Monday, April 09, 2018

Never Heard Of Jason Bresler? Pelosi Is Letting Him Destroy The Democratic Party From Within



DCCC officials hate to admit the committee plays favorites in primaries. But it's become so obvious now-- in large part because of the clumsy incompetence of DCCC Political Director Jason Bresler-- that instead iff denying it, DCCCers just plead that it isn't ideological and that it's just a coincidence that they're always pushing conservative New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. They sure seem to always be stomping of progressives though, don't they? Branko Marcetic seems to have noticed it too-- and he's not trying to get invited to any DCCC cocktail parties. His post in the new In These Times, The DCCC's Long, Ugly History of Sabotaging Progressives needs to be widely read-- including by Democrats in Congress who keep the DCCC afloat by paying dues. Short version: "The latest attacks on left challengers are no fluke: For decades the House Democratic fundraising body has put corporate, big-money interests first."

He goes right for the kill with how Bresler tried to undermine Laura Moser in Texas's 7th district "out of fear she’s too far left." She's not very left and is running "on a platform of single payer, gun control and reproductive rights. In a move typically reserved for Republican opponents, the DCCC-- whose mission is to fundraise for Democratic House candidates-- posted opposition research it had conducted on Moser. Citing her recent move to Texas from Washington, D.C., and her campaign’s payments to her husband’s D.C. research firm, the memo portrayed her as corrupt and a carpetbagger."

Bresler was twisting the facts to help another candidate-- Alex Triantaphyllis--who came in a distant 4th and missed the runoff. Marcetic wrote that "Despite these attacks, Moser came in second in the primary, moving on to a May 22 runoff." Others say she made the runoff because of the DCCC attacks, which quickly foiled her campaign coffers with small dollar donations from around the country.
This could well be the year the Democrats take control of the House for the first time since 2010. Of the 90 seats the party is targeting for November, just 24 need to turn blue, a prospect made all the more exciting by the Bernie Sanders-inspired deluge of progressive candidates around the country. But the DCCC is emerging as that movement’s counterweight, if not downright enemy.

The DCCC, chaired by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), has teamed up with the House’s centrist Blue Dog caucus to recruit candidates for the 2018 elections, attempting to replicate the 2006 strategy of then-DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel. Democrats did win back the House in 2006 (arguably due as much to George W. Bush’s historic unpopularity as to Emanuel), but the influx of conservative Democrats contributed to a watering down of the Affordable Care Act and Wall Street reform, a shift to austerity, and, eventually, legislative stalemate.

That doesn’t seem to bother the DCCC.

The Committee’s recruits are heavily weighted toward military veterans and former national security officials. Elissa Slotkin, a DCCC-backed candidate in Michigan’s 8th District, worked for the CIA in Iraq under John Negroponte before moving to George W. Bush’s National Security Council and then Barack Obama’s State and Defense Departments. Slotkin was an architect of the failed “surge” strategy in Iraq and continues to claim it as a success. As recently as 2014, she praised Negroponte-- whose claim to fame is covering up the atrocities committed by Reagan-supported right-wing forces in Central America.

The DCCC’s candidates also skew toward the well-heeled and well-connected. An heir to a liquor fortune, a millionaire philanthropist, a furniture company heir and former State Department official, the former executive of a shoe company once accused of labor abuses: All appear on the DCCC’s 2018 roster. Angie Craig, running in Minnesota’s 2nd District, was an executive of a powerful medical technology company and spent her time there funneling money to mostly Republicans.

In Nebraska’s 2nd District, the DCCC lent a hand to Brad Ashford—a former Republican who favors abortion restrictions-- at the expense of his more progressive primary challenger Kara Eastman, who supports reproductive rights, Medicare for All and other progressive policies. Over in Virginia’s 2nd, the DCCC swung in early behind businesswoman Elaine Luria, a military veteran who twice voted for her Republican opponent, over Karen Mallard, a union member who supports a $15 minimum wage and universal healthcare.

