I have made it a practice to keep on file notable correspondence both written and emailed. From time to time, I go through these archives. Some of this correspondence is quite timeless and still relevant.
I encountered the text of one such letter as I perused old correspondence. It was written by former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.
Costello had campaigned for office and won election on a platform of not accepting political contributions from lobbyists. As a statewide elected official, Costello turned down thousands of lobbyist-directed dollars that would no doubt have been flowing into his re-election account had he not taken this pledge.
Costello continued his effort to expose special interest influence even after his election. He championed the case for why other politicians should reject this funding.
To make his case, Costello’s letter pointed to the donation practices of a group that had historically contributed heavily to Democrats when they were in the majority of state government positions, but subsequently shifted gears and now contributes predominantly to Republicans.
Why the change?
Every statewide elected position and the Legislature had shifted from Democrat into Republican hands, and Costello felt that those who are seeking influence now appear to be buying that influence from Republicans.
Principle, ideology, or belief systems seem to be of no effect. Money followed power.
Costello wasn’t afraid to take on the big lie which too many politicians tell to themselves and others: “The money doesn’t matter! I am going to govern the same way regardless of contributions.”
Whenever a politician makes this statement, in my view, he is either extremely naive or very dishonest. You can be assured that this naïveté isn’t shared by those who are making the contributions.
Costello provided a great service to the people of Oklahoma. With this basic example he quantified with this very basic and understandable example that the shift in monetary contributions from Democrats to Republicans is an obvious effort to buy influence with Republicans because of the change in power.
I very much appreciated his letter. He was right and courageous to call on lawmakers to refuse these lobbyist-directed political contributions.
It’s a call that the voters should insist that their policy makers hear.