Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Understanding the $ in Uni-Party Leader$hip
You would be amazed at the complex rivers of cash [in Washington, DC], and where they flow. – Page 56
After being distracted over the holidays and the entire month of January, the snow and ice on the roads here in TX these last couple of days have allowed me some semi-down time to catch up on my notes from a couple of Peter Schweizer books (see Standard Disclaimer at the end of this post). I am currently working my way through those for Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Your Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets (2013), and I have just typed out several passages on leadership PACs that have (re-)raised a serious question in my mind. But first, some notes from the book…
In order to set the stage and calibrate your mind to that long ago era of 2012, I’ll start with this:
It is mindboggling to look at all the tributaries of cash that flow underground and aboveground in Washington. Consider the 2012 elections and Speaker of the House John Boehner’s fund raising machine. Boehner has a personal campaign committee, a leadership PAC, and a so-called joint fund-raising committee. He can tap wealthy donors for all three committees, and indeed, he often does. Boehner’s campaign committees transferred $22.4 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2012 election, according to FEC records. Over $11 million of that came from his campaign committee, Friends of John Boehner, and more than $10 million came from his joint fund-raising committee. Meanwhile, his leadership PAC, the Freedom Project, together with his campaign account, gave a total of $2.4 million directly to 2021 congressional candidates.
With a so-called leadership PAC, Boehner can transfer money to his colleagues’ campaign committees ($10,000 a year per colleague) and donate another $10,000 to the same colleagues’ own PACs. He can also transfer unlimited amounts of money to the National Republican Committee, which can then turn around and spend unlimited funds supporting those candidates’ reelection bids. …it’s perfectly legal in Washington. … – Pages 68-69
Given the appropriate inflationary factors for those 2012 dollars and another decade of perfecting the corruption in our beltway, it is hard to imagine the magnitudes that are flowing under the Pelosi machine today. But I digress.
Now, I want to focus a bit more on “leadership PACs”:
Leadership PACs are ostensibly about raising money to help political colleagues hold and win seats. But the FEC has few restrictions on how these monies can be used and does not restrict the “personal use” of such funds. “Congress has never extended the personal-use restrictions to leadership PACs,” says former FEC chairman Michael Toner. “The FEC has looked at this over the years and has determined they don’t have the statutory ability to address this. It will take an act of Congress.” – Page 103
What leadership PACs provide is essentially a second personal bank account, or a second pocket from which politicians can pull money. – Page 104
Lots of money, virtually unregulated, and the fox is guarding the henhouse. What could go wrong? (Answer: Nothing, of course, this is working exactly how it was set up to run. Kinda puts the joke to the “get the money out of politics” you were promised with the McCain-Feingold-Bush legislation. The uni-Party is still laughing at you on that one.)
How about a couple of 2012 examples of how things work in practice…just for additional reference? First, a Democrat:
During the 2012 election cycle, … [Congressman John Conyers] raised $99,300, which is a small total by leadership PAC standards. (In 2010 he did much better, raking in more than $200,000.) But of the nearly $100,000 he raised, Conyers gave only $1,430 to other candidates, which is the stated purpose of his PAC. Instead, he spent more than six times that amount on the National Football League ($6,595) and ESPN ($6,900) to attend awards events. Conyers spent even more on limousine services for himself ($1,500) than he did on candidates. … The congressman also dropped serious money at the Rock Bottom Brewery ($1,300). Conyers is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. The vast majority of the money he raised came from corporate PACs and lobbyists. – Pages 105-106
And then, from the other side of the uni-Party, a Republican:
… After the November 20212 election, [Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri] retreated to the beautiful sanctuary at Kiawah Island on Johns Island, South Carolina. The [leadership PAC Rely on Your Beliefs Fund he leads] dropped $11,334 there on November 14 for “PAC LODGING & EVENT CATERING.” Two months earlier, the PAC dropped $12,481 for “PAC LODGING & FACILITIES FEE.” On December 7, 2012, there was another $1,584 expense for “LODGING” at the resort, and on December 13, 2012 the PAC spent $11,684 on yet another event. In all, the PAC spent over $65,000 at this location during the 2012 election cycle. Indeed, Blunt spent more at the Kiawah resort through his leadership PAC than he transferred from the PAC to the National Republican Senatorial Committee to elect other Republicans. And while he gave other Senate candidates over $240,000, that was a small fraction of the $1.1 million he raised. Meanwhile, his political aide Keri Anne Hays received $296,000 in salary and benefits from the leadership PAC during the 2012 election cycle, more than all the Republican candidates received. – Page 106
What a country, indeed. Schweizer summarizes the grotesque system – in all its glory – about as well as one could with these:
Politics in Washington is a lot like professional wrestling. What seems like vicious combat to the uninitiated is actually choreographed acting. … But in fact, they are partners in a commercial enterprise to entertain and to extract money from an audience. No matter who wins the match, everyone gets paid. – Pages 8-9
Washington may not be working for citizen, but it’s working quite well for the members of the Permanent Political Class who profit handsomely. – Pages 7-8
All of that now leads to the real point of this post. Second only to “Given all that was known and provided to them in time to prepare appropriately, why didn’t Nancy and Mitch properly protect the Capitol on January 6, 2021?”, the following should be top of the list to be asked of Republican Leadership Management at every opportunity:
QUESTION: How much money flowed through the multitude of well-established and well worn “tributaries” of modern American campaign finance from Mitch McConnell’s various committees (and more specifically, his leadership PAC) to the Republican senatorial candidates for the run-off elections in Georgia in 2020? (I do ask this in all seriousness because I have never seen nor heard a single peep about it in any reporting on the subject.)
