This scenario is played out year after year in Montgomery, where politicians show the same determination of our aforementioned canine. They decry PAC-to-PAC transfers and support their outright ban. They sell the public on the need to know the origin of political contributions.
But session after session of the state Legislature passes without a PAC bill making it to the governor's desk.
Now that the 2010 gubernatorial race is within sight, the seven announced candidates — two Republicans, five Democrats — have reaffirmed their stances on the ban of PAC transfers. All seven say PACs must reveal the origin of the money in their coffers. All seven say a ban is imperative if Montgomery politics is ever going to take a step toward true transparency.
But those same candidates have told the Associated Press that it would equate to political suicide if they don't accept PAC money during the coming campaign.
That should be no news flash to Alabamians well acquainted with the unique flavor of Goat Hill politics.
Sadly, few modern-day candidates who refuse money that's clouded by secretive PAC transfers win on Election Day. State Rep. Jeff McLaughlin, D-Guntersville, is one rare example. But most candidates understand that PAC money, whether tainted or clean, is a necessity in a time when high-profile campaigns for state offices require huge sums of money.
In essence, it's a simple premise: Stand on your ethics, refuse PAC money, and your chance of success takes a quick nosedive.
Mixed together, this dilemma — the need to accept money from a political action that politicians themselves say should be banned — rests at the heart of the problem. It's also one of the main reasons why a ban of PAC-to-PAC transfers remains high on Montgomery's agenda list.
Political candidates need campaign contributions. Most can't run for office by relying on an Obama-like grassroots campaign of small donations. And PACs, with their ability to move large amounts of cash from one PAC to another, essentially hiding the original source, have become critical parts of virtually all candidates' fund-raising efforts.
Alabama politicians who join the crusade against PAC-to-PAC transfers often sound as if they're joining a fight to ban speeding on Alabama's interstates. They're for it — as long as state troopers don't hit them with a ticket as they motor their way toward Montgomery.
PAC money is Manna on Goat Hill. Candidates can't help but take it. Until enough politicians prove brave enough to stand — and attempt to win — on their ethics, PAC-to-PAC transfers will remain a topic talked about, campaigned on, but largely left alone.