Goal ThermometerDCCC officials and alumni have also reportedly stepped in to nudge progressive candidates out of several House races. In Colorado’s 6th, a Democratic-leaning swing district where Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is considered vulnerable, party officials are reportedly trying to clear the field for DCCC-trained former Army Ranger Jason Crow. Levi Tillemann, a progressive candidate whose campaign is managed by a Sanders 2016 alum, says he was asked in January by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer-- a former DCCC official and major fundraiser-- to exit the race because Democratic leaders had decided “very early on” to back Crow.

In Pennsylvania’s 7th District, the DCCC pressured out a progressive because they felt their pick would be a better fundraiser. In California’s 39th, it was to make way for a lottery-winning lifelong Republican who switched parties because he believes the Democrats are closer than the GOP to Reagan-era Republicanism.

The DCCC appears reluctant to support progressives even when they present the only opportunity to flip a red seat. Last year, the Committee largely stayed away from the special election for Montana’s at-large district, spending a mere $340,000 on populist Rob Quist’s surging campaign, compared to the millions it poured into centrist John Ossoff’s bid for Georgia’s 6th district.

In the April 2017 special election for Kansas’ ultraconservative 4th District after Mike Pompeo was tapped as Trump’s CIA director, progressive James Thompson was frustrated that the DCCC put its resources to work only at the last minute. Thompson still came within seven points of flipping the district. Yet Thompson, who’s running again this year, isn’t featured on the DCCC’s list of “Red to Blue” candidates to support-- those running in Republican-held districts ripe to turn.

For all this electioneering, the DCCC’s hit rate hasn’t been stellar. In 2016, its preferred candidates lost 23 districts that Hillary Clinton won.

What explains the DCCC’s allergy to progressives? Part of the story lies in its history.

The 152-year-old organization has always been devoted to getting more Democrats elected, but its secondary mission has increasingly become the courting of wealth. As campaigns became more expensive with the advent of television, the DCCC began to alter its fundraising strategy from a single annual dinner to a year-round program with a full-time staff. In 1972, the Committee was used as a vehicle to funnel money to moderate Democrats from donors “opposing or cool” to George McGovern, as the Washington Post put it, but who didn’t want the donations to appear on their financial reports. These included BankPac (the American Bankers Association’s PAC) and the Mortgage Bankers PAC, among others.

The DCCC’s first major scandal came not long after. Chair Ohio Rep. Wayne Hays was tasked in 1973 with leading campaign finance reform in the House, a “whopping conflict of interest,” as the Philadelphia Inquirer noted at the time. Hays was known to “donate” funds from the DCCC and elsewhere to Democratic friends, even when they faced no GOP challenger. As head of the House Administration Committee, he dragged his feet on campaign finance reform and fought off attempts to unseat him by, among other things, reminding freshmen Democrats about the campaign funds he controlled. Hays ultimately resigned in 1976 after a clerk alleged she had been hired to provide him sexual services on the taxpayers’ dime.

The chair of the DCCC from 1981 to 1989 was Rep. Tony Coelho (D-CA), a fiscal conservative who endorsed the balanced budget constitutional amendment. Coelho raised mountains of cash by opening up the DCCC’s fundraising to defense contractors, oil producers, venture capitalists and other businesspeople that, as he put it, “the party kicked away in the 1970s.” Coelho resigned under an ethical cloud, but later served as an unpaid advisor to the Clinton administration, where he refused to publicly reveal his clients at his day job as an investment banker.

Under Coelho, hundreds of lobbyists and lawyers started attending the DCCC’s annual fundraising dinners. A brochure for Coelho’s “Speaker’s Club” promised members that, by donating thousands of dollars, they would be “assured courteous and direct access to” and “relaxed intimacy” with Democratic leaders and members of Congress. One anonymous liberal congressman complained to the Wall Street Journal, “Our butts are being peddled around town, a dollar at a time.”

