On October 13, the state's Fair Political Practices Commission is set to approve some nifty new political gadgetry that would “allow text-message contributions in a similar manner that donations to non-profit organizations are allowed today,” Roman Porter, the commission's executive director, tells the Weekly.
Porter came up with the idea last fall, after the Federal Election Commission rejected its own version of the proposal…
… because corporations could hide behind a bunch of small donations, instead of having to report themselves publicly as an official donor. But California election law is different (read: corrupt and lawless, muahaha!), Porter explains.
“In California, we have our own rules,” he says.
Clearly. The Golden State is infamous for big bad politics: It's the cash cow for most national campaigns, even those of unlikely red-staters like Mitt Romney (thanks to secession-happy Southern California conservatives), and up until last Friday, has operated on the most embarrassing non-grid of gerrymandered voting districts since OG Governor Gerry carved Massachusetts into a salamander. And, perhaps most frighteningly, when California unions and corporations want to back a candidate, the sky's the limit.
Now, with cellphone-donation capabilities, unions will be able to robo-call all their members into donating $10 each — just like that.
Porter makes the point that in California, “It's the same concern that is already in place, by cash or check.” True. But via text, it'll be simpler than ever. As if our showboat elections needed more inflation and special interest-tainting than they already endure.
The FPPC's hope is that the texts will “create another opportunity for citizens to engage with their officials.”
We hope he's right — that levelheaded, if unengaged, middle- and working-class Joes use this as an opportunity to lift their favorite underdogs from obscurity.
But how will that be possible, when the entire thing is about money? These aren't text blasts with gritty issue dissections, or smartphone subscriptions to YouTube debates — they're just simple five- or six-digit codes, with the sole function of sucking your $10 into intangible campaign abyss. (A charge that later shows up on your phone bill.)
On the upside, it'll probably do hilarious things to the bumbling Republican vs. Democrat race to adapt to the 21st century. For example, Meg Whitman accidentally Tweets the wrong text code, or Jerry Brown butt-dials a winky face, or some up-and-coming West Coast Anthony Weiner mass-texts all his donors an unmentionable.
So, yeah: Bring it on, FPPC. The coming California elections were starting to look way too clean and accountable, what with all these eerily fair voting districts to worry about. Time for a text-off.