Thursday, February 18, 2016

Alan Grayson Has A Democratic Solution To The Undemocratic Super-Delegate Mess That Is Roiling The Democratic Party


You may recall the other day we ran a guest post by Eric Kingson, the progressive Democrat running in Syracuse, New York for a congressional seat held by conservative Republican incumbent John Katko, about why he's backing Bernie. In the spirit of fairness, I decided to ask some progressive Members of Congress-- so, no Blue Dogs or New Dems-- if they'd like to write a guest post about why they endorsed Hillary. Kingston was very complimentary about her and didn't say a negative word. His whole post was about why Bernie was good, not about why she's bad. And it I thought it would be interesting to have a progressive who DWT readers know and respect do a similar post. Every congressman I asked said basically the identical thing: "I wish I had never endorsed her; it was a mistake and I want people to forget so... no guest post." One said he felt there were several members who want to switch endorsements the way legislators in South Carolina and Georgia have been doing.

But legislators in South Carolina and Georgia are not super-delegates and Team Hillary feels the only guarantee to a win for them is the own all the super-delegates. Theoretically, Bernie needs to win the primaries by 18 points to make up for her owning all the super-delegates... 59-41%. So, I suspect they are freaking out over what Alan Grayson, a Hillary admirer (as well as a Bernie admirer) did yesterday. Not a fan of the undemocratic super-delegate concept to begin with, he is offering his constituents in the Orlando area and voters in the rest of Florida as well as supporters from anywhere in the country an opportunity to tell him who to vote for-- and he will vote, as a super-delegate, for whomever wins his poll.

As Gaius mentioned earlier, Grayson told his supporters that he'd "be perfectly happy if our nominee were chosen exclusively in the primaries. But 15% of the delegates to the Democratic Convention are chosen because of who they are, not whom they support. And I happen to be one of them. I wrestled with that responsibility for a while, until I realized that I don’t have to decide-- I can let you decide. It could make one of the least democratic elements of the UnDemocratic Party into something really special-- a decision Of the People, By the People and For the People." He also reminded his readers that "Unlike some people, I will not be making this decision based on who can host the best fundraiser for me. I will not be making this decision based on what my fat-cat donors tell me, in part because I don’t have any. I’ll be making this decision based on what you and your friends tell me. I’m inviting you to vote on this, and give your reasons. Democracy-- what a concept!"

There's an uglier aspect of this super-delegate thing that Grayson didn't mention-- but Lee Fang, writing late yesterday for The Intercept, did: the Super-Delegates aren't just congressmembers like Grayson. Some of them are lobbyists, conveniently enough for the shady character who's taken more money ($2,915,238)from lobbyists than any other politician in history-- and by a very wide margin. As Fang pointed out, Bernie "won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by more than 22 percentage points and by doing so, earned 15 delegates to Clinton’s 9. So it came as a shock to many observers when Clinton, despite losing the second biggest rout in state history, walked away with the same number of delegates."

A few hours ago, Team Grayson posed it slightly differently to Florida voters: "Here is a problem. Alan Grayson aside, we desperately need to remind our so-called 'representatives' that they have a duty to represent us, not thwart us. If we’re going to call ourselves the 'Democratic' Party, then we should choose our candidates democratically. Yet 712 'Superdelegates' to the 2016 Democratic Convention will select Bernie or Hillary based not on our votes, but some other agenda... [D]eciding something as important as who is the next President of the United States is our choice, not theirs. It’s good to know that Alan Grayson, out of 712 Superdelegates, actually WANTS to hear what we have to say. But it’s even better to know that if millions upon millions vote at, then they all will have to listen."
That’s because Clinton had the support of six New Hampshire unpledged delegates-- better known as superdelegates-- consisting of prominent elected officials and members of the Democratic National Committee, who have the same power as the delegates chosen by voters. An Associated Press survey found that superdelegates nationally overwhelmingly supported Clinton.

There are 712 superdelegates in all, which is about 15 percent of the total delegates available and 30 percent of the total needed to win the nomination. If the nomination process is close, superdelegates may effectively pick the party’s presidential nominee, potentially overriding the will of voters.

The following individuals are unelected, Clinton-supporting superdelegates who simultaneously work in the lobbying industry:
Jeff Berman, well-known for his delegate-strategy work in the past, is being paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign to organize her delegate-counting effort while himself being a superdelegate. A “top lobbyist” at Bryan Cave LLP, Berman previously worked as a lobbyist for the private prison company Geo Group and as a lobbyist helping TransCanada build support for the Keystone XL.

