Buy a candidate

We’ve been watching the primary election proceedings, in particular the mayor’s race, with a great deal of amusement. Most particularly, we’ve been watching the goings-on as the local mainstream media portion out, for their own benefits, visibility to the candidates.

We’d like to ask one tangential question from the outset. How can KNPB run candidate debates that don’t include all the candidates? Aren’t they a tax-exempt non-profit? Under the Internal Revenue Code, all 501(c)3s are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.

Even if their partner, the Reno Gazette-Journal, is the one making the calls, allowing some participants but not others to participate in a debate is still an obvious intervention.

Along other lines, has anyone noticed that the Gazette-Journal’s methods for choosing who will be on their debates favor in all ways the incumbents and the candidates with money?

For example, Hillary Schieve has been on the Reno City Council since Nov. 14, 2012. She was well-funded even in her first run at the office. A couple of years in that den of iniquity and her coffers have got to be bursting. So if the choice for who gets to be in the debate is made by how much money a candidate has raised (and visibility is helped along by money), then she’s going to be on top.

How about that peculiar social media requirement? Again, as an incumbent, she gets the benefit. People in Reno are concerned about what’s going on with their city government, so they go to Facebook or to Twitter to get the news. It doesn’t show a particular liking of a person. In fact, sometimes it shows the opposite. What it does do is create an outsized effect in favor of incumbents. And people with money? All they have to do is hire a PR firm to buy social media advertising or to use their own social media network to encourage people to like their candidates’ posts. We’ll see on May 20 who’s got the money, but we haven’t found anyone betting against us on the notion those who start with money will already be in the lead.

Finally, the third criteria to participate in the Gazette-Journal/KNPB debates is mail-in ballots, a self selected and therefore invalid polling sample. The mail-in ballots are, of course, included in the print editions. It’s a transparent device to cut out the poorer candidates. The RG-J could easily have a free online form for determining voter interest, but they’d once again prefer to kowtow to the people in town with money. A Sunday paper, the most read paper of the week, costs $3. So candidates and voters have to pay three bucks to vote? They’ll probably just buy their stacks of papers on Monday. How democratic. Of course, many of the candidates who made the most sensible statements during previous forums will be frozen out of the process.

We didn’t fall off the medical marijuana truck yesterday. We know this is how elections are run in Reno. But there’s a reason most people don’t participate in this part of the election process. It’s because we’ve learned over decades that the game is rigged, and we’d be fools to waste our time pretending it’s otherwise.