Trumpanzee Or No Trumpanzee, Congressional Republicans Have A Very Bloody Civil War To Fight
|Right-wing grifters Ann Couler and Paul Nehlen. Add Sarah Palin and Phyllis Schlafly and you come up with a mighty 16%|
“We are absolutely going to make sure Paul Ryan is being held accountable to the people,” Nehlen told FoxNews.com on Saturday. "You’ll be hearing from me shortly … like in less than week.”
A Ryan spokesman declined to comment for that story.
The Nehlen aide said the PAC aims to raise into the seven figures and “spend every available dime on communications and ground operations in key swing states in an effort to elect Donald Trump."
Said Nehlen: "Millions of hard-working Americans have had enough of the Clinton dynasty, and they've had enough of career politicians colluding to keep outsiders like Donald Trump … out of power."
According to a report in the Washington Post, "A senior GOP aide familiar with Wisconsin politics wrote in an email: 'Voters in Southern Wisconsin soundly rejected Paul Nehlen on Tuesday. His new endeavor will likely produce the same result as Nehlen's gimmicky campaign, meaning it will exist primarily to enrich himself and his consultants under the specious claims of advancing true conservative reforms.'" That's especially funny in light of the Politico confessional over the weekend by Paul Jossey about how his and other right wing greedy super PACs drained the Tea Party movement with endless pleas for money to support 'conservative' candidates-- while instead using the money to enrich themselves. He asserted that "the Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered-- and it was an inside job... [having] degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives." Ah... the story of the modern Republican Party and the brainwashed morons who believe in it. It kind of sounds like a right-wing version of the DCCC:
What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”-- which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.Yesterday, Politico followed up with a feature by Elena Schneider, The GOP Establishment strikes back about how the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Republican Party has declared a quiet-- but nonetheless ruthless and brutal war against the far right grassroots. As we said two weeks ago, Tim Huelskamp's primary defeat-- something engineered by Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy-- was revenge and warning-- and possible because of the moribund condition of the drained Tea Party. Ryan's wing of the party "is going on offense, pushing back hard against candidates backed by the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, including defeated GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp-- setting the stage for a titanic intra-Republican fight during the next Congress."
...Republicans inside the Beltway reacted to the burgeoning Tea Party with glee but uncertainty about how to channel the grass-roots energy usually reserved for the left. A small group of supposedly conservative lawyers and consultants saw something different: dollar signs. The PACs found anger at the Republican Party sells very well. The campaigns they ran would be headlined “Boot John Boehner," or “Drop a Truth Bomb on Kevin McCarthy.” And after Boehner was in fact booted and McCarthy bombed in his bid to succeed him, it was naturally time to “Fire Paul Ryan." The selling is always urgent: “Stop what you’re doing” “This can’t wait.” One active solicitor is the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which received $6.7 million from 2013 to mid-2015, overwhelmingly from small donors. A typical solicitation from the TPLF read: “Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness.” But, according to an investigation by Politico, 87 percent of that “investment” went to overhead; only $910,000 of the $6.7 million raised was used to support political candidates. If the prospect signs a “petition,” typically a solicitation of his or her personal information is recorded and a new screen immediately appears asking for money. Vendors pass the information around in “list swaps” and “revenue shares” ad infinitum.
...For 18 months ending in 2013, I worked for one of these consultants, Dan Backer, who has served as treasurer for dozens of PACs, many now defunct, through his law and consulting firm. I thus benefited from the Tea Party’s fleecing.
...According to Federal Election Commission reports between 80 to 90 percent, and sometimes all the money these PACs get is swallowed in fees and poured into more prospecting. For example, conservative activist Larry Ward created Constitutional Rights PAC. He also runs Political Media, a communications firm. The New York Times reviewed Constitutional Rights’ filings and found: “Mr. Ward’s PAC spends every dollar it gets on consultants, mailings and fund-raising-- making no donations to candidates.” Ward justified the arrangement by saying Political Media discounts solicitations on behalf of Constitutional Rights.
Let that sink in. Ward takes his PAC’s money and redistributes it to his company and other vendors for more messaging and solicitations, but suggests critics should rest easy since the PAC gets a discount on Political Media’s normal rate. Constitutional Rights PAC may be extreme but it’s hardly an outlier.
...The PACs keep cash flowing by trolling the news for supposed apostasy. The government botches the rescue of employees in a foreign embassy? “Stand with us for Benghazi!” A bunch of kids are murdered in Connecticut? “Help us defend your Second Amendment rights!” “Sign our petition!”
Another favorite tactic is the “Draft Committee.” Pick a popular figure then start a committee to “draft” him or her to run for office. TPLF “drafted” Sarah Palin for Senate in Alaska and Backer “drafted” Newt Gingrich for Senate in Virginia. After I left his firm, Backer “drafted” new Texas resident Allen West for Senate in Florida. None of these candidates were remotely interested or associated with the effort, and in fact could not be by law. But there were signatures to collect and donations to request. (As a litigator, I rarely participated in the conduct described here. I nonetheless knew these schemes paid most of my salary.)
