Monday, April 16, 2018

The Toxicity Of Donald Trump: One Of The GOP's Biggest Contributors Is Now Giving To Democrats


Joe Ricketts' Ending Spending Fund was founded to help candidates with the primitive idea that federal budgets need to be "balanced," basically so that government could not engage in doing any good for citizens or for society at large. Spending creates national wealth, something conservative nincompoops like the Ricketts family refuses to understand. His PAC spent $804,319 attacking Bernie Sanders as well as millions in ads supporting reactionary losers Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Joe Heck (R-NV), Josh Mandel (R-OH), Richard Moudock (R-IN), Art Robinson (R-OR)-- the Mercer urine guru-- and Terri Lynn (R-MI). Their biggest expenditure was in 2012 when they spent about $10 million opposing Obama and supporting Romney. One of their big donors was Seth Klarman, who put $850,000 into the PAC.

That wasn't even Klarman's biggest contribution to right wing politics. He put $3,750,000 into the GOP SuperPAC, American Unity, which supported a long list of Republican losers like Judy Biggert (IL), Andrew Roraback (CT) Linda McMahon (CT), Nan Hayworth (NY), Richard Tisei (MA), Monica Wehby (OR), and Dan Innis (NH). They spent large sums attacking Zephyr Teachout (NY), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Bill Foster (IL), and Raul Ruiz (CA). Klarman spent another $500,000 on the Marco Rubio SuperPAC, Conservative Solutions, and hundreds of thousands more on right wing candidates, state committees and PACs. Like Paul Ryan, over and over and over. (So he didn't know?)

When he gave to Democrats, it was generally conservative Democrats like Joe Lieberman (CT), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Adam Schiff (New Dem-CA), Doug Jones (AL), Stephanie Murphy, (Blue Dog-FL) Mark Warner (VA) and Steve Israel (Blue Dog-NY), as well as, more recently, to the DCCC itself.

Yesterday, Annie Lindskey, reporting for the Boston Globe wrote that Klarman is disappointed with the GOP and has switched his giving to the Democrats.
Boston hedge fund billionaire Seth Klarman lavished more than $7 million on Republican candidates and political committees during the Obama administration, using his fortune to help underwrite a GOP takeover of the federal government.

But the rise of Donald Trump shocked and dismayed Klarman, as did the timid response from the Republican-controlled House and Senate, which have acquiesced rather than challenge the president’s erratic and divisive ways. So, in an astonishing flip, Klarman, at one point New England’s most generous donor to Republicans, is taking his money elsewhere: He’s heaping cash on Democrats.

He’s given roughly $222,000 since the 2016 election to 78 Democrats running for Congress, according to federal election data from 2017 and a preview of Klarman’s first-quarter donations provided to the Globe by a person familiar with his giving.

“The Republicans in Congress have failed to hold the president accountable and have abandoned their historic beliefs and values,” Klarman said in a prepared statement to the Globe, opening up for the first time about the reasons behind his change in political giving. “For the good of the country, the Democrats must take back one or both houses of Congress.”

Klarman said he’s financing his new political donations using his share of the $1.5 trillion tax cut Trump signed into law late last year.

“I received a tax cut I neither need nor want,” said Klarman, who Forbes estimates is worth $1.5 billion. “I’m choosing to invest it to fight the administration’s flawed policies and to elect Democrats to the Senate and House of Representatives.”

His money has been spread out to Democrats running for 56 House seats and 22 Senate contests, including checks to Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Klarman plans to continue writing checks, according to the person familiar with his giving.

Klarman has also donated nearly $2 million to a host of nonprofits pushing issues like gun control, protecting the environment, and bolstering the rule of law, according to the person briefed on his giving-- all areas that Democrats say are under attack in the Trump era.

Many traditional Republican donors have privately expressed concern over Trump and the direction he’s taking the country, yet they’ve largely decided to keep their views quiet and their giving patterns unchanged. Some want to work with the administration on some pet issues, or they fear antagonizing the president. But as Trump has become increasingly isolated and unpredictable-- even musing about overhauling the Justice Department last week to limit the criminal investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election-- chatter about defection is growing.

