You can tell a man by the company he keeps.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Follow the money.

Cui bono?

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

There's a cliché for every occasion and at least a kernel of truth in every one of them, no matter how stale or trite they may seem from frequent use.

The ones above are particularly apt at election time, exhorting us to pay attention to the connections and commitments of the candidates, the desires and demands of their donors.

The company a candidate keeps, the “birds” he flocks with, can be very enlightening. If we know that his comrades and cohorts are self-serving phonies and rich elitists, his veneer of integrity will peel away, his populist rhetoric will ring false to us, and we can draw the logical conclusions.

If we follow the money, tracing the trail of donations coming into his campaign back to their sources, and discover that his benefactors have in the past been – or expect in the future to be – the private beneficiaries of his public policies, we can judge accordingly.

He who pays the piper does indeed call the tune, and the tune may be pretty or ugly. It behooves us to find out who's paying the piper and what tunes they paid to hear.

If the piper-payers are asbestos attorneys or firms, you can bet that the tune they prefer to hear is the “Jackpot Justice Jive” and not the “Judicial Hellhole Blues.”

Why would the Baron & Budd firm of Dallas and its employees contribute more than $200,000 so far in the 2014 election cycle, and the Alton-based Simmons firm and its employees pony up more than $185,000?

William Enyart and Ann Callis are two of the biggest recipients of such largesse. If they win their races in the 12th and 13th Congressional Districts,what tune do you think they'll play?


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