March 27, 2007

Turning The College Kids Into Pros

No, I'm not talking about college athletes in high-revenue sports, such as basketball and football players, getting a share of the millions their schools make. Mitt Romney wants to pay college students who raise funds for his campaign a percentage of what they generate for his campaign:

A millionaire thanks to his work as a venture capitalist, Mitt Romney is acutely aware of the motivating power of money. His presidential campaign hopes it will have a similar effect on college students, which is why it's offering them a cut of their fundraising.

Participants in "Students for Mitt" will get 10 percent of the money they raise for the campaign beyond the first $1,000. While candidates often offer professional fundraisers commissions up to 8 percent, campaign experts believe the Massachusetts Republican is the first to do so with the legion of college students who have historically served as campaign volunteers.

"For the kids that want to get involved in a political campaign and they don't want to spend their summer painting houses, they can help the campaign and themselves at the same time," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden. ...

"It may very well succeed, but I'd like to think that he'd approach young people and college students based on their commitment to the country, not because they want walking-around money," said Steve Grossman, a prominent Massachusetts fundraiser and past chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Romney, who needs some good news after yesterday's polling, may have the right idea. While Grossman wants college students to play for the love of the game, Romney wants to reward them the same as anyone else outside of a college campus who plays in the big leagues. It will certainly generate buzz on college campuses -- and turn more than a few of the more apolitical into Romney supporters.

Is there any downside to this? Whenever one introduces a profit motive, the potential for corruption rises. Given the particularly Byzantine nature of campaign finance law, that could create any number of headaches for the Romney campaign. Paying commissions for these fundraisers connects the campaign more closely to any potential violations than mistakes by volunteers would, at least in public perception.

Romney's campaign will try to keep the kids from breaking laws by managing the process carefully. It looks like they will structure this so that the students do not actually touch the money themselves, nor will they do any of the accounting. Donations will be made in the student's name and given directly to the Romney campaign, which will do all of the calculations themselves.

All in all, this looks like a pretty smart move. Unlike in football or basketball, going pro in politics does nothing to hurt the standing of a college student, and it seems fair to compensate them for their assistance to the campaign.


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Comments (4)

Posted by Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 27, 2007 11:04 AM

I like the idea of paying Students.... except for the problem of who will now be joining the campaign.

In the past, you knew that (with the exception of some sorry-@ssed Doorknob Lickers like Dan Savage and such) your volunteers actually supported the candidate... supported them so much they were willing to sacrifice time, energy, and money to the cause. Now for the fundraisers, you have folks who are more loyal to the money than to the candidate.

Will they represent the candidate well? Correctly? At all? Time will tell... but if they are more loyal to money than the politician they are supposed to be working for they will have an extraordinarily realistic internship in Washington DC politics.

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 27, 2007 12:58 PM

The really hilarious part of this piece however, is Steve Grossman and his pious implication that campaigning for dollars is a foriegn concept. Poor ol' Steve should visit Minnesota during a campaign sometime and count the number of salaried campaign workers and doorknockers and "volunteers" that the DFL hires out here as a normal course of things. And then of course, there are the paid "Voter Registration Assistants" that one encounters on every street-corner who get paid a certain amount for every voter registration card they can deliver to MoveOn.Org or any number of other political action groups.

Yeah, sounds pretty awful Ok. When a Republican does it!

Posted by AnonymousDrivel [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 27, 2007 1:24 PM


I'm sure Steve "Captain Renault" Grossman would be shocked, shocked to find that fundraising as described would be going on there.

Perhaps Grossman could revisit his own "commitment to the country, not because [he] want[s] walking-around money." Wait. I'm sure his position is because it's what's best for the children.

Posted by viking01 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 27, 2007 2:34 PM

Remember that Romney's plan is to reward the productive and results which is something modern Liberalism abhors. Those who don't produce miss out but those who do see something extra to show for it.

I agree that any honest campaign needs to avoid attracting those Carvilles, Begalas and other anything-for-a-buck types as well as the loopy Dan Savage parasites which became normal for the abnormality called the Clinton war room and administration.

For the college analogy for over twenty years I've felt that college athletes should receive an allowance. Not a large sum but something which can pay for more than books, meals and class time. It's important to have a college social life, to be able to buy the beer occasionally, so to speak, when out with friends and classmates. A high percentage of college athletes are dirt poor so the temptations of sports agents or boosters constitute a real threat to someone who is also trying to fit in socially. Now that college sports is such big business with much of that profit dependent on those receiving a mere scholarship for taking the bulk of risk it is folly to continue the pretense it is still all done for "team spirit." When coach is a multi-millionaire but the star player /senior team captain's highest salary was in the fast food industries the modern disconnect is all too apparent.

Romney's businessman's acuity (as opposed to the typical politician's stay-in-office imperative) reflects his willingness to not only to recognize results but reward them substantively too. That may be anathema to the Washington beltway bureaucrat mentality or their pimps in the activist press but resonates in Heartland America where people usually have to do more than talk to put food on the table.