
If, as proponents say, the caucus system is to allow the more informed delegates to properly vet candidates, then what in the world are they doing taking free meals from the very candidates they are supposed to be reviewing? It’s a tremendous conflict of interest baked right into the system.
Instead of looking at policy, delegates have their hands out saying “gimmie.”
Instead of evaluating the fitness for office, delegates seem to be spending a good portion of their time shoveling food down their gullets.
And, why do candidates enable this electoral extortion? Because they have to. How else do you get a busy delegate to show up and listen to your sales pitch? It’s an unacceptable quid pro quo.
Does this mean that delegates are swayed by free food? They shouldn’t be, but I’d love to find out how many would give the nod to someone who didn’t feed them and treat them like royalty. I’m guessing that number would be very, very low.
These perks create a massive impropriety with delegates on the take and candidates basically bribing them for their vote.
Right now, delegates hold the fate of candidates in their hands…and maybe their mouths.
It’s an unseemly situation…one the busboy needs to clear away quickly.