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Avoid the Political Penalty Box



 

In the photo above I am thinking. Thinking about some days I wish that I was spending this time of my life maxing out not just my credit card, but my credit line. Splurging on a new car, a Lincoln MKX, or a vacation house or something NEW and BIG. Like a trip around the world.


But for a venture that gets a person thinking about money, none beats politics. So instead of a Lincoln MKX, we bought The ultimate American gift : a political campaign, a run at public office.


I am a political candidate. I am running for Lansing City Charter Commission.


Public office is not as sexy as a luxury automobile, but it's far more adventurous. I am meeting all kinds of interesting people.


The first month of my political-ness was spent on money. Americans are still a bit prudish about discussing money, but in politics it’s impossible to avoid because it takes money to participate.


 I used to worry about having enough money to pay for our kids’ college. But ever since the last one graduated, leaving us a bit beat down but happy, I left behind worrying about money.


But now I am a political candidate. And money worry is my new ensemble accessory.


 Years ago, I read a news report on a U.S. Senator and fundraising. As soon as she exited the Senate Chamber, she sat down to make fundraising calls. Every day. And when at home among the people who elected her, she talked issues, but that’s code for money. Is that my idea of fun? No. But after my recent reading of the 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin freedom is looking more and more fun.


With political money come other fears, like the fear of penalties. Can there be any shock more rude than trying to serve your community and getting fined?


The penalties for state campaign finance law violations can be stiff. For instance, after filing nomination papers, the clock starts. You get 20 business days to file campaign committee papers. Miss the 20-day deadline and a penalty of $10 per business day kicks in for every day the report is late, up to a maximum of $300. I know someone that happened to.


To avoid penalties, the one thing a candidate needs most is a knowledgeable, trustworthy, experienced campaign treasurer. My sister, Marcia Evans, is mine.


My State Senator Sam Singh, Democrat, District 7, who is endorsing my campaign for Lansing City Charter Commission, said to me, you’re lucky to have her.


I am lucky. Marcia knows what questions to ask and which calendars to watch, when to file the reports. And, she knows how to nag me.


Without money, there is no political campaign. Without campaigns where do our elected officials come from? Ask Russia’s Putin. Or any campaign that does not have the protection of laws.


Bottom line: Running for public office is no DIY project. It’s a money venture. And a freedom venture.


3/11/2024

 

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