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: How much money flowed through the multitude of well-established and well worn “tributaries” of modern American campaign finance from Mitch McConnell’s various committees (and more specifically, his leadership PAC) to the Thad Cochran campaign during the Mississippi Republican senate primary run-off in 2014? (Here I resist my old rant about how far the establishment went to undercut the Republican voters of Mississippi in support of – if I recall correctly – a clearly diminished carcass of a Senator who put his wife into storage so he could stay in Washington while “renting a basement apartment” from his girlfriend who also was on his staff and travelled around with him of official business…presumably all at our expense. Like I said, I will resist going into that.)
Obviously, I could be wrong. But I would bet the comparison between the answers to those two questions would be more than a bit enlightening.
___ ___ ___
I often throw around the “completely corrupt” theme somewhat flippantly when talking about our beltway betters and the charade they perform for us while enriching themselves. Unfortunately, as definitive as that simple phrase may be, it really does understate just how much the operations of this Potemkin constitutional republic have been distorted and bastardized into one hell of a joke on us, We the People.
Note that many of the quotes used in this post are from the 2013 book referenced above so my use of it today to further my agenda may be of somewhat dated applicability. If there has been a major government reform movement since then that I have missed, please accept my apologies and disregard this entire post.Published in General
The money process is so pervasive it shows up everywhere. Now that Donald Trump leads the Republican Party his name is evoked to stimulate the giving for the campaigns. Those soliciting for the campaign funds work hard to enhance the idea that there is a Trump Cult and all good ideas are directly related to Donald Trump. Do people turn stupid as soon as they enter politics?
To answer your question – No. But those who don’t didn’t have any room to turn to begin with
I already felt disgust with the Republicans. Now I am getting close to hate. What about the way they claw at me for money. Constant texts and emails, no matter how often I unsubscribe or STOP, bombard me with terrible stories of what the Dems are doing and how I need to support this cause or that person, often to the point of threatening tone, and always leading to WINRED cash register. And the polls…Do you believe such and such? Why yes I do. Pay here or we won’t count your vote. Oh really? SCREW YOU!
It seems outdated and quaint now. Dark money is where the action is.
Exactly. Where do they pick up these people?
There is a kind of honesty in a monarchy/hereditary aristocracy that is lacking in our politician class. But it appears that’s the only difference between them.
And insider trading.
It is them against us.
Insider trading has been around a while. IPOs were all the rage in the 1990s as well.
The required disclosures aren’t worth much. I had to complete one every year in the SES and the ranges are so broad that not much is actually being disclosed. It’s a joke like everything else in Washington.
As with seemingly everything connected with politics, the rules are written to benefit those who write the rules.
Well, for perspective, we can look at 2010-style insider trading:
And that of the modern perfection of corruption in our ruling beltway:
It is just straight up theft anymore…and they don’t even care to hide it.
NOTICE: This Member post has been promoted to the Main Feed. Content may have been edited / corrected from the original without attribution by Ricochet.
(Somewhere along the line it seems we – or I – stopped getting notifications about promotions. For what it’s worth, that is/was an important feature to at least one of us.)
I realize that nobody is interested in the topic…especially as the event recedes farther into a history that will be forever dominated more by convenient talking points than actual facts…but I cannot help but be suspicious of the apparent non-reporting on this when a headline like “McConnell’s $22.5 million to off-set massive influx of out of state money for Democrats in effort to retain control the Senate wasted because Trump told his team not to play in Georgia” would have fit the desired narrative so perfectly. Am I wrong to think that someone may have thrown the game?
I assure you that I will not ask any Ricochet member or lurker to make a contribution to my campaign.
And to tell you the truth, the answer to my question doesn’t really matter. I’ve known for a long time he is not on my side. Efffff Mitch:
Anyone seriously still using the “I” word here in February 2022 is either stupid or pushing an evil agenda. And I don’t believe for a second he is stupid. I repeat, EFFFFFF MITCH.
[EDIT: H/T OffThePress.com]