A collection of Republican donors and operatives loosely organized around several super PACs decided this summer to adopt newly aggressive tactics against GOP “obstructionists”-- or as John Hart, a former aide to ex-Sen. Tom Coburn, calls them: “Rebels In Name Only”-- after years of growing tea-party influence in Republican primaries and the halls of Congress.My friend at the RNC said he didn't know much more about this than what's appeared in print already. He did say, however, that they'd never be able to do this is the DCCC was "nimble" or prepared for "out of the box challenges." He told me this morning that his team feels "confident that the DCCC isn't capable of taking advantage of" a Republican civil war. "I never thought Pelosi could find someone stupider and less capable than Steve Israel. I think she managed to though."
...“The establishment’s position was always... [focused] in competitive seats, in situations where we believed [a different] candidate gave us a strategic advantage. It was never ideological. But now you’re seeing more and more activity in these safe seats,” said Brian O. Walsh, a GOP strategist and former National Republican Congressional Committee political director involved in these efforts.
“It’s like when you have a health problem,” Walsh continued. “First, you try to ignore it, see if it gets better. Then you try to treat it with meds. Now you just have to radiate it.”
That message comes at the end of the 2016 primary season but just a few months before a new Congress has to govern with a new president. The groups hope to show that 2018 primaries could be on the horizon if conservative rebels stand in the way of congressional Republicans’ legislative strategy.
“You have to get beyond saying only ‘no.’ You have to be effective. You have to propose solutions and govern,” said Rob Engstrom, the political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who noted that his group has backed House Freedom Caucus members in the past.
To “non-governing” members, “we want to put you on notice,” said a spokesman for Strong Leadership for America PAC, a new group that plans to focus on Republican and Democratic primaries, founded by donors who generally support the “No Labels” effort, which targeted Huelskamp with its first half-million dollars.
Conservatives in the House, used to playing offense, say they are under siege.
“Absolutely, we’re being targeted, absolutely,” said Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, a House Freedom Caucus member who’s seen a group called Right Way PAC drop $211,000 on negative radio ads and mailers (and promise more to come) ahead of his late-August primary. “Over and over again [this year], you see the same thing with them. Look, the Freedom Caucus hasn’t challenged anyone who’s a sitting member. We’ve only played in open seats, but isn’t that interesting that K Street and Wall Street are playing against members?
“This isn’t a game for this year, but a game for next year. This isn’t just a short game, this is a long game,” said Gosar, who’s still expected to win his primary. “There’s no stopping them.”
On this, Gosar and one of the new establishment-oriented PACs agree.
“This is a long game,” the Strong Leadership for America spokesman said. “Kansas was just one race, and it doesn't fundamentally change anything, but if we scale it up over time, we can fundamentally change the dynamic [in Washington]."
Huelskamp’s loss in Kansas and the result in an open Georgia race the week before, where small-town Mayor Drew Ferguson defeated a Freedom Caucus-endorsed state senator, Mike Crane, represented a sharp and expensive turnaround from some earlier 2016 primaries.
Candidates backed by the conservative Club for Growth held an Indiana open seat and even captured former House Speaker John Boehner’s open district, a huge symbolic victory delivered in spite of some spending by Right Way Initiative, a nonprofit affiliated with the super PAC of the same name.
ESAFund and its sister nonprofit Ending Spending, which has a long primary-spending track record dating back to 2010, weighed in again heavily this summer. The group has backed hard-line conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz and South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney in the past, and its principal goals include eliminating earmark projects, “reducing the size, scope and cost of government” and “electing a governing majority,” said PAC President Brian Baker.
“The key thing to understand is that we support only strong, principled fiscal conservatives with a plan to do just that-- and grandstanders need not apply,” Baker said. “We have a long track record of engaging in both primary and general elections to support or oppose candidates to achieve our goals.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, the Freedom Caucus chairman, sees things differently.
“Let’s make one thing clear, Washington special-interest groups poured money into these races against conservatives to stack the deck next year in favor of their agenda of comprehensive immigration reform, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, and raising the debt ceiling without making substantial cuts to spending,” Jordan said in a statement. “In these cases they were successful, but I believe the American people will speak out against this Washington-centric agenda going forward.”
...“The establishment has decided to gear up bigger, better and earlier, pouring in a lot of money,” said Sachtleben, who also pointed to two more Club-backed candidates in Florida and Arizona, races that will be decided later this month. “There’s a strong effort to undo any progress conservatives have made, and it’s going to take an effort to match that and overcome. It’s going to take a conservative response that’s already looking at 2018 and that needs to get serious, to get new seats and take back seats.”
That makes two sides ready to brawl in 2018.
Right Way Initiative and its super PAC also “intends to be a factor for a long time in deep red districts where one of the candidate choices represents constructive conservatism,” said Dan Flynn, a spokesman for the group who was involved in strategizing Huelskamp’s defeat in Kansas.
There are no candidates on this list of Bernie-backers who the DCCC is eager to see win in November. These are the men and women we should be helping-- proven and potential leaders like Pramila Jayapal (WA), Tim Canova (FL), Zephyr Teachout (NY), Alina Valdes (FL) and Tom Wakely (TX).