Bill Shaheen is one of the six New Hampshire superdelegates to endorse Clinton. Shaheen is a prolific party fundraiser, and his law firm is registered to lobby local officials in the state. The most recently available lobbying records show that Shaheen’s firm is registered to lobby on behalf of the American Council of Life Insurers and PainCare Centers, among other clients. PainCare has faced increasing scrutiny as local officials have noted that eight of the 10 most prolific opioid prescribers in New Hampshire’s Medicaid program worked for PainCare. The flood of prescription painkillers has fueled the heroin epidemic in the region, as four out of five heroin addicts report beginning their drug habit with opioids. Bill is the husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Joanne Dowdell, another New Hampshire superdelegate, is the senior vice president for global government affairs at News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News. Federal Election Commission reports show Dowdell has contributed directly to multiple Democrats as well as to the News Corp PAC, a company committee that splits its donations between lawmakers of both parties. The News Corp government affairs division works to lobby public officials and regulators.

Superdelegates Jill Alper, Minyon Moore, and Maria Cardona are officials at Dewey Square Group, a lobbying firm that is closely affiliated with the Clinton campaign and retained by the Clinton-supporting Super PACs Priorities USA Action and Correct the Record. Alper and Moore are Clinton advisers who have raised over $100,000 for her campaign. Dewey Square Group, as we’ve reported, was retained by the health insurance industry to undermine health reform efforts in 2009, including proposals to change Medicare Advantage. The firm has previously worked to influence policy on behalf of Enron, Countrywide, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, the U.S. Telecom Association and News Corporation.

Jennifer Cunningham is the managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting firm that provides a variety of services, including advertising and direct lobbying of public officials. In recent years, SKDKnickerbocker helped a coalition of corporate clients lobby the Obama administration on a tax cut for overseas earnings; lobby for weakened rules governing for-profit colleges; and helped a food industry group undermine Michelle Obama’s nutrition guidelines for foods marketed to children. Recent records show that the firm is providing consulting work for Independence USA PAC, the Super PAC backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

Tonio Burgos, a fundraiser for Clinton, is a lobbyist registered to influence New York City officials. Burgos’ current client list includes Verizon, Pfizer, and American Airlines.

Emily Giske, also a lobbyist in New York City, is registered to work on behalf of Airbnb, Yum Brands (the parent company of Taco Bell), Pfizer, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group for Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, and Bank of America.
Superdelegates were added to the nomination process as a reaction to the chaotic 1980 Democratic convention, in which supporters of Ted Kennedy attempted to challenge President Jimmy Carter. The goal was to give the party elites more control. In 2008, superdelegates flocked to Clinton over Obama, creating a similar controversy over the possibility of subverting the democratic process.

The party has received increasing scrutiny as many activists have decried what appears to be a system designed to benefit establishment candidates, particularly Clinton. sponsored a petition calling for the DNC not to allow the superdelegates to “deny democracy.”
Other Hillary super-delegates who, sadly, work as influence peddlers and access sellers include Dick Gephardt, Madeleine Albright, Tom Daschle, Howard Dean and Chris Dodd. There are no corporate lobbyists supporting Bernie. Corporate lobbyists all support people like Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton. Let's do something about that:
Goal Thermometer

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At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good solid information on who and what superdelegates are. If we had doubts about the very real and sordid 'power elite' connections that run this country (into the ground), all doubt has been eliminated and our eyes opened to the crass and sociopathic self-interest that drives government policies, at all governmental levels.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Sketcher said...

What did Jimmy Carter do to make the elite Ted Kennedy supporters think that they needed to protect themselves from him? He was and is an honorable and exemplary man. They lost to Jimmy Carter because the people wanted Jimmy Carter in and we never regretted it. The corporate supporters are like children that you can't say no to. If they can't win they're going to change the rules so they'll never lose in the future. This is becoming the most eye opening event in history. Will it be recorded accurately in our textbooks? Do we have to teach our kids now that we live in an oligarchy society and America is not great at all? I think we do. Bernie is the people's choice.

At 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did Jimmy Carter do? He listened to terrible advisors like Bert Lance, and dithered while Iran held hostages. Forgot the Misery Index? The rapid rise of fuel prices? The botched hostage rescue attempt?

As much as I have come to respect and admire Carter as an EX-president, he was not a good president. I recall that he had a hard time making decisions, yet his advice came from a very narrow and far too conservative call list. I detested that I'd voted for him as the failures mounted.

I ended up voting for Anderson, because there was no way I could vote for Reagan after what he did to California as governor. That was only the first time the Democrats lost my vote. The way Hillary is going, she will cost the Democrats all five votes from my household. We will write Bernie in rather than vote for her.

Maybe people should have heard what Paul Tsongas had to say after Bill Clinton shivved him during the 1992 campaign. We would not be in this mess now if the nation saw that Tsongas -despite his own "New Dem" leanings- was speaking truly.

"Mr. Tsongas has embarked on a personal campaign in which he argues that the President not only lacks moral conviction but is also pursuing irresponsible policies....And if he had taken positions that were clearly principled and thusly could occupy the high ground against a Republican challenger, there would be a grudging respect that I think would serve him much better....I now see Bill Clinton as a direct threat to my children's generation."


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