Smith, Rodney A. 1941–
Smith, Rodney A. 1941–
Born July 30, 1941, in Warren, OH; son of W. Raymond (a salesperson) and Stella Mae (a school cafeteria manager) Smith; married Elizabeth Warren, August, 1981 (divorced, May, 1994); married Mary Margaret (a homemaker), December 2, 1995; children: Kelli, Nani, Rhett, and Parker. Education: University of Maryland, B.S., 1964, M.B.A., 1966; Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy, CPA Certificate, 1971. Religion: "Episcopal."
Home— Washington, DC. Office—5101 MacArthur Blvd. N.W.., Ste. 200, Washington, DC 20016; fax: 202-237-8620. E-mail— [email protected]
Political consultant, fundraiser, and accountant. Ernst & Young, auditor, 1969-71; Financial Committee to Reelect the President, assistant to the treasurer, 1972; Republican National Committee, comptroller, 1973-74, finance director, 1975-76; National Republican Senatorial Committee, treasurer and finance director, 1977-82, 1985-86; Reelect Jesse Helms Campaign, finance director, 1983-84; Jack Kemp for President Campaign, national finance director, 1987-88; National Republican Congressional Committee, national finance director, 1995-96.
Founder of Tele Town Hall. University of Maryland, part-time professor of accounting and business management, 1970-76. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-68.
Pollie Award, American Association of Political Consultants, 1996, for being the "most valuable player in a campaign" for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Money, Power, & Elections: How Campaign Finance Reform Subverts American Democracy, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2006.
Rodney A. Smith was born in Warren, Ohio, on July 30, 1941. He pursued his higher education at the University of Maryland. In 1964 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and followed this with a Master of Business Administration degree in 1966. Upon graduation Smith served for two years in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1969 he worked as an auditor for two years with Ernst & Young, which included auditing the financial records of the Nixon/Agnew Campaign of 1968. During this time he started a seven-year period of lecturing part-time at the University of Maryland in accounting and business management. He earned his Certified Public Accounting Certificate from the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy in 1971 and went on to work as assistant to the treasurer of the Financial Committee to Reelect the President, which helped President Richard Nixon win one of the largest election victories in U.S. history, but was also directly involved in the Watergate scandal.
In 1973 Smith began working with the Republican National Committee, serving for two years as a comptroller, then an additional two years as finance director. From 1977 to 1982 he worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee as the treasurer and finance director. In 1983 he began working as the finance director for the successful Reelect Jesse Helms Campaign. After that campaign ended, he returned to his job as treasurer and finance director with the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 1985 to 1986. The following two years Smith served as national finance director for the unsuccessful Jack Kemp for President Campaign. His performance with campaign fundraising, however, turned the negative cash flow into one that totaled eighteen million dollars, despite the candidate never reaching higher than six percent in nationwide polls. From 1995 to 1996 Smith worked as the national finance director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, playing his part to help the Republican Party maintain their majority in Congress for the first period in more than seventy years. His role in this election cycle earned him a Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants, given for being the "most valuable player in a campaign." Smith is also the founder of Tele Town Hall, a virtual forum for politicians to be in contact with thousands of their constituents simultaneously through the telephone.
In 2006 Smith published his first book,Money, Power, & Elections: How Campaign Finance Reform Subverts American Democracy. The book covers his views on campaign finance reform and the problems he claims they create for running fair elections. Smith makes the case that Congress's capping of funding in election campaigns gives an unfair advantage to the incumbent, who already benefits from name recognition and establishment against a lesser-known challenger. Smith relates this to a form of political Darwinism, where only the richest are able to survive. Mark J. Wrighton, writing in the Political Science Quarterly, commented that Money, Power, & Elections gives "a comprehensive history of campaign finance reform efforts and make[s] the case that those efforts have imperiled the foundations of the principles upon which the nation was founded."
Smith once told CA: "As a professional in politics for over thirty years, I know from firsthand experience that campaign finance reform is destroying the fundamental fabric of American democracy as envisioned by our founding fathers. The great folly of campaign finance reform is the ill-conceived belief that government can control the flow of money into elections without also substantially dictating winners and losers. It is my understanding of this reality that inspired me to write my book.
"The writing of my book is the single toughest thing I've done in my life. The writing and re-writing took some 4,000 to 6,000 hours spread over five years. It personally cost me over 200,000 dollars to develop, refine, and validate the content and accuracy of the database that is the backbone of the book. Once completed, the database contained some two gigabytes of information. According to Dr. Clyde Wilcox, professor of government at Georgetown University, it is the most accurate database of its size he has ever seen. Writing an objective, nonpartisan book based on hard evidence accumulated on my own at my own expense is not an undertaking I would ever attempt again. It is simply too tough and too expensive for one person to do on their own. However, once the book was completed and published by Louisiana State University Press, the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction was and continues to be fantastic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 2007, Mark J. Wrighton, review of Money, Power, & Elections: How Campaign Finance Reform Subverts American Democracy.
Money, Power, & Election Web site,http://www.moneypowerandelections.com (November 30, 2007), author profile.
Tele Town Hall,http://www.teletownhall.com/ (November 30, 2007), author profile.