Rose's Johnson and Pitney on Inland Empire Investments

A June 1st article in the San Bernardino Sun quoted Rose Institute Fellow Douglas Johnson discussing the influx of funding into Inland Empire campaigns as the elections draw closer. The article is titled “Developers invest in local elections” and it discusses how the recent growth in the Inland Empire has drawn donors to the area.

According to the article, Johnson noted that “developers tend to be interested in campaigns in cities where they already have an investment.” He says, “sometimes [developers] give where they are developing, where they own the land already and where they’re working on plans […] Developers don’t really go into towns they don’t own land in yet.” The article also quotes Rose Institute Senior Fellow Jack Pitney.

Pitney explains that “developers who already own land in a community are more apt to make sure their investment or plans are not compromised […] Even if you already own land, you have to deal with government restrictions on how you use that property, and that automatically gives you a stake in government decisions. … If you don’t already own property it’s more speculative.”

Pitney also points out that another “reason for any group to make contributions to political campaigns would be to gain access to the politician.” The Sun quotes him as saying “Access – that’s the key word […] a politician is much more likely to listen to a contributor than a non-contributor, with all other things being equal.” He does allow that contribution “do not guarantee outcomes, but they can guarantee that the politician is going to listen.” He concludes by noting that “it depends on what decision is before which governmental body […] Elected officials do have a role to play in land use and consequently developers want to get their attention.”

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