Is The Oval Office For Sale?
The Buying of the President 2004 reveals how the process of choosing a president has moved from the voting booth to the auction block, and highlights the special interests that heavily invest in the politicians seeking the nation's highest office. Lewis and his team reveal and investigate the sponsors and the known and not-so-known conflicts of interest entangling each of the aspirants to the White House. This is the only book of its kind, containing investigative profiles and personal histories of the major presidential candidates.
Here you will find answers to questions like
- Which candidate was paid by a pharmaceutical firm to give speeches while running for the Senate?
- Who turned the Homeland Security Act into a bonanza for the biotech industry?
- Which candidate proposed 32 separate tax breaks for big businesses that support his campaign?
- Who is the "go-to guy" for the insurance industry?
About the Author
Charles Lewis is the founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization focusing on ethics and public service issues. He has recently been awarded the 1998 McArthur "Genius" grant.
The Center For Public Integrity is the non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that produced The Buying of the President in 1996 and The Buying of the Congress in 1998.
Read an Excerpt
The Buying of the President 2004
Who's Really Bankrolling Bush and His Democratic Challengers--and What They Expect in Return
Apostle Willie David Whiting walked into his usual polling place, the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, Florida, on Election Day, November 7, 2000, with his wife, son, and daughter.
Although Whiting was the head of another place of worship, the House of Prayer Church, he lived nearby and had voted at United Methodist many times in the past. According to county records, Whiting had been registered since 1992 and voted in 10 elections, including the preceding one.
After introducing himself to the polling clerk, the minister was startled when he was told that his "name was not in the record book," he said under oath before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights two months later. Another polling clerk "then checked her master book, and she didn't find my name either, so she became concerned. "She called the Leon County courthouse to check the voter registration records there, and the supervisor on the telephone asked to speak to Whiting directly.
Pastor Whiting was about to get the shock of his life.
"We have you listed as a convicted felon," the local elections of ficial told him. "You have been purged from our system. You've lost all your civil rights."
Whiting had never been arrested or convicted of anything in his life and was astonished by what he heard. But he refused to be intimidated. "I asked him if I needed a lawyer. He said, 'Well,let me check further.' He went away from the phone and after a few minutes, he came back to the phone and said there's been a mistake. There is a Willie J. Whiting, born July 27, 1950, two days after I was, middle initial is 'J.'
"I said, 'Well, do we have the same social security number?' Couldn 't answer that. 'Do we have the same driver's license number?' He then asked to speak back to the polling clerk again, and he gave her a number that she could give to me or give me a card to proceed to vote. So I did vote that night, but I was purged from the system."
Whiting had not received any prior notification, in the mail or otherwise, that his name had been stricken from the eligible voters list. When asked by one of the commissioners, "How did you feel when you were told that ... you were a convicted felon and you no longer have your civil rights?" Whiting paused for a moment and then said, "Well, I reflected upon African American history, every last bit of it. So it didn't feel good. I was sling-shotted into slavery, that's how I felt. I thought of all the things that had happened to African Americans that I knew about ..."
Compounding Whiting's personal humiliation that day was the presence of his wife and children -- and other people at the polling church -- who 'd observed the spectacle. "When you're approached like that, you know, you're taken aback, I mean you're taken .... My family didn't want to vote because they were not going to allow me to vote. But I encouraged them to go ahead and vote."
Whiting was by no means alone. The Kafkaesque nightmare he lived through visited untold thousands throughout the state of Florida that infamous election day, especially in African American areas that traditionally vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The 2000 Florida debacle is instructive because of what it reveals about power and money and influence -- because it reminded us all of the myriad ways in which politics can be manipulated and abused to achieve desired ends. And because of the fundamental questions it raises: How are public resources allocated? To what end? And who, if anyone, is accountable when important public policy decisions go terribly, embarrassingly wrong? Florida spotlighted how badly the civic engine of democracy itself -- elections and the fair, efficient, trustworthy counting of votes -- has fallen into disrepair. What's more, Florida is by no means an aberration: inadequate public funding, petty partisan politics, and a fundamental lack of political accountability afflict the administering of local elections all across this nation.
A Felonious List of Errors
Florida is just one of eight states in the country that permanently disenfranchise convicted felons who have completed all of their sentencing requirements, and the only state to include such denial in its constitution. As a result of this ban, 31 percent of African American men in Florida today are prohibited from voting. As required by law, state Division of Elections officials sent a "felons list" prepared by a private, contracted company to 67 county supervisors of elections. According to a 2002 report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, that list contained "the names of 3,000 to 4,000 people who should not have been included, either because they had never committed a felony or because their voting rights had been restored." Some people vehemently believe that number is much higher. For example, before its civil litigation against the state contractor was settled out of court, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and their coplaintiffs were planning to present expert-witness testimony that 70,000 of the 94,000 possible felon names sent to county supervisors were erroneous.
In Willie Whiting's Leon County, which has one of the state's highest percentages of Black and other minority voters, the supervisor of elections was given a list of nearly 700 names of convicted felons to purge from the voting rolls. But he could confirm that only 34 people were actual felons. Some county supervisors diligently checked and verified the felon list, and some didn't. Some supervisors found the list so unreliable they stopped using it. One of them was Madison County elections supervisor Linda Howell, who found herself on the state list ...The Buying of the President 2004
Who's Really Bankrolling Bush and His Democratic Challengers--and What They Expect in Return. Copyright © by Charles Lewis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.