Politicians Who Play Footsie With Interests That Use Money To Dominate Politics Open Themselves Up For Career-Ending Events
On Wednesday morning, ace investigative journalist, Lee Fang, exposed some classic hypocrisy by corrupt Blue Dog Tim Holden (PA). Holden is being pummeled in his losing reelection campaign by progressive groups-- like Blue America, Progressive Kick and the League of Conservation Voters-- because of his ultra-conservative voting record in Congress. But a non-ideological SuperPAC, Campaign for Primary Accountability is also clobbering him, not on behalf of Matt Cartwright, the progressive in the race, but because they want to rid Congress of corrupt members-- from both sides of the aisle. They were, for example, largely responsible for defeating Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and, with the help of clueless Republicans Aaron Schock and Eric Cantor, Dan Manzullo (R-IL). The PAC's main financial backer is an eccentric millionaire in Texas named Leo Linbeck, a far right wing financier. Unsurprisingly, Holden’s campaign is decrying the influence of big money in politics:
Holden’s campaign condemned the influence of Super PACs, political organizations that cannot make contributions to candidates, campaigns or parties and must spend contributions independently. Super PACs, which are allowed under a 2010 Supreme Court Decision, give corporations, unions and other organizations the ability to spend unlimited money in an effort to sway the outcome of elections.
“Tim Holden is firmly opposed to Super PACs and believes that voters are supposed to decide elections, not corporations from outside the 17th District,” campaign manager Eric Nagy said.
While most Democrats in Congress (and a few Republicans) have rallied around the need for more disclosure and better campaign finance rules in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow corporate money in elections, the pro-corporate Blue Dog caucus has often sided with big business.
On June 24, 2010, Holden had a chance to weaken to power of Super PACS and add disclosure and new restraints to the campaign finance system when the DISCLOSE Act came up for a vote. The legislation contained a package of campaign finance reforms, including a prohibition of foreign entities from spending on American political campaigns, stopping certain contractors who get large sums of government money from lobbying, and requiring many groups to disclose their funding in campaign materials. Holden, however, sided with corporate lobbyists and most of the GOP in voting no.
Now, he’s complaining.
35 other Democrats, most of them corrupt conservatives, crossed the aisle to vote with Holden and his Republican chums and most of them were defeated in the 2010 Blue Dog Apocalypse. A few, like Holden, are still crawling around sucking up to lobbyists and betraying the trust of working families, like Mark Critz, another Pennsylvania conservative fighting for his worthless political life in a primary next Tuesday and the DCCC's favorite Blue Dog Mike McIntyre (NC).
Yesterday Greg Sargent reported on the unpleasantness around the SuperPAC phenom in his Post column. Did Obama and the Democrats take the threat seriously enough? I bet they wish they had focussed on it a little more diligently.
Today’s New York Times reports an eye-popping figure: The pro-Romney forces may be able to raise and spend no less than $1 billion to oust President Obama. That number could climb considerably higher, if the fundraising by Romney-aligned outside groups is a success.
Which raises a question: Why is Dem outside-group fundraising failing to keep pace?
“The fact that the Romney forces are going to be able to amass at least $1 billion dollars should be a tremendous wake up call for our side,” Paul Begala, an adviser to Priorities USA, the main pro-Obama outside group, tells me.
Media reports have speculated that the Obama campaign will raise $1 billion for reelection, but the campaign vigorously disputes this. Meanwhile, Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action have only raised a combined $10 million. That sum was matched by a single anonymous GOP donor who quietly handed the Rove-founded Crossroads GPS a $10 million check the other day.
I asked Begala why Dems are lagging behind. He gave three reasons. The first: Dem donors are used to an outdated calendar. The air wars designed to establish the frame of the election are getting under way far earlier in the new era.
“Dems are used to giving late-- we’d have an ad blitz in the last eight weeks, but before then it would be all about building up the ground game,” Begala said. “Now we’ve got a different timetable. We want to define Romney now, as he’s trying to define himself.”
“The second reason is that our donors are not transactional,” Begala continued. “For the Koch brothers, this is a straight return on an investment deal.” A Republican president, Begala continued, “would preserve tax breaks for their oil companies and kill off Obama’s investments in green energy.”
Begala’s third reason: “Many progressive donors think President Obama has it in the bag. But he doesn’t even have it in the shopping cart yet, much less in the bag.”
That's why it's even more important for progressives to not waste a nickel on groups supporting faithless conservative Democrats and Blue Dogs, like the DCCC. It's why we constantly urge people to contribute directly to candidates who share your values and political passions. The DCCC, for example, is spending a ton of money on corporate shills who voted with the GOP on crucial issues-- like the DISCLOSE Act-- and on core principles like freedom of Choice for women. If you contribute to the DCCC most of that money will be wasted on overhead, corruption and reactionary incumbents like Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY) and Larry Kissell (NC), all of whom have Republican voting records. If you want to find progressive Democrats to support instead... look no further.
Meanwhile, keep in mind that Blue Dogs-- financed by the same shady special interests and Wall Street crooks that finance the GOP-- are not giving up Holden without a fight. Late yesterday, Center Forward, the deceptively named anti-working family Blue Dog pack headed by far right Alabama ex-congressman-turned-lobbyist Bud Cramer, launched a coordinated attack on Matt Cartwright, claiming he's "too liberal." They're spending $100,000 on the attack ad, money that comes from traditionally anti-Democratic sources who fear candidates like Cartwright who are not corrupt and who focus on serving ordinary working families, rather than Wall Street. The board of Center Forward is composed of 5 of the most notoriously corrupt lobbyists Inside the Beltway-- besides Cramer (who works for he sleazy Wexler Walker and Associates), you have 2 Blue Dog ex-congressmen, John Tanner (a lobbyist for Prime Policy Group) and Baron Hill (of APCO), as well as Vickie Walling (also of Prime Policy) and Libby Greer (of Cauthen Forbes & Williams), 5 corporate shills working for 4 firms specializing in assaulting the American taxpayers on behalf of Big Oil, hedge funds and Wall Street speculators. That's the company that Tim Holden keeps.