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Somewhere in the Purgatory for film villains, a wolfish grin crosses the face of Gordon Gecko

by: Eric B.

Tue May 06, 2014 at 12:30:00 PM EDT

Anyone remember the time Meijer funneled secret money to a recall campaign in northern Michigan because the company was mad at members of a local planning commission? Right, the influence of campaign money isn't just for Congressional or legislative races, anymore.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- The attorney at the center of Meijer's high-profile Northern Michigan campaign scandal said he didn’t realize his client violated state election laws until he read a front-page story on Christmas Day 2007.

These were old school laws preventing corporations from directly contributing to political campaigns. In this case, Meijer had to instead funnel contributions secretly into Acme Township because they weren't permitted to buy the election in the light of day.

That's all over now, thanks to the Gordon Gecko effect. What's the Gordon Gecko effect? Most of us old people remember Wall Street primarily for the catchphrase "Greed is good," and that Gecko went to prison at the end of the film. In the updated version, starring the terrible, terrible Shia LaBoeuf, Gordon Gecko is released from prison, only to find that the things he did that got him sent to prison were, by the time of his release, weren't just perfecty legal but standard operating procedure on Wall Street. Or, in this case:

The investigation concluded Meijer violated Michigan's Campaign Finance Act because it used corporate dollars to secretly fund campaign efforts, instead of doing it openly through a political action committee, which must report its contributions. Michigan law barred corporations from direct campaign contributions until the U.S. Supreme Court's Citzens United decision in 2010 nullified the law.

What they did in the dark is today unnecessary because it's now legal for corporations to buy local elections outright. Of course, if they wanted to do it without anyone knowing that they'd gotten their hands dirty, they could just funnel dark money into smear ads called "issues ads." Our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, when it opened the spigots of campaign cash earlier this year, made it legal for them to do that.

Eric B. :: Somewhere in the Purgatory for film villains, a wolfish grin crosses the face of Gordon Gecko
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