Text-to-donate plan takes off

BIG MONEY has always played a major role in elections across the globe, more so in rich countries like America, where fundraising for campaigns see rich supporters shelling out hefty sums for being able to rub shoulders with the candidates.

In May, for instance, actor George Clooney hosted a dinner for his friends at his Los Angeles mansion, which was also attended by US President Barack Obama. Guests included several Hollywood stars; each one of them paid a whopping $40,000 to attend the do. The dinner helped the Obama campaign raise a hefty $15 million.

But the role of big money in American elections could diminish in the near future with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) giving the final go-ahead for the text-to-donate plan that would enable ordinary voters to just text a message to their candidate’s campaign. Their monthly mobile phone bill would include an item relating to the $10 political donation that they made.

On Wednesday, the FEC fine-tuned the plan after taking into consideration the concerns of wireless carriers who were not willing to take on the responsibilities relating to various restrictions that the commission had imposed.

American laws prohibit corporates, foreigners and those under 18 from contributing to political campaigns directly. The wireless carriers were worried that they would be hauled up in case the anonymous donors happened to be under-age or foreign nationals, or sent the texts on company phones.

Candidates in America have been seeking online donations from their supporters, but it entails the donor having to enter credit card details. The move by the FEC would enable impulse donors, mostly ordinary individuals, to dash off a text without having to worry about credit card security, or having to reveal their identity.

And the move has also won bipartisan support from both the Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. It now remains to be seen as to who exercises greater influence on the outcome of American elections: the ordinary voter, texting $10 as a donation, or a Hollywood star paying an astounding sum for a dinner with the candidate.

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