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Heinemann to retire from Hudson Chamber post

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Unhappy with Kind

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Dear Editor,

Most of us know Ron Kind because he's our congressman, and has been for a while. What do we really know about the guy?

Well, I've done a little research in the matter. Lord knows, I've the time. Since being laid off this spring, I've been hunkered down in my dad's summer home, anxiously trying to find a job that will 1) pay a livable wage and 2) offer a health insurance that's worth a darn in the first place.

At first glance, he has the Ivy League degree from Harvard, the made-for TV family and a locally grown law degree from University of Minnesota.

Who he was taking money from?

The answer turned out to a whole heck-of-a-lot of PAC money. Contributions came from insurance providers ($167,816), investment companies ($81,900), pharmaceuticals/health products ($73,466) and health professionals ($161,100).

When I dug a little deeper, I found something like 69 percent of Kind's funds came from PAC, not individual contributions.

Political action committees (PACs) are organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests. Many politicians, including Ron Kind, have also formed Leadership PACs as a way of raising money to help fund other candidates' campaigns.

And it really is just that simple: Just follow the money.

In the 2007-2008 election cycle, Kind managed to raise an astounding $1,428,100 to run for reelection. Of which, he spent $1,034,594. This left him with still a staggering $782,740 of cash on hand. (I'm not sure about the math either; that's just how it's reported.) It seems more than a tad disproportionate when you compare it to how much money his Republican challenger managed to raise and spend.

Paul Stark, the Republican challenger, was only was able to raise and spend $59,943. With that, he managed to capture 35 percent of the vote, giving Ron Kind a rather decisive victory.

On average, a candidate challenging an incumbent House member was outspent by nearly $565,000. Thus, incumbents customarily win their party's nomination to run for office.

Unseating an incumbent is very difficult. Barring any major scandal or controversy, about 95 percent of congressional incumbents win re-election. Political PAC money, like this, keeps the "incumbent-party" - Democrat/Republican - in charge. And every election, meaningful and sensible reforms get put off, delayed again and again. Meanwhile, we watched as our economy has crashed and burned.

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