Following the Money

'Tis the season for campaign giving, and at least some of those who've been at the receiving end of past contributions have whipped out their checkbooks. Former mayor Ed Koch, for one, has sent $250 to C. Virginia Fields. Ruth Messinger, trounced by Rudy G. in 1997, has given $500 to Freddy Ferrer. And onetime mayoral and gubernatorial candidate Peter Vallone has signed $1,000 over to his successor in the City Council Speaker's chair, Gifford Miller.

But enough about the big spenders who get all the attention from political writers. Give a little love to the smallest donors: the 42 people who campaign finance records indicate have made donations of a single American dollar to a 2005 New York City campaign.

They hail from as far away as Anchorage, Alaska, and Austin, Texas, and they include the retired and the unemployed, engineers and exterminators, attorneys and homemakers. You'd think the cash was for campaign buttons or stickers, but almost half of the $1 donations were by credit card. One guy gave seven $1 donations, on different days.

Sure, it's odd. But thanks to the inflation in the graft market, at least we can be reasonably sure these people are not buying influence. Not much of it, anyway.

 
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