In 1981, as representatives of the commodities industry embarked on a massive lobbying effort to prevent a clampdown on a tax avoidance scheme, Coelho told Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee that two of the industry reps were “friends of the Democratic Party, so don’t be too rough on them.”

Coelho eventually departed Congress, but the intertwining of Democratic politics and money interests never did. In 1991, Steven Soren, an Iowa Democrat, wrote in the Washington Post of his “appalling” experience as a congressional candidate, which, for him, embodied a worrying and “dramatic shift from participatory democracy to a highly centralized and manipulative system.”

At DCCC workshops in 1990, he explained, wide-eyed candidates-to-be were imparted advice like: “Money drives this town” (DCCC staff member Marty Stone), “You have to sell yourself in Washington first” (consultant Tom King) and “Raising campaign money from Washington PACs is much easier than from individuals because it’s a business relationship” (Nebraska Rep. Peter Hoagland). At one of the workshops, Rep. Beryl Anthony (D-AR), a former head of the DCCC, told corporate PAC representatives that they would be able to pick winners in the room that would “make your board of directors proud.”

Twenty-eight years later, little has changed. While the DCCC has seen a “Trump bump” in the form of a record surge of small-dollar donations for the 2018 election cycle, its model is still stuck in big-donor mode. As The Intercept reported, the DCCC routinely requires its candidates to be able to raise at least $250,000 from the contacts in their phones, thereby leaning toward well-connected, wealthier candidates who tend to sit on the party’s right.

The DCCC’s funding structure incentivizes candidates who can cough up-- or pull in-- big sums. Much of the DCCC’s purse is filled by the dues Democratic House members pay every election cycle. A spreadsheet leaked to Buzzfeed in 2014 detailed some of these dues: $450,000 to $800,000 for House leadership and $200,000 to $500,000 for committee members and chief deputy whips. As a 2017 report from Issue One, an ethics watchdog group, put it, these dues act as “committee taxes,” forcing lawmakers to fundraise if they want to sit on or chair powerful committees, and making fundraising skills-- not experience or knowledge-- the most important qualification.

“Because of this pressure for fundraising, members have to spend a whole lot of time dialing for dollars rather than legislating,” says Eric Heberlig, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

These dues, which the DCCC’s Senate counterpart doesn’t levy, were at first limited to top brass. Heberlig says this changed with the GOP’s first-in-40-years takeover of the House in 1994. “The party realized that if it got its incumbent members to chip in, they could take money from donors who had business before Congress and shift it to competitive districts.”

After legal limits were placed on “soft money” in 2002, the DCCC ratcheted dues up substantially. When Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson fell behind on his dues in 2004, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats warned him that he would be passed over for a ranking position on the House Agriculture Committee. He began raising increasing amounts from business PACs and large donors.

There’s also the influence of lobbyists. In 2017, the DCCC’s top five lobbying bundlers alone brought in more than $1.3 million. One was Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a progressive group. The other four-- Steven Elmendorf, Vincent Roberti, David Thomas and Tony Podesta-- count or have counted among their clients a dizzying line-up of corporate giants, including just about every major pharmaceutical company you can think of: Pfizer, Amgen, Sigma, Novartis.

Three of these lobbyists-- Podesta, Thomas and Elmendorf-- have previously represented the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry lobbying group that fiercely fights attempts to lower drug prices.

Such fundraising comes with access. A document leaked by one of the suspected Russian hackers in 2016 showed lobbyists for Goldman Sachs and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association-- whose PACs had donated to the DCCC-- complaining to DCCC chair Ben Ray Luján about “messaging demonizing Wall Street” and the influence of Elizabeth Warren. Luján reassured them that Warren didn’t speak for the party.

