The release of the Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure reports for the White House, made available on April 1, 2017, lead to an unexpected personal reaction. I did not go online to view them for myself. But, I have seen several of the articles written about the ridiculously wealthy group of people working in the White House. And it has raised my ire.
For the first time ever, I am furious I am not a millionaire. And why am I furious I’m not a millionaire? Because I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to drop on a campaign to run for public office. Nor am I among the “friends of millionaires,” who could conceivably be selected for a position at any level of government. However, I have worked as a government employee. It is something I am very proud of having done. I am also very proud of the number of years of volunteer service I’ve been involved in since leaving the government. Truth be told, I don’t have an office I’m interested in running for at the moment. But that hasn’t stopped me from being annoyed that I feel running for office isn’t an option available to me because I’m not rolling in the dough. Actual qualifications (those based on experience and background) for these and other jobs in this administration aside, being rich should not give anyone greater access to public office. Obviously there are those who, in the course of their commitment to and while in service of the public, make a substantial income. But how can we create a more level playing field? One that will allow worthy and interested candidates with modest incomes and without the benefit of family money to seek elected office.
Currently, in Howard County, MD, the voters also agreed that one’s personal bank account should not be a sole determining factor in whether one can run for a seat on the County Council or for County Executive or not. It appeared as Question A on the ballots back in November. The proposed legislation on the matter is available to be viewed here https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/PendingLegislation.aspx. It is Council Bill 30 (CB30-2017) and was introduced by Jon Weinstein and Jen Terrasa.
I am looking forward to supporting efforts to change the impact of smaller personal bank accounts and large special interest campaign donations have on one’s ability to run for office.