“These guys, a lot of them, are fiscal conservatives, and the only thing they see coming out of Trump is the daily crazy tweets,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican who does not support Trump. “The contempt for him is profound among the donor community.”

It will be hard to know if Klarman, in his dramatic shift, is an outlier or part of a larger trend until more federal campaign contribution data become public in coming months.

He started his larger shift in giving early in 2017, giving to support Democrat Jon Ossoff, who ran unsuccessfully in a June special election to fill a vacant House seat in Georgia. He also backed Doug Jones, the Democrat who won a special Senate election in Alabama after his Republican opponent was accused of assault by multiple women.

He also sent about $34,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is aimed at electing a majority of Democrats to the House of Representatives. For context, in 2016, Klarman gave nearly $200,000 to the Republican National Campaign Committee, which is geared toward electing Republicans, and none to the comparable Democratic committees.

His philosophy, as gleaned from his recent letters to investors, is more focused on finding ways to check Trump than a wholesale embrace of the Democratic Party.

“Democracies are fragile and cannot be taken for granted,” Klarman wrote to investors in the January 2017 letter. “Democratic norms are crucial for the perpetuation of democracy. Political stability depends on the rule of law and adherence to precedent.”

He kept up the drumbeat this year. “Governing is not a joke or a farce, and it is certainly not a reality show,” Klarman wrote in his more recent letter wrapping up 2017, portions of which were obtained by the Globe and haven’t been previously reported. “Tragically, Donald Trump has displayed few of the character traits required in a US president, and no aptitude for or interest in developing them.”

He is particularly concerned about Trump’s attack on institutions that are fundaments of democracy, like a free press, an independent judiciary, the legitimacy of elections, and the importance of honesty.

...“Many say reflexively that America and its institutions are strong, so strong that they will survive a Trump presidency. And they probably will,” Klarman wrote in his 2017 year-end letter. “But democracy must never be taken for granted.”

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At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This practice needs to be watched. It's looking like the Republican wing of the "democratic" Party is the subject of a takeover bid because the actual Republicans are getting too close to the edge. For such purchasers, it's not a bad deal since so many of the "democrats" are already good little corporatists.

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The money finds that the democraps are better for them than the Rs. Until Rs make even bigger promises.

money money money money money. all hail the omnipotent dollar.

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't take this as a good sign. I see this as GOP money effectively being used to push back against progressive efforts within the Democratic Party. Klarman's hedge fund is also one of the biggest holders of Puerto Rican debt and his statements about the humanitarian crisis in that country have been troubling.

The GOP tax bill was also probably a bit of a mixed back for someone like Klarman in a high tax state like MA.

You also kind of have to wonder why it took Trump for someone to turn the corner. The GOP has been an abomination for years. When I read this news early today, my first thought was "Oh, that helps to explain why Dems in the Senate and the House are voting with the GOP to weaken Dodd-Frank". e.g. moves that ultimately will do significant harm to Democratic constituencies.

We may get a reprieve in 2018 and 2020, but if the Dems squander this moment the same way they completely blew 2009-2010, we will be dealing with worse than Trump in the future.

At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:21, I see I have 1 believer here.

It's not a coincidence that the democraps are dereg'ing (not that dodd-frank did much reg-ing. it's almost all illusory) AND that democraps are getting millions from wall street.

it's not a chicken/egg conundrum. it's the coincident chicken/egg meme.

The democraps will "squander" (from the perspective of all lefty voters) this anti-red windfall. They will do what they did in 2006-2008 -- use it for leverage to extract even more money from corporations to NOT regulate them nor raise their taxes. Only harriet reid is gone, but scummer is worse. Pelosi, hoyer and Crowley are still there. their tactics and motives have never changed.

2020, 2024... one will give us WTT. Worst Than Trump.


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