Perhaps the influence of Big Pharma donors helps explain why a DCCC-commissioned report leaked in February discouraged House members from campaigning on Medicare for All-- the policy that most distinguishes progressive challengers from the DCCC’s centrist picks.

Sanders has expressed disgust at the DCCC’s recent efforts to stomp out progressive challengers. He told The Hill in March, “That just continues the process of debasing the democratic system in this country and is why so many people are disgusted with politics.” He called the organization’s attacks on Moser in Texas “appalling” and “unacceptable.”

At a critical time for the Democratic Party to start winning, the establishment appears content to follow the same blueprint that left the party in electoral shambles. Then again, challenging the status quo and advancing a progressive agenda have never been the business of the DCCC, so long as the money keeps flowing.
These are the worst of this year's crop of DCCC-backed candidates (so far):
Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)
Lauren Baer (New Dem-FL)
Jason Crow (New Dem-CO)
Brendan Kelly (Blue Dog-IL)
Paul Davis (Blue Dog-KS)
Gretchen Driskell (Blue Dog-MI)
Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem-PA)
Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI)
Angie Craig (New Dem-MN)
Dean Phillips (New Dem-MN)
Dan McCready (Blue Dog-NC)
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Mikie Sherrill (New Dem-NJ)
Susie Lee (New Dem-NV)
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)
Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA)
Debbie Murarsel-Powell (New Dem-FL)
These aren't people who will be able to hold their seats in 2022, the next midterm, just as Emanuel's Blue Dogs and New Dems all lost their seats in 2010. Why? Because once they start voting with the Republicans, Democratic voters will understand they've been tricked by the DCCC once again and they'll just stay home on election day, just as they did in 2010. Marcetic's Jacobin piece last week was definitely a companion piece, hitting on the shitty-ness of some of the specific DCCC candidates. "It's no secret," he wrote, "that the Democrats are going for a repeat of 2006. All the elements are there: a deeply unpopular president; a host of districts seemingly ready to turn blue; and an aggressive push by the national party committees... So what can the party’s voters expect if these lucky individuals are voted in? The list-- much like the party’s picks in general-- tends towards military veterans and former officials, particularly if they happen to be business owners, wealthy, and well-connected. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the more notable names on the list." Here are the 10 worst on his list:
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02)

Kirkpatrick voted against cap and trade and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, a measure that failed by a single vote. A deficit hawk and supporter of a balanced-budget amendment, Kirkpatrick nonetheless joined Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts, and railed against Wall Street greed while voting against the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. Years later, she voted to weaken them.

She’s also been an implacable foe of environmental regulations, opposing the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gases and supporting a controversial Arizona mining project that environmentalists fear would wreak havoc on the local environment. This year, Kirkpatrick came out against the project at a candidate forum, before immediately walking back her opposition after the event, claiming she had “misheard” the question. This was the same forum in which she puzzlingly called Medicare for All a “massive tax cut” for corporations.

Jason Crow (CO-06)

Jason Crow, a lawyer and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan with a prominently displayed young family, would seem the platonic ideal of the DCCC’s new crop of Democrats, which is probably why minority whip Steny Hoyer tried to nudge one of his challengers out of the primary, explaining that the party had decided to back Crow “very early on.” Crow made a much-touted pledge not to accept corporate PAC money and came out hard against his Republican opponent for “the tens of thousands of dollars that he has taken from the gun lobby,” charging that “he does nothing because of the money that he takes and the people that he’s loyal to.”

So where does Crow get his money? His top contributor by far is Holland & Hart, the law firm at which he is a partner, and which also happens to do lobbying for a wide variety of corporate clients, such as the American Gaming Association, and a host of mining and fossil-fuel companies. In an added twist, it turns out that the firm lobbied against gun-control measures following the Aurora shooting (which took place in the district) on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and firearm accessory maker Magpul Industries. He also received $5,400 from Bain Capital, which Democrats considered the most evil company on the planet when it was politically convenient.

