Bob Dylan once sang, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears,” That obscenity has reached new heights with the 2016 election. The Koch’s have built a coalition 400 billionaires who are willing to invest in their extreme right wing agenda. Both brothers have been members of the John Birch Society, an organization their father, Fred, co-founded. The Koch’s are buying six Senatorial races.
All candidates have Political Action Committees (PACs). These are legally required when a campaign receives over $2,700. A PAC collects campaign contributions and donates them to political campaigns. A Super PAC or “independent expenditure committee” enjoys unlimited political spending and is ostensibly independent of the campaigns they support.
Ted Cruz’s campaign contributions, as of mid-January, come from PACs and individuals associated with Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, Woodforest Financial Group, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Lewis LLP. He has four Super PACs all named Keep the Promise. Robert Mercer, the billionaire in his corner, is a hedge fund manager who has invested $11 million in Cruz. Mercer’s hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, avoided billions in taxes in 2014. Senator Carl Levin said Mercer’s business avoided paying $6 billion plus in taxes between 2000 – 2013. Cruz told Bloomberg Politics. “They give favors to Wall Street and big business and that’s why I’ve been an outspoken opponent of crony capitalism, taking on leaders in both parties.” Huummm.
The bigot Trump is not as self-financed as he’s led us to believe. His additional money comes from medical services, real estate, shipping, and hedge funds. Although he says government is full of incompetents, his sixth highest contributions come from individuals and PACs associated with the Department of Defense. His Super PAC is Citizens for Restoring USA.
Hilary Clinton’s largest contributions come from individuals and PACs associated with Saban Capitol Group. Haim Saban gave $7.43 million to Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces and helps fund American Israel Education Foundation. Together with Clinton they hope to ban the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in America. Clinton gets the rest of her money primarily from Hollywood, Soros Fund Management, Alice (Walmart) Walton and two bankers; Paloma Partners LLC, a Bloomberg affiliated hedge fund, and the Sandler Foundation. In the early 80’s Sandler’s World Savings sold questionable home mortgages that led to the collapse of Wachovia. Clinton’s Super PAC is Priorities USA Action.
Bernie Sander’s donations all come from PACs or individuals associated with unions. The average contribution to his PAC, Bet on Bernie, is $40. Bernie is setting records for small ($200 or less) contributions. By mid-October 77% of his support came from small donors.
Jill Stein has invested $40,000 (18%) in her campaign through her PAC Jill Stein for President. 49% of her other funding comes from small donors and there are no billionaires backing her.
Then there’s the dark money. Due to Citizens United and Buckeye vs. Valeo
these secret funds have skyrocketed. In 2006 dark money was less than $5.2 million. In 2010 the Supreme Court lifted all limitations on independent expenditures with Citizen United. By 2012 over $300 million had been spent. By 2014 it was $174 million.
Dark money can take the form of 501.(c)4 contributions. 501.(c)4s are social welfare groups and half the money raised needs to go to social welfare. There is also 501.C6 money which eliminates the need to fund social welfare. Both can raise unlimited amounts from secret donors. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has made sure that the IRS can’t issue rulings on the secrecy of dark money.
The candidate for Wall Street is Marco Rubio. Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and his group of wealthy allies, American Opportunity Alliance, are backing him while Zionist gambling enabler Shelton Adelson is leaning his way. Rubio’s dark money comes from Americans for Prosperity (Koch) and Freedom Partners (U. S. Chamber of Commerce). The Conservative Solutions Project has invested nearly $1 million in dark money on Rubio. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 20% of TV ads have been financed by dark money coming from Conservative Solutions Project, a pro-Rubio Super PAC.
These mammoth amounts of money leave most of us without political influence. Money alone doesn’t guarantee a victory, just ask Carly Fiorina. What they can’t buy they steal. Part two will look at voter disenfranchisement.
Sources: opensecret.org, Wall Street Journal 10/16/15, RollingStone.com, TIME 2/11/09, councilforthenationalinterest.org 6/15/15, Politico 10/12/15, thedailybeast.com 4/10/15, truthdig.com 1/12/16, 1/22/16, ivn.US 11/15/13, Bloomberg View 1/3/16, huffingtonpost.com 11/9/15, the guardian 1/29/16, Upfront 2/2/16
Rebel Fagin writes for the Sonoma County Peace Press and gcml.org