Thursday, September 18, 2008

BIPAC Rears Its Ugly Head Again-- Endorses Reactionary Democrats


BIPAC buys a stake in the Democratic Party

Last July when Blue America was trying to help Georgia state Senator Regina Thomas challenge right-wing Democrat John Barrow in the primary, we found ourselves being undercut from the left. The main culprit, who did the most damage to Regina's chances was Obama, who, for his own electoral strategies, endorsed a congressman who will vote against Obama's agenda of change if Obama makes it to the White House. But there were also a number of clueless and dysfunctional labor unions who were endorsing and donating to Barrow because they are, first and foremost pawns in the Democratic Party incumbent protection game.

We were able to stop one major union from endorsing Barrow by breaking the story that Barrow had accepted the endorsement of BIPAC, the Business Industry Political Action Committee. BIPAC is generally thought of as a Republican front group funded by executives of special interest corporations like Exxon Mobil, Caterpillar, Halliburton, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Verizon, W.R. Grace, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Goodyear Tire, Southern Co, Rolls Royce, Occidental, Data Recognition Corp., HSBC, Kinsey, Intel, Weyerhaeuser, Boeing, General Motors, Devon Energy, Blessing Petroleum, Sun Microsystems, etc. In 2006 85% of their donations went to Republicans. The only exception in the Senate being the most conservative Democrat in that body, Ben Nelson (D-NE). Every single one of their Republican Senate candidates lost.

BIPAC found it awkward that all their Republican Senate endorsees-- James Talent, Rick Santoum, Tom Keane, Mark Kennedy, Michael McGavick, and Michael Steele-- were defeated, as were most of the House picks. They found their influence severely diminished in the new Congress. So this year the anti-union PAC has been endorsing Blue Dogs and other nominal Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Aside from Obama's pal Barrow, a Democrat who votes more frequently with the GOP on crucial contested matters than with the Democrats, BIPAC has picked out a rogues gallery of far right House Democrats in difficult races: Melissa Bean (IL), Nick Lampson (TX), Jim Marshall (GA), Ciro Rodriguez (TX), Bobby Bright (AL), Kurt Schrader (OR). They had previously endorsed Mark Warner in the Virginia Senate race, Barrow and Adam Cote, who was decisively defeated in the Maine Democratic primary by a progressive, Chellie Pingree.

Today BIPAC also announced that it would help fund campaigns against Democrats who have been friendly to unions and working families, particularly Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Dina Titus (D-NV).

This puts unions is an awkward position in several races. Melissa Bean, for example, a virulent Blue Dog, and no friend of working families by any stretch of the imagination, has collected over a million dollars from some of the worst union-busting PACs even before her endorsement from BIPAC. Although the bulk of her money comes from Republican-leaning PACs, she rakes in the dough from non-strategic thinking outfits like Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Emily's List, the League of Conservation Voters, and Planned Parenthood. 9% of her PAC contributions ($126,750) come from labor unions, money they would actually be better off flushing down the toilet. It's funny to see $10,000 contributions from Phil Gramm's Credit Suisse PAC next to $10,000 donations from the Plumbers/Pipefitters Union and from the Sheet Metal Workers Union. And now BIPAC. Her voting record in Congress reflects her devotion to business interests, especially on trade policy, where she's been a gung ho advocate for the most destruction positions that have resulted in shipping American jobs overseas. Good to know labor union executives pay close attention when they squander their members' dues on candidates who vote against their basic interests.

And it's not just Bean. Nick Lampson's PAC money has come from business ($339,925) and labor ($209,500) and so has Jim Marshall's, $392,515 from business and $170,000 from labor. Alabama "Democrat" Bobby Bright was plucked right out of the deepest bowels of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. He's against virtually everything Democrats stand for-- other than having more Democrats in the House. If Democratic activists have adopted "More and Better Democrats" as a slogan, Bright's would be "More and Worse-- Much Worse-- Democrats." And yet, his bid for the open seat is being financed more by labor ($47,000) than by business ($26,500), mostly because business is still hoping to get Jay Love, a far right reactionary Republican elected (and his donated $77,750 in PAC money towards that effort). They know that if Bright wins, he'll vote how they want him to anyway.

This might be a good time to mention that you will never find an anti-union Democrat on the Blue America endorsed candidates list and that the day will never come when BIPAC and Blue America are canceling out each other's contributions by donating to the same candidate. This Saturday we'll begin a one week promotional competition for our five progressive candidates running for the U.S. Senate, Tom Allen (D-ME), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rick Noriega (D-TX) and Andrew Rice (D-OK). One thing all five of these Democrats have in common is that they are all champions of working families and will not ever be putting special interests above the interests of ordinary American families. BIPAC isn't supporting any of them. It sure would have been nice to see all those union dues that have been wasted on the Melissa Beans and Nick Lampsons have gone to real friends of labor like the five candidates above.

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