You can decide for yourself if taking money from a firm that lobbies for corporate clients makes a mockery of Crow’s pledge or not. But it’s worth noting that during Crow’s time at the firm he defended a predatory payday-lending firm and a fossil-fuel company charged with killing migratory birds. As for what Crow actually stands for, good luck finding out: his “values” page is mostly strategically vague twaddle that seems more focused on shoehorning in references to his military service than talking about specifics.

Paul Davis (KS-02)

Like many on this list, Davis is also running on gun control, but it’s not clear he’s best positioned to do so. During his twelve years in the Kansas House of Representatives, Davis voted to bar cities and counties from regulating firearms (and helped override the governor’s veto to do so), supported a bill that blocked federal regulations on firearms made and owned in the state, and voted to forbid the use of state funds for lobbying on gun regulations, earning him a respectable B rating from the NRA in 2014.

As DCCC literature itself trumpets, he’s “built a strong, centrist brand” in the state, which means he’s supported some conservative measures (drug testing welfare recipients, cutting more than $1 billion in spending during the recession, reducing the corporate tax rate) even as he’s taken laudable positions (supporting abortion rights and marriage equality while opposing the expansion of coal plants, various anti-union bills, and cuts to teacher job protections and unemployment benefits). The DCCC is betting that this-- along with Davis’s fundraising prowess-- will be enough to secure him the conservative district he’s running in.

But Davis appears to be repeating his strategy from the 2014 contest for the state’s governorship, in which he seemed a shoo-in against the incumbent, the preternaturally unpopular supply-side mad scientist Sam Brownback. In that race, Davis appeared pathologically disinclined to present an actual platform, content simply to point out the bad job Brownback was doing, talk up his love of public schools and bipartisanship, and tout his many, many GOP endorsements. Even as he railed against Brownback, he promised only to freeze his tax cuts rather than repealing them. His strategy foreshadowed Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, and scored an identical success rate. Davis lost in a squeaker, somehow managing to trail Brownback among nonwhite voters. Still, he carried the district that year.

Elissa Slotkin (MI-08)

Elissa Slotkin, the “hot dog heiress,” is among this year’s Democratic challengers being backed by the “moderate” New Democrat Coalition, which seems about right when you look at her website. Slotkin mixes a few progressive positions-- favoring marijuana decriminalization, a promise to empower Medicare to buy drugs in bulk, an insistence that entitlements be protected-- with paeans to fiscal responsibility and a reluctance to support Medicare for All.

But for the groups that recruited her, including Emily’s List and the DCCC, Slotkin’s main selling point is also her chief red flag: the more than a decade she spent in the national-security establishment, first in the CIA, then in George W. Bush’s National Security Council, and finally in Obama’s State and Defense Departments. At her 2014 nomination hearing for the post of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, she called John Negroponte-- the first postwar ambassador to Iraq, who had earned his stripes by covering up the abuses of Reagan-backed right-wing forces in Central America-- an “exemplary boss” who embodied “ the meaning of committed leadership,” and that she hoped to live up to his expectations.

If Slotkin wins, she’ll likely be a reliable supporter of the national security status quo. She’s boasted that one of her responsibilities as acting assistant secretary of defense was maintaining Israeli military supremacy, and was a big supporter of military assistance to Ukraine (which may well have included training the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion). When asked by John McCain if the surge in Iraq worked, she called it “the catalyst that turned the tide in Iraq,” and said she “supported it because I lived it,” having worked in the National Security Council when the administration decided on the surge. For the record, most experts disagree with Slotkin’s assessment.

Angie Craig (MN-02)

One of the few on this list running a second time for the same seat, Angie Craig is a former executive at St. Jude Medical, a multinational medical technology firm headquartered in Minnesota. Her previous run in 2016 against the now-incumbent Republican, then a right-wing shock jock, didn’t go so well-- Craig outspent him four to one and still lost. If all this doesn’t excite you, don’t worry-- there’s no one less enthusiastic about Craig running as a Democrat than Craig herself.

