Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SuperPACs Not Going Away


I woke up Monday morning to some great news. Stalwart progressive Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) was elected President of the Iowa state Senate. And she's not just "better than a Republican," she's the real deal-- especially when it comes to campaign finance reform. Getting dirty money out of politics is her issue and by electing her President of the Senate, Iowa Democrats signaled that it's going to be their issue too.

Karl Rove and other political operatives who manage to skim millions of dollars off the top of political contributions aren't giving up on SuperPACs... not by a long shot. Rove's candidates may have all lost but he pocketed an estimated $50 million from the wealthy right-wing suckers who wrote the big checks to American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS and the other shady operations he and Ed Gillespie ran. Here's how Bill Press evaluated Rove's record as a SuperPAC operator for the Marietta Daily Journal:
[E]ven Dick Morris must take a back seat to the biggest loser of all: Karl Rove.

Rove has a reputation for being a brilliant political strategist. Based on what? Certainly not on his record. Sure, he claims credit for getting George Bush elected in 2000, but Bush didn’t win that election. He lost it to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. Bush was not elected; he was appointed president by the Supreme Court. Rove then famously interpreted results of that election to predict an American political “realignment” with permanent dominance of the Republican Party. How’d that work out, Karl?

Still, Rove’s reputation was intact enough this year for GOP fat cats to entrust him with up to $390 million to spend on behalf of Mitt Romney and Republican House and Senate candidates. And he bombed worse than Rick Perry. With former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie, Rove heads up two Super Pac’s: American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Each made a disastrous showing on November 6.

Crossroads GPS targeted nine Democratic Senate candidates: Claire McCaskill, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester, Joe Donnelly, Tim Kaine, Bill Nelson, Heidi Heitkamp and Shelley Berkley. Eight out of nine Democrats won; only Nevada’s Berkley lost. American Crossroads poured money in against eight Democrats. Six out of eight won. And, of course, both PAC’s spent heavily against President Obama, to no avail.

Worse yet. After failing so miserably, Rove refused to admit he was wrong. He first tried to convince Fox News not to declare Obama the winner. Then he blamed his poor showing on a combination of “weak candidates” and Hurricane Sandy. And he accused President Obama of “suppressing the vote” by pointing out that Romney’s policies favored the 1 percent. Would you buy a used candidate from this man?
Rove's groups ran over 82,000 TV ads and took a cut off the top of every single one of them for himself. His candidates may have lost because he became richer and richer and richer. And some conservatives are very angry-- as well as very jealous. They may not really care who won and who lost-- I mean, let's face it, Joe Donnelly in Indiana may be a "Democrat" but he's as conservative as your garden variety Republican, and Claire McCaskill has a record of voting with the GOP as much as with her own party on the key issues-- but conservative operatives see a pot of money like Rove accumulated and they want a cut too. Reactions from some of the far right's biggest charlatans:
• Brent Bozell, long-time Christian right money-grubber- “Right now there is stunned disbelief that Republicans fared so poorly after all the money they invested. If I had 1/100th of Karl Rove’s money, I would have been more productive than he was.”

• Donald Trump, conservatism's very own circus clown- (on Twitter) “Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money.”
So will SuperPACs disappear now? Not a chance. It's probably going to get a lot worse. On his conference call with donors, Rove insisted all that money wasn't wasted and that without his money, weak Republican candidates-- from Mitt Romney, Richard Mourdock, Connie Mack, Danny Tarkanian and George Allen to Rick Berg, Denny Rehberg and Josh Mandel-- wouldn't have even been competitive. I'm sure that's comforting to the guys who wrote the six and seven figure checks!
One Republican operative who requested anonymity said it’s an open question whether the big checks will continue to roll in to outside groups.

“The proof in the pudding will only be revealed when those donors are asked to pony up again next cycle,” the operative said.

...With the next election two years away, some outside groups, including Crossroads and the Tea Party-aligned Freedomworks for America, plan to assert themselves during the lame-duck session of Congress.

A spokesman for Crossroads and Crossroads GPS said the groups “will be engaged” as lawmakers begin negotiations on the tax increases and spending cuts that are part of the “fiscal cliff.”

Freedomworks for America, which has a super-PAC and a nonprofit arm, plans to mobilize its supporters by encouraging them to call members of Congress and attend town halls.

“We may not be raising money for our PAC, but we will be doing all the work for our PAC to be effective,” said Russ Walker, the executive director of the Freedomworks super-PAC.
With Senate seats now held by Al Franken (MN), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Harkin (IA), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Tom Udall (NM), Mark Begich (AK), Kay Hagan (NC), Jay Rockefeller (WV)... up for grabs-- not to mention Miss McConnell's seat in Kentucky and possible GOP retirements (Pat Roberts will be 78, Thad Cochran 76 and Jim Inhofe 79 and Susan Collins has said she favors self-imposed term limits), it would be a mistake to underestimate the damage shady corporate cash is going to do politically over the next two years.

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At 3:51 PM, Anonymous @NRIII said...

The war is just beginning.

At 4:59 PM, Anonymous me said...

I have never been able to understand how anyone with more than two brain cells can fall for republicans' bullshit. The amount cognitive dissonance they have to overcome has to be incredible.

Yet it keeps happening, over and over. A real testament to human stupidity.


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