Sunday, January 03, 2016

Does The Idea Of Rich People Buying Presidential Candidates Turn You Off?


At a rally in Amherst, Massachusetts yesterday, attended by between 3 and 4,000 people, Bernie addressed the structure of campaign finance: "You are not looking at democracy, you are looking at oligarchy and together we are going to put an end to it." After the rally he tweeted, "We're proud to have raised more than $33 million this quarter, with an average contribution of $27." Actually, Bernie did slightly better than that-- $33,281,952, none of it through SuperPACs, bringing his total to $73 million. He has $28.4 million cash on hand to Hillary's $38 million, one million more than she raised in the 4th quarter. The only Republicans who have announced their 4th quarter totals so far are Dr. Ben ($23 million) and Cruz ($20 million). Neither Clinton nor Cruz has announced how much dark money their various SuperPACs have brought it and in Cruz's case, likely far more than his own campaign has managed to bring in. Before this quarter, Cruz's shady SuperPACs had taken in $38,655,257 (to $26,567,298 for the campaign). Jeb, Rubio, Christie and Huckabee all bring in SuperPAC money in excess of money from normal contributors. The 2,513,665 individual donations so far to Bernie's campaign broke the all-time record, 2,209,636 donations, set by Obama in 2011. The average donation to Bernie this last quarter was $27.16.

The key here-- and what makes it significant-- is that Bernie has refused to take part in a campaign finance system that stinks of corruption and because of the advances in social media can appeal directly to voters. This is discomforting to the oligarchs backing Cruz, Jeb, Hillary, Rubio and the rest of their corporate candidates/captives. Peter Nicholas wrote for that Wall Street Journal yesterday that "More than one million people donated to the Sanders campaign, giving an average of about $27, the campaign said. Of these donors, a fraction gave the maximum contribution of $2,700, meaning Mr. Sanders can go back to virtually all of his supporters and ask for more money as the primary season plays out."

Let's use Huckabee as an example of how that works. His campaign raised $3,246,200 (less than Kasich, less than O'Malley, less than Christie) but he was able to persuade a tiny handful of very rich pals to get around the rules by donating to a SuperPAC which he controls-but-denies-controling, Pursuing America's Greatness. (He slipped up on Fox News Sunday that he tells them what to do, which is completely illegal.) Anyway, Pursuing America's Greatness SuperPAC has taken in $3,604,987. Of that, though, almost all of it came from 2 donors: Ronald Cameron, a rich chicken processor from Little Rock who inherited the company his grandfather started in 1914, Mountaire Corp, and who gave $3,000,000; and then Sharon Herschend of Herschend Family Entertainment which runs, among other things, Dollywood, Ride the Ducks and Stone Mountain (the Confederate Mount Rushmore and a birthplace of the KKK) and forked over $500,000. And then 2 other oligarchs, Cary Maguire of Maguire Oil in Dallas and Jon Gibson, a real estate investor in McCook, Nebraska gave $50,000 each and Huckabee has a SuperPAC. Maguire has covered a lot of bases, having given Scott Walker's SuperPAC $50,000 and the Jebster's SuperPAC $100,000. Looks like he really doesn't like his home-state senator much and has only written him two checks, $1,000 each one in 2011 and one in 2012.

In the past we've talked about how just 3-- technically 4 although two are brothers-- reactionary billionaires are funding Cruz's SuperPACs. Long Island hedge fund crook Robert Mercer committed $11 million and has now upped it to $30 million. The two crackpot Wilks brothers gave $15 million and Toby Neugebauer, a crooked energy manipulator and son of far right Congressman Randy Neugebauer, got the ball rolling for Cruz with $10 million in seed money. Yesterday, The Hill did a rundown of some of the lesser known billionaires betting on the corrupt politicians greedily taking their money and Farris Wilks was included:
If Texas Sen. Ted Cruz wins the Republican presidential nomination he will owe a major debt of gratitude to the billionaire pastor Farris Wilks and his family, which made their fortune from fracking.

Until 2015, Wilks, who leads the Assembly of Yahweh, 7th Day, in Cisco, Texas, and his brother Daniel had made zero impression in the world of big money politics. FEC records show that Daniel had donated not a penny to any federal candidate, and Farris had only given $61,620.

But in 2015 these brothers, reportedly inspired by their social conservative values [they are obsessed with homosexuality and think Cruz will end it or something], made donations to Cruz’s super-PAC, which immediately announced them as two of the highest-capacity check writers in conservative politics. Between Farris, Daniel and their two wives, they have so far been reported giving $15 million to Keep the Promise III.

While Cruz’s super-PACs have spent very little to date, their unexpectedly large bank accounts gave other establishment donors early confidence that Cruz was a serious candidate who could raise money both from grassroots donors into his campaign and from large donors into his super-PACs.

Cruz’s combination of high and low-end donors is unique in the current Republican field-- and positions him to compete right through the nominating season.
Actually, a couple of these other billionaires are a hoot too. Here in California everyone in right-wing politics knows who nutty billionaire John Jordan is. The maker of extremely mediocre wines at the Sonoma winery he inherited from his parents, his true vocation is picking right-wing political losers and wasting enormous sums of money on them. People in California say he is the poster child for much higher estate taxes. This time around he's glommed onto Marco Rubio or Rubio's glommed on to him and started his own SuperPAC for the effort, Baby Got PAC. Jordan likes making his own dramatic, usually nasty, manipulative videos, like this one he did for Rubio:

So far he's reported spending $237,230 on Rubio's behalf. The Hill also mentions Mel Heifetz, Pennsylvania's biggest Obama donor who gave a million dollars last year but wasn't enthusiastic about anyone this year... but now grudgingly says he'll support Hillary. We all know who the notorious neo-Nazi Koch brothers are, Charles and David, but there's a third one from the litter who isn't close with the other two monsters, Bill. He is a right wing Republican of course and this month he's opening his Palm Beach mansion for a high dollar Rubio fundraiser. Although he's given to Rubio in the past, he expresses his conservatism, at least financially, by giving Chuck Schumer huge sums of money for the DSCC ($83,000).

Today's gas-bag shows gave free media exposure to:
Bernie- ABC's This Week and CNN's State of the Union
Trumpf- CBS' Face the Nation (pre-taped)
Rand Paul- NBC's Meet the Press
John Kasich- NBC's Meet the Press
Dr. Ben- ABC's This Week
The poor Jebster- Fox News Sunday
Christie- Fox News Sunday
Fiorina- CNN's State of the Union
If you'd like to see someone in the White House who will really work to get billionaire bucks out of our political system, there is just one person committed to that for real: this guy (yes, the one in the video below).

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