Millions in “Behested Payments” Funnelled To Politicans’ Pet Projects
The causes near and dear to politicians’ hearts have been making a killing over the past 6 years, as donors seek to garner political influence within the confines of campaign finance laws. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission, more than $74.5 million has been donated for politicians’ pet projects since 2011. Unlike campaign donations, these “behested payments” have no maximum limit.
And why should they, asks a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, who reported the largest amount of behests ($22 million).
“These donations represent an opportunity for foundations, businesses and individuals to invest in their communities and help students succeed,” spokesman Evan Westrup said. “The governor is very proud of the two schools he founded in Oakland more than a decade ago, which have served thousands of Bay Area students – many the first in their family to go on to college.”
But critics have described behested payments as a sort of laundering for political donations. They may do good, but they’re also a great way for interest groups to curry favor with those in power.
“Why a behest?” asks Chapman University Political Science Professor Fred Smoller. “If the foundation wants to give money to a nonprofit because they believe in what they are doing, then just do it. Clearly it’s an effort to ingratiate themselves with the elected, and the elected’s effort to increase his or her political footprint.”
While there’s no limit on the amount of behested payments that can be made, they do need to be reported. Find out which politicians reported the largest amount of behested payments to the FPPC here.