March Madness 2013: Is It Being Used by Politicians For Financial Gain?


It's March Madness season! You know what that means, right? Did you say end of second quarter political campaign financing? What a great guess!

Yes, politicians everywhere have been using the NCAA college basketball tournament as a hook for their political fundraisers, with prices as high as $1,000 per person (or $2,000 per Super PAC). Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, held two tournament-themed fundraisers this March in the Verizon Center in D.C. ... This being despite the fact that Maryland wasn't even in the tournament (I would know, I'm a Maryland student).

It isn't only a Washington thing: the L.A. Times reports that state legislators over in California are using the hook for fundraisers, too.

This apparently isn't new, either. It is even worse on election years. Take a look at this article from 2007, which explains the whole thing (along with some cute speculation on the 2008 race; watch out for that Obama guy, I hear he's an up-and-comer).

Their explanation is that March Madness coincides with the end of the second quarter of the federal fiscal year, and the first quarter of 2013. Keeping up with the fundraising of the competition by that benchmark is important for gaining the attention of the press, pundits, and other donors.

While I'm sure that plays a part, it doesn't fully explain what's going on at all. Try, for example, to use that explanation to figure out these shenanigans:

It isn't even just politicians. Charities are getting in on the action, as are businesses.

So, what is it about this tournament, of all the sports tournaments through the year, which makes everyone so eager to take advantage of it for profit?

Is it the cynical preying on the school pride of others? Is it the NCAA's encouragement of "bracketology?" Please, feel free to speculate in the comments section.