As the old saying goes “follow the money”, and with the financial disclosures for candidates coming out for the 2018 election, there is no better time than the present to do so.
The 25th District State Senator Kerry Roberts recent fundraising disclosure shows that the majority of his money last quarter came from political action committees. Of the $74,798 he raised, less than 15% of his donations came from individuals, and only around 2% came from individuals within the district.
Of these corporate sources of money, many were from industries that directly have an adverse affect on the people that live in his district. Roberts district consists of 5 rural counties, Hickman, Humphreys, Dickson, Cheatham, and Robertson. Some of the problems that afflict the district are lack of broadband Internet, opioid addiction, the predatory behavior of payday lenders, and tobacco use. These are the very interests from which Roberts took substantial sums of money.
According to his report he received $4500 combined from telecom PAC’s that have stifled the expansion of broadband Internet in places like the 25th district. Much of the opioid epidemic that plagues so many places throughout our country can be linked back to prescription painkiller produced by big pharma. Roberts took $1000 from Pfizer, who produces many prescription opioids. His payday lender donations from this filing totaled $5500 with $4500 coming from Advance PAC and $1000 coming from World Acceptance Corporation PAC. Payday lenders have been linked to perpetuating cycles of poverty among the poor by pushing them into greater amounts of debt through exorbitant interests rates and associated fees. He also accepted $1500 from Tennessee Reynolds Incorporated PAC. This PAC is the political wing of the RJ Reynolds Corporation, producer of Newport, Camel, Doral, Eclipse, Kent and Pall Mall brand cigarettes.
On the expenditures side the largest portion of funds spent were to the candidate himself in the form of non-legislative mileage reimbursements and travel and lodging expenses. These expenses totaled $5,542.65.
Senator Roberts Democratic opponent, Wade Munday, raised $34,711.00 according to his disclosure. On his website Munday notes that the 92% of his donations have come from individuals. The majority of Munday’s disbursements have gone to campaign workers, professional services, and advertising.
As we move into the 2018 election season there are many factors that voters have to weigh when considering who to vote for. Financial disclosures offer another valuable resource in the decision making process for whom to vote.