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Democratic Vote Buying

There has been a lot of talk both in the local and national news about the Democratic Party’s superdelegate system, and the role they may play in picking the Democratic nominee for President:

First-term Rep. Carol Shea-Porter supports Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, even though her New Hampshire constituents voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“It came to a virtual draw in our state” in last month’s primary, she says of the mismatch in positions. “I think it’s a moot question.”

In her case, perhaps so. But Shea-Porter is not alone, and increasingly in the close Democratic race, the political intentions of delegates picked outside the primaries and caucuses are cause for controversy.

It turns out that one reason that superdelegates are going to vote against their constituents desire is cold, hard cash. It seems being a superdelegate is one way Democrats are able to pad their campaign coffers:

At least two of New Mexico’s Democratic “superdelegates” — party leaders who might end up choosing the nominee for president if the race between U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton remains tight — have received campaign contributions from the candidates.

Obama’s political action committee, Hope Fund, in 2005 made two contributions totaling $4,200 to U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s 2006 re-election campaign. Meanwhile, Clinton’s HILLPAC gave $5,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson’s 2006 gubernatorial race.

Keep that in mind the next time you hear about Democrats calling for campaign ethics reform in New Mexico.