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Shannon Pierce: On Money In Politics

“It is possible to shift our mindsets when it comes to campaigning …”

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by SHANNON PIERCE || If you want to run for Congress, you better be able to put your hands on at least a half a million dollars.

Governor?  You’ll need a couple of a million.

Don’t raise that much?  Well then, you’re not a serious candidate, and you’ll never win.

At least, that’s what I’ve been told, time and time again.  But I know we can prove them wrong.

I have no reason to doubt what they say – it takes a lot of money to build name recognition and be able to promote your stances on the issues.  For me, I filed to run at the end of March.  I’ve been touched by every promised vote and every dollar given, and to date we’ve raised enough to by a small house or a very large car.  But there’s airtime to buy, consultants to hire, endless supplies of palm cards and yard signs (many of which disappear in the night), and people to hire to knock doors and spread your message.  As a first-time candidate, I understand that is all part of the game.

In contrast, as a constituent who wants her government to be truly representative of the people that it is supposed to serve, I am disgusted by the game itself.

In the Republican primaries alone, there are twelve candidates—and each and every one of us will tout “fiscal responsibility,” while at the same time blowing through more money in a few months than most of our district’s citizens will see in a few years.  For every dollar given to us as candidates, that’s one less dollar going to our local businesses … our local non-profits … our local organizations, and none of it is tax deductible.

Of course, if someone contributes to a candidate, anything more than $200 and up to the personal maximum of $2,700, that contribution is public information, and anyone can pull that information at any time – all under the concept we don’t want our candidates to be “bought.”  At the same time, if you have access to a PAC, you can donate millions and remain totally anonymous.  I don’t know many people who can be bought for $2700, but I know a lot of people that can be bought for a hundred thousand. And this false equivalent of “transparency” hurts the entire system, as people who would otherwise become involved in the political process are fearful of potential future retribution.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not badmouthing anyone for playing within the system that exists. What I am saying is that the existence of this system is a problem.

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It is a problem when it is near impossible for the common man (or woman) to run because the cost of being candidate is extraordinarily high.  And subsequently, it is a problem when it is truly feasible that a seat can be “bought.”

It is a problem when people can’t vote or contribute freely for fear of retribution for their businesses, organizations or jobs when it is reported publicly.

It is a problem when the skillset required to win the elected position is a completely different set than it takes to actually do the job.

It is a problem when we refuse to take candidates seriously based only on how much money they pulled out of the community and threw into their own coffers.

In a day or so, all the financials for campaigns will be released to the public.  In that report, I am sure there are those that say some of the candidates (including myself) are incapable of winning the seat, due to the proportionally lower funds their campaign has raised.

To that, I say this: Money is a tool to achieve an end, not the end itself. I fully believe it is possible to shift our mindsets when it comes to campaigning – at least to consider each candidate for their beliefs, their stances and their policies, rather than those who are simply able to draw and spend money.  I believe I can win this race for less than $100,000.

I have been a true fiscal conservative since I put myself through college, only to graduate Magna Cum Laude at Clemson.  I live in the same house I have lived in since I was 21; my car is paid off and I will drive it until it dies (or until this campaign kills it).  I built a highly successful business out of a mere idea, and am proud that business will likely have a significant exit in the near future.  Throughout my life, I have realized that environments with limited financial resources are where innovation, new ideas and new solutions happen.  These are the things that qualify me to represent the fourth congressional district. These are the qualifications that make me a serious candidate. And win or lose on June 12, I am absolutely serious about doing everything I can to not only win that seat, but to represent the people of the Fourth Congressional District to the best of my ability.

Shannon Pierce is a conservative, a nurse, an inventor, and started her own technology company – New Oceans Health Solutions – creating a mobile solution that put healthcare in the hands of the patient. She has proven her outcome and results-focused solutions as a nationally-known healthcare consultant and as a successful entrepreneur.

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