“You won’t find the word ‘Democrat’ on my campaign literature. You won’t find it on my TV ads,” she’s said. When her opposition tried to criticize the fact that she ran the St Jude Medical PAC from 2011 to 2015 (when she left the company), she had a ready rejoinder. “I sort of chuckle,” she said, “because the PAC donated far more to Republicans than they did to Democrats.” Some of her supporters will tell you Craig made the PAC more favorable to Democrats, but in fact, its giving was far more pro-Democrat before she took over, at which point it started tilting wildly toward the GOP.

Craig’s company was prolific in the lobbying field while she served as an executive there. In recent years, it spent millions of dollars to lobby against the 2.3 percent tax on medical-device supplies. It supported the TPP and opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, a major piece of pro-union legislation that Obama abandoned in 2009. It lobbied on the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill co-written by the medical device industry that sped up the FDA’s approval process for medical devices. It regularly lobbied on regulatory process reform in the FDA, including in support of a law that would have added “promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation” to the FDA’s mission. You will be shocked to learn Craig doesn’t support single payer either.

Brad Ashford (NE-02)

Ashford is one of the more high-profile names on the Red to Blue list, due to the controversy over the DCCC’s decision to back him over his progressive primary opponent, Kara Eastman. In Nebraska’s state legislature, Ashford had voted as a sort of liberal Republican, on the one hand introducing bills that repealed corporate taxes and barred businesses from hiring undocumented workers, while also opposing an Arizona-style immigration crackdown, supporting gay rights and gun control, and backing a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty.

At some point, Ashford became a Democrat, and in 2014 he knocked out sixteen-year GOP incumbent Lee Terry thanks largely to an intense get-out-the-vote effort that year by supporters of a successful ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage, which attracted Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day. Ashford was sent to Washington, and within less than a month of being sworn in made good on his promise to work with the Republicans, voting with them to pass six bills opposed by his own party, including a repeal of Wall Street regulations, a lobbyist-backed repeal of Obamacare’s thirty-hour week definition of full-time work, and a bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline (after the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund endorsed him, no less).

Other highlights of his time in Congress included voting for a homeland-security funding bill that would have repealed DACA (“National security does trump that issue,” he explained), voting against the Iran deal and against closing Guantanamo, and supporting a bill, opposed by civil-rights groups, that allowed racial discrimination in auto lending. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the voters who turned out to elect him in 2014 seemingly abandoned him two years later. But while Democratic voters may not be particularly enthused about another Ashford win, with his stated philosophy of “ratcheting back a lot of the regulation and letting businesses grow,” Trump will no doubt be pleased.

Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02)

One would think a lawmaker who’s achieved the NRA hat-trick-- an endorsement, a 100 percent rating, and a donation (which he also got from several other gun lobbies)-- would be a risky bet in a year where grassroots anger over gun laws is swelling and Democrats are stressing gun control as a key issue. But the DCCC doesn’t think so; it’s fully backing Jeff Van Drew, who has been described by one local Democratic official as a “transactional politician” and in some ways more conservative than the retiring Republican.

Transactional indeed. One of the first things Van Drew did as a state legislator in 2003 was lend a hand to fellow lawmaker Joe Roberts, who wanted to pass a bill allowing optometrists to carry out surgeries, something only medical doctors with years of training and residency were legally permitted to do. The fact that Roberts was heavily invested in the optometry industry was no doubt just a coincidence, but the conflict of interest led him to withdraw the bill. Soon, Van Drew-- who had received almost all of his campaign donations from a PAC chaired by Roberts-- put forward an almost identical bill, before withdrawing it, too, in a hail of controversy.

