THE BLOG
10/06/2010 02:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

When Spending Sprees Go Awry

Campaign finance disclosures dropped yesterday, and not surprisingly, Meg Whitman's ever-growing tower of millions in her bid to buy the California governorship has gotten even higher. A record $140 million high, to be exact.

It's no secret that the bulk of that cash came from her own piggy bank. Our opponent recently made headlines by becoming the biggest self-funded candidate in our nation's history when the price tag for her personal campaign contributions reached a staggering $119 million.

That's right, instead of hiring 1,185 police officers, Californians can look forward to more glossy mailers. Instead of providing 25 million school lunches to children in need, we get even more false Whitman promises saturating the airwaves. Instead of preventing 1,280 teacher layoffs, it's going to be all eMeg, all the time, touting her vague plans and campaign cliches everywhere we look between now and November 2.

Oh, wait. Those figures listed above come from a video released when her campaign spending was a measly $64 million. So use your imagination to figure out what other myriad of worthy causes throughout the state $119 million might help. The possibilities are endless.

Members of the GOP are no strangers to financing their political runs. Federal Election Commission filings show that one-third of the 39 candidates that have reached the second tier of the NRCC's three-step campaign organization program have contributed significantly to their own efforts. And in setting the new United States record, eMeg edged out Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Will these money-is-no-object campaigners meet with success? History suggests not so.

According to a survey by the San Diego Union-Tribune, only one in 18 notable self-funded candidates since 1964 won their races. I cited this article from the Washington Post in an earlier blog entry, which showed that just eleven percent of self-funded candidates emerged victorious in the past decade.

One such self-funded success story we're all familiar with is that of our own Governator. But he only pumped $6 million into his election bid. It's sad to say, but that may as well be a dry-cleaning bill compared to eMeg's megaspending.

Those negatively affected by the current economic climate - a group that, unfortunately, comprises the majority of Americans - don't tend to look upon exorbitant campaign spending with friendly faces.

Remember the backlash against the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission ruling earlier this year, which granted corporations free reign to spend on political advertisements? And in a lesser-known but equally-poignant story, last year a former state commissioner from New Jersey proposed imposing a 'luxury tax' of 33 percent on candidates who finance themselves.

Just yesterday, in fact, the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan posted an excerpt from a piece that suggested rather than emanating strength, self-funded campaigns are a symbol of weakness. He titled the blog piece an appropriate "Money Can't Buy Everything," and pointed to eMeg as the example.

Camp eMeg defends its wasteful, walloping figures by crowing that their candidate will be "independent to special interests and only accountable to the people of California." But that statement neglects to mention the additional $24 million in donations she has received from other sources, as well as the mysterious "small business action committee" funding a series of smears against Jerry.

We won't know for 27 more days if money will buy a winner. But if the latest polls are any indication, Meg Whitman will likely meet a fate similar to the majority of her self-funded counterparts.

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?