Ken Vogel’s Big Money Book

[This is the latest in a series of short reflections on new books in campaign finance which I am working my way through as I write my own manuscript on the subject.]

Politico reporter Ken Vogel’s new book, Big Money, is like candy–or drugs—for the political junkie. It is full of great stories about the megadonors behind the 501c4s and the Super PACs in the 2012 election, and the consultants who bought vacation homes thanks to all the money sloshing around. It is an engaging and entertaining book about the big personalities, with each chapter seeming to include an anecdote wherein Vogel gets kicked out of a big donor event at a fancy hotel. Read this if you want to get a sense of what motivates the super wealthy to get involved in politics (Vogel notes the affinity to the super rich who get involved in buying sports teams to getting involved in politics). It also gives great insight into Republican disarray in 2012, which could reappear in 2016.

This is definitely not the book for anyone looking for broader context about how campaign finance law got to where it is, nor is is very deep in its philosophical approach to the subject. It is interesting that the subtitle of the book is: “2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp-on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics.”

Hijacking? At a few points in the book Vogel expresses disapproval about the state of affairs, but much of the book, and certainly the end, is resignation: this is the way it is, and this is the way it will be. It would have been nice to know what precisely Vogel thinks is wrong with the current state of affairs and how it might be fixed.

Still, this is a great beach read for the political junkie.  Worth buying it for your fix!

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