Besides this, over the years Van Drew has voted multiple times against raising the state’s minimum wage; voted against abolishing its death penalty-- then, years after its repeal, attempted to revive it; sponsored a Chris Christie-backed bill to end affordable-housing quotas; was the only Democrat to vote against letting undocumented immigrants benefit from state financial aid; opposed marriage equality; supported pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and put forward a constitutional amendment that would open the door to parental-notification requirements for abortions. Sounds like the perfect candidate to run in a district described as leaning Democratic.

Susie Lee (NV-03)

Susie Lee might be best known as the millionaire philanthropist whose vast resources led EMILY’s List, infamously, to endorse her over Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores in 2016. Despite finishing third that year, Lee is giving it another go with the DCCC’s backing and at Harry Reid’s urging.

Lee reportedly backed a $15 minimum wage and an expansion of Social Security in 2016. The “economic opportunity” section of her current website, however, doesn’t mention either. She was also the only major Democratic contender that year to oppose the Iran deal. Lee faced a minor controversy over not just her extreme wealth (Lee and her husband, a casino executive, own seventeen homes and a plane) but for their investments: their account manager put money in companies like Wal-Mart, Halliburton, and a private-prison company, which they’ve since divested from.

Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06)

Chrissy Houlahan hits just about every beat necessary for today’s Democratic Party: she’s a veteran, a businesswoman, taught at an inner-city school, started a nonprofit devoted to teaching kids literacy, and doesn’t back Medicare for All. While it’s not on her website, Houlahan has at least said she’d support a government public health-insurance program, which is a more interesting answer than the usual vague platitudes to “improve” Obamacare that the rest of the DCCC’s picks present.

One issue with Houlahan’s background is that while she was an executive overseeing production, distribution, and logistics for And1, the shoe company was implicated in a National Labor Committee report on Chinese sweatshops. While the report focused on a Puma plant-- noting seventy-five- to one hundred-hour workweeks, thirty-five cent hourly wages, military-like drills, and food resembling “pig slop”-- it noted that conditions at And1’s factory were “extremely similar.”

Ben McAdams (UT-04)

Unlike e most on the DCCC’s list, Ben McAdams has a decent record. As a Salt Lake City mayoral aide he worked to ensure passage of ordinances against LGBTQ discrimination and even succeeded in getting the anti-gay Mormon Church to sign on. One of his first acts as Salt Lake County mayor was to give public employees their first (modest) pay rise since 2009, restore retirement benefits cut the year before that, and add autism to their health-insurance coverage.

He also prioritized reforming the county’s “broken” criminal-justice system, took heat for declining to give Facebook a $240 million tax handout to build a wasteful data center, and struggled to build new homeless shelters in the face of ferocious opposition from county neighborhoods, costing him a ten-point drop in approval ratings. McAdams even spent three days undercover as a homeless person to find out the state of the county’s shelters.

But there’s another side to his record. A legislator who spends a lot of time talking about “efficiency” and “fiscal responsibility,” McAdams has generally refused to raise taxes. Maybe that’s why in 2015 he proposed, before subsequently dropping, plans to cut public employees’ retirement benefits to pay for his initiatives. He’s also enamored with public-private partnerships, working with Goldman Sachs to bring special-education programs to Salt Lake County-- for a profit. The New York Times later found that while Goldman Sachs collected a healthy profit from the venture, the results were overstated. Undeterred, McAdams continued to push for similar programs to deal with prison recidivism and homelessness.

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At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite the gathered evidence of DxCC perfidy, we here at DWT will still be lambasted with critical commentary telling us real progressives that we "need to pull together" even if the DxCC choice for an office is just as Republican as the opposition party's candidate.

Screw that!

If a real progressive isn't good enough for you, then follow Harry Truman's dictum and elect a real Republican. That is clearly what such a person truly desires anyway.

At 12:50 AM, Blogger Daro said...

I'm taking bets. Nancy Pelosi dies in office of old age. Might take 25 years to get the payout, but I'll have the last laugh.

At 8:18 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Well said Nina Turner.


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