This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
What is Pay to Play? Commonly held, pay to play is a form of getting a special deal because you paid someone off. Usually this is an indirect transaction, because of clear legal guidelines, and so creative ways are devised around long-standing common-sense laws prohibiting politicians from taking bribes. For instance, when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was asked to testify in his corruption trial as to who gave him a lavish Rolex watch, the governor artfully suggested, “from Santa.”
But while the McDonnell tragicomedy may be the stuff of Lifetime movies, the reality is, there is not much difference from a first family taking goods to endorse a company than when a candidate for office takes thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those who expect a personal return. And since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision removed limits to outside spending in elections, the TV ads that dominate political campaigns are basically unregulated as far as spending or disclosing who is paying for them.… Read the rest