Monday, December 21, 2009
Help Me Howard: Politicians
If you have ever voted for a politician and then felt like they misled you you were probably upset. Now imagine donating to one and they either quit, changed parties or decided to run for another office. You might want your campaign contribution back, but can you get it back? That's what one man wondered, and so he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you look at the people in Bob Boudreau's pictures one thing is pretty clear.
Bob Boudreau, Republican Donor: "I am Republican and I am for the Republican party."
A staunch Republican who is willing to break out his checkbook to support his party.
Bob Boudreau: "Specter was $6,600. Martinez was $4,600 and Crist was $3,200."
Bob and his wife gave the money to Mel Martinez and Arlen Specter for their 2010 senate re-election campaigns. The money for Charlie Crist was to help him get elected as Florida's governor, but today he feels like all three men let him down.
Bob Boudreau: "If I had known what their future plans were or intentions were I wouldn't have given any money in the first place."
Martinez decided to quit the senate and took $456,000 in campaign contributions with him. Specter is running but switched from the Republican party to the Democratic party.
Patrick Fraser: "So you didn't donate $6,600 to get a Democrat elected."
Bob Boudreau: "No it was a Republican, absolutely."
As for Crist, Bob is bothered that he is not spending time running the state he was elected to run.
Bob Boudreau: "I donated to his campaign for governor (Crist) and now he wants to move over to Martinez's spot. It's like musical chairs."
Since Bob felt like they misled him he decided he wanted his money back , but getting it turned out to be a monumental chore.
Bob Boudreau: Martinez and Crist I just recently contacted their office and not getting any luck and anybody I contact doesn't know who or where I should contact to request a refund."
When Specter switched parties he said he would return money to contributors if they were not happy. Bob was not and filed for a refund, but can't get it.
Bob Boudreau: "I keep calling their office like once a week and they keep telling me they don't know when the money is going to be returned."
Bob still likes all the men, he just doesn't like the way they are handling his refund request.
Bob Boudreau: "When I got the invitation to your event I showed up on time, brought my check, you cashed it within three days on time, you know, so I would like to get my money back that quickly."
Well, before I start trying to get Bob's money back, Howard, is a politician legally required to return your contribution?
Howard Finkelstein: "The money to Charlie Crist was to get him elected, he was so you can't get that money back. Now, when it comes to a federal office like a U.S. senator the politicians have made it legal to do almost whatever they want with the money, including keeping most of it for future political expenses. Bob's only hope, appeal to the ethics and morality of Martinez and Specter."
To be blunt, it's easier to get a politician to walk away from tv cameras than to get them to return money. After a half dozen phone calls, Arlen Specters staff finally told me Bob's request fell through the cracks. A few days later he got these checks totally $6,600.
As for Martinez, after another half dozen calls I was told to contact a Tampa company that is handling requests for refunds. They told me if they can find proof of Bob's donations and the money has not been spent Bob will get his $4600 back.
Good news for Bob who will probably be writing more checks for more Republican candidates. After they answer a couple of questions.
Bob Boudreau: "Well are you going to stay in office for the full term? That would be the main one, and do you intend on switching parties before your term ends?"
Now if you donate to a politician to get elected and you don't like the way they do their job, you can not get your contribution back. You can put together a recall and throw them out of office, but your cash won't be coming back to you. Donate to politicians, but be sure you know what they plan to do when they get in office.
Your party been crashed. Feel like donating the troubles to someone else. Elect to go with us, it wont cost you anything. Unlike a politician, we don't make promises so we don't break promises.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com