Friday, July 18, 2008

CA Congress Loves Behested Payments more than Civil Rights

NOW we know why those in Congress don't care about civil rights for the individual Indian: Behested Payments.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians has made state elected officials a generous offer. The tribe will contribute $5,000 to any public or private school a legislator selects in his or her district.
The program, an example of the millions in charitable spending directed by legislators each year, is wildly popular among lawmakers and school officials.
“I wish more organizations would do that,” said Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa. “It's a big chunk of change that they are donating.”
So what could be wrong with a wealthy tribe sharing some of its casino-generated revenues with struggling schools?
Plenty, according to some campaign finance reform advocates.
Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said that even a program as seemingly innocuous as the Barona Education Grant has an ulterior motive: to curry favor with lawmakers.
The education program is an example of an unusual category of giving that mixes charity and politics.
These contributions, called behested payments, occur when a legislator directs an individual or interest group to give money to a specific charity or nonprofit organization.
Officially, they are considered neither a personal gift nor a political contribution, which are both strictly limited under California law. As a result, these donations can be unlimited

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