It’s officially campaign season for the mid-terms and for many states the primaries are right around the corner. For neophyte candidates with neophyte campaign teams, many surprises await. Most know about putting together a bunch of pals, or if you’ve got the money, overpaid professionals, often with embarrassing records who somehow manage to get rehired over and over. Fundraising is a familiar imperative, plus campaign literature, always referred to as ‘lit’ and the door to door, speeches, appearances, debates; the basic stuff of running for office for either party.
But one thing that many newbies and their clan don’t know about are questionnaires. Of varying length, nosiness and honest questioning, and by honest I mean not a push-poll on paper, these things will fill your PO box like a pride of lions surrounding a just dispatched antelope. Know one thing; all of the questionnaires are steeped in special interests.
The NRA, labor unions, nurses associations and education groups are big into questionnaires, as are any number of business groups, large and small. One giant special interest that’s out there now is the Business & Industry Political Education Committee PAC multi-page invasion of the candidate’s political privacy. This year’s edition is nine pages long.
BIPEC operates through state subsidiaries. For South Carolina, it’s SC BIPEC PAC. The questionnaire is called the South Carolina General Assembly Candidate Profile, or whatever office is involved. The trustee board of the state BIPEC organization is loaded to the max with every corporate mover and shaker available. The giant bank, financial, energy, transportation, chemical and all major polluting interests are represented as well as a consultant for Blue Cross & Blue Shield, an insurance giant that makes all the health care calls for the state
And no, you won’t find Joe’s Muffler Shop or Loretta’s fabrics anywhere on the big boy roster; ever!
Be assured that if you’re a Democrat filling out this time-waster, you will have to go against the grain of every reasonable regulation, corporate tax-enforcement and pollution-abating thought you ever had. But if you’re a Republican; no matter a Republican who would make a court jester blush, you’re IN!!! State Senator Lee Bright, now running against Lindsey Graham, gets a 100% rating from the good folks of BIPEC according to one of his own websites.
Historically, Bright is one of Howard Rich’s boys. Vote Howard’s way in the state legislature and groups affiliated with Howie will enrich you (‘er, your campaign) for your efforts. According to Open Secrets, Bright’s coffers were fattened by $40,000 during his earliest state senate run by LLC’s and individuals with ties to Rich. That’s serious money (20% of Bright’s total at the time).
And why wouldn’t the big business and industry tycoons love Bright? After all, among his accomplishments, Lee’s seen his company “On Time Trucking” eschew paying its bills “On Time” as he apparently owed the Capital Bank more than $318,000 after not making his mortgage payments for about nine months. His technical explanation, “Times are tough.” Oh, I forgot to tell you about his $1.4 million in current debt. My ancient old digits are getting weary just typing in Bright nonsense and there’s so much more to go. So, I’ll leave that to a December compilation of vacuous “Brightisms” from the researchers at Right Wing Watch.
Let us return to the hallowed pages of the BIPEC questionnaire. In the space of eight pages, BIPEC will know more about you than your first wife. They want to know your religion, race, number and NAMES of children. Who do you work for? Ever been in the military? What’s your academic CV? It’s interesting that under the heading of ‘campaign profile’ you’re asked to circle your political party. The first party listed is Democrat. Next is Independent, then, third in line, Republican followed by ‘Other’ to be written in. Clever psych ploy. Put Democrat first so it might appear to the uninitiated that it’s a Democratic questionnaire. Republicans are way out there in third. And no, I’m not being paranoid, that’s the way these propagandists think.
You’re then asked for anticipated campaign expenditures and the degree of possible self-financing of your campaign. Would you be willing to accept PAC contributions? H’mmm; how about SUPER PAC? Though it’s not hard to find, you’re supposed to identify your campaign leadership down to Volunteer Coordinator and “Other.” The big boys also want a picture and some campaign literature (just in case you’re shading the truth in your responses).
Now we get to the all important “Issues Profile” pages. You get to put an A, B, C, D or E next to each question that will serve as your totally uninformative answer. Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Undecided, Agree or Strongly Agree. Many of the questions have a push-poll element to them. A push-poll consists of misleading statements designed to point the respondent to an answer that can be subsequently negatively manipulated. Sample from the questionnaire: South Carolina should do its part to combat climate change, regardless of purported increases to business and consumer costs. So BIPEC will sell an agreeing response as COSTING THE VOTER MONEY!!!
There are 48 total questions. The last one is the real definer. It asks how likely you are to receive a contribution or endorsement from 19 different business, labor and advocacy groups. If you didn’t know the candidates conservative or liberal leanings before question 48, you certainly will after question 48. BIPEC can make mincemeat out of candidates who are honest, progressive or not wise to the ways of political charlatans.
As if you hadn’t suffered enough by this time, you’re asked to provide so-called ‘additional’ comments on page 9. I’m at a loss where there were any spaces for previous comments. You certainly couldn’t expand or expound on any of the 48 A, B, C, D, or E answers.
In the event you’re still wondering where this group stands politically, check out their own Market Research Report. Under key findings, visitors are informed that a 2012 National Poll (not named) found that 52% of Americans self-identify as fiscally conservative, a pathetically low 17% are fiscally liberal. Some 63% believe in a limited role for government, while 29% support “the more socialized view of guaranteed, cradle-to-grave government.” I searched and searched for the source of that “National Poll”, and I’ve got to be honest with you, I found nothing. I even called their listed DC phone number to ask about the poll. All recordings don’t yuh know. I left my call back number. “O BIPEC, BIPEC, wherefore art thou BIPEC?”
On the other hand I did go to one of BIPEC’s own suggested URL’s and checked out their hysterically funny Research Report that cited their study claiming that 35% of employees queried ranked their employers as the most credible source of information about political issues; 12% cited political parties and a teeny, teeny, tiny 1% tapped into whatever labor union remained standing for their political information.
That still leaves over half the working population searching desperately for “credible” sources. I’m guessing the half-in-the-bag brother-in-law, wearing the wife-beater tee, was most sought after. I don’t have such a source. I guess my sister-in-law will have to do.