TODAY'S QUESTION: Do you think the endorsements made by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce affected Tuesday's election results?

Thursday, April 8, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:14 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 8, 2010

COLUMBIA — For the first time in its more than 100 years of existence, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce endorsed candidates and ballot issues appearing in an election.

Along with supporting Proposition 1, the school bond issue and the home rule city charter amendments, the chamber endorsed Bob McDavid for mayor, Gary Kespohl for the Third Ward seat and Daryl Dudley for the Fourth Ward seat. All endorsed candidates and issues won.

The endorsement process began on Jan. 15, when the chamber's board of directors voted to "establish an Endorsement Task Force to review and make recommendations to the board of directors for possible endorsements in the upcoming April election," according to minutes of the meeting.

Chamber president Don Laird said that the six-member task force was "fairly representative" of the chamber's nearly 1,170 members.

Some information about the chamber's endorsement process was not clear. Only five names of the members were released, and minutes from a February meeting of the chamber's board of directors were unclear in showing how the vote to approve the task force's recommendations went.

Laird said the chamber does not raise money for the candidates, despite endorsements. However, former board member Tom Atkins and current board member Larry Moore mailed letters, which were signed by 11 people with connections to the chamber, citing the chamber's endorsements as a reason to contribute donations to the candidates' campaigns and support the campaign in favor of Proposition 1.

The municipal election saw candidates for the Columbia City Council and Columbia Board of Education raise more than $178,000 in campaign contributions, according to campaign finance reports filed with election authorities March 29.

Do you think the endorsements made by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce affected Tuesday's election results?

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Ed Ricciotti April 8, 2010 | 10:30 a.m.

I think certain members of the Chamber financial contributions affected the outcome. Also pairing up with the wedge issue of Prop 1 created a campaign based on fear. Fear is a great motivator and people tend to vote on emotion. Without campaign contribution limits and the SCOTUS decision that green lighted corporate contributions, we will see more of the same.

(Report Comment)
Larry Grossmann April 8, 2010 | 11:45 a.m.

The Chamber endorsement was a huge help to all three candidates and prop 1.

Although some advocates fail to understand the difference between a small business owner and a developer, the community understands that these business owners are valuable contributors to our community. They live and work in the developments the council approves. In most cases they believe exactly like their neighbors. Those same advocates really believe that the Chamber membership may not have supported the actions of the leadership. Once again this is totally untrue. As I understand - out of 1200 members less than a dozen have complained and the vast majority have said "finally" and have cheered this action.

In the third ward other than the Benton Stephens area, Kespohl, got about 58% of the vote, much better than he did 3 years ago.

In the 4th ward the Chamber endorsement helped the moderate voters in their decision. In a absolutely huge turnout Dudley came out on top. The 4th ward race was not about money, Daryl spent less per vote than Sarah Read, who was a much better known candidate. I would suggest that had there been no Chamber endorsement, Tracy would have won.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 8, 2010 | 12:36 p.m.

("Economic Individualism, Social Individualism, and Political Participation:

Previous research has focused on economic individualism. However, there is another kind of individualism, social individualism, that has surprisingly been ignored. I argue that both social and economic individualism predict political participation even controlling standard socioeconomic and demographic variables, but the reasons behind their effects differ. Social individualists believe in social isolation whereas economic individualists pursue economic policy concerns with a vengeance. Social individualists are unlikely to participate in politics because of a fear of interpersonal contacts whereas economic individualists are likely to participate because they want to supervise the government to realize their economic interests. Data from the 1990 National Election Studies, a national random-sample survey of over 1,200 respondents, were used to test these hypotheses.

Results demonstrate that social individualists abstain from political participation whereas economic individualists are likely to participate...
Males are more likely than females to become economic individualists. Richer, older, conservative, and white people are likely to be economic individualists. People from Midwest and married people are likely to be economic individualists.
The paper suggests that the government ought to pay attention to social individualists since they are unlikely to participate. The government should be cautious that the enthusiastic participation of economic individualists may bias policymaking in an economically conservative direction.")

(Report Comment)
John Clark April 8, 2010 | 2:45 p.m.

I would guess that the Chamber is a trade organization exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(c)(6). While such organizations can legally endorse candidates and engage in other electoral activities, in return for their tax exempt status, they must live within certain restrictions, including various reporting requirements.

One area of restrictions involves the use of the organization's mailing lists. For current information and future reference, I would ask whether the Chamber shared its membership, and other Chamber proprietary, mailing lists with Mr. Moore and Mr. Atkins. If so, did they pay the Chamber a fee for use of the mailing list(s); and if so, how much did they pay? And will the Chamber be reporting any such fees received as unrelated business income?

If no fee was charged for the use of such lists, will the Chamber be reporting in-kind contributions to political candidates on its Form 990 to the IRS and to the Missouri Ethics Commission on appropriate campaign contribution disclosure reports?

Would use of such mailing lists be available to anyone or only to members? How would a member, and if available to non-members, go about getting access to such lists?

(Report Comment)

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