Look Before You Give
This article in today's Boston Globe was pretty interesting. The examples are all from the Republican side, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens on the Democratic side, too.
The article describes how candidates hired firms to run their fund-raising. The candidates were not very successful, but the fund-raising firms took 90-97% of all of the money raised for fund-raising expenses. According to the article, 30% is a more typical number. Even more surprising, some of the firms kept on raising money nationally for candidates that had dropped out of the race. They were playing on people's emotions -- "Defeat Liberal Barney Frank" -- even when his opponent had only garnered 147 votes statewide and couldn't qualify to get onto the ballot.
This is a year when more people than ever have paid attention to politics. There is a ton of fund-raising done over the Internet and via direct mail. Our political financial system is very complicated, and people give money to causes as well as candidates. Before you give to someone or some cause, make sure you know where the money will go. I don't know how you could have figured out that giving money to one of these candidates would just fund the fund-raising consultants, but at least make sure your candidate is still in the race!