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Practicing What We Preach... When It Comes To Political Sewer Money


Leonard Leo (fascist) & Sam Bankman-Fried (conservative Democrat)-- both back easily corrupted, malleable candidates. You think one is better?

The political world was abuzz today with talk of the biggest single sewer money contribution in history. Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing (Tripp Lite) mogul, gave $1.6 billion to Marble Freedom Trust, a nefarious park money entity headed by neo-fascist activist Leonard Leo. The NY Times reported this morning that this is sure to cement “Leo’s status as a kingmaker in conservative big money politics, It could also give conservatives an advantage in a type of difficult-to-trace spending that shapes elections and political fights.”


For perspective, the $1.6 billion that the Marble trust reaped from the sale [of Tripp Lite] is slightly more than the total of $1.5 billion spent in 2020 by 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with Democrats… That spending, which Democrats embraced to aid the campaigns of Biden and his allies in Congress, dwarfed the roughly $900 million spent by a comparable sample of 15 of the most politically active groups aligned with the Republican Party.

Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. The Democratic establishment may whine about big money in politics, but that’s all show. Corrupt party leaders like Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) have absolutely no interest whatsoever in changing the system that has catapulted them to the top of the heap. Ken Vogel and Shane Goldmacher reported that “For much of the last decade, the Democrats complained— with a mix of indignation, frustration and envy— that Republicans and their allies were spending hundreds of millions of difficult-to-trace dollars to influence politics. ‘Dark money’ became a dirty word, as the left warned of the threat of corruption posed by corporations and billionaires that were spending unlimited sums through loosely regulated nonprofits, which did not disclose their donors’ identities. Then came the 2020 election… the Democratic Party embraced dark money with fresh zeal.”


The findings reveal the growth and ascendancy of a shadow political infrastructure that is reshaping American politics, as mega donors to the nonprofits take advantage of loose disclosure laws to make multimillion-dollar outlays in total secrecy. Some good-government activists worry that the exploding role of undisclosed cash threatens to accelerate the erosion of trust in the country’s political system.
Democrats’ newfound success in harassing this funding also exposes the stark tension between their efforts to win elections and their commitment to curtail secretive political spending by the superrich.
A single, cryptically named entity that has served as a clearinghouse of undisclosed cash for the left, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, received mystery donations as large as $50 million and disseminated grants to more than 200 groups, while spending a total of $410 million in 2020— more than the DNC itself.
But nonprofits do not abide by the same transparency rules or donation limits as parties or campaigns— though they can underwrite many similar activities: advertising, polling, research, voter registration and mobilization and legal fights over voting rules.
The scale of secret spending is such that, even as small donors have become a potent force in politics, undisclosed money dwarfed the 2020 campaign fund-raising of President Biden (who raised a record $1 billion) and Trump (who raised more than $810 million).
…Rob Stein, a longtime Democratic strategist and adviser to some of the party’s biggest donors… worries that the increasing embrace of secret-money vehicles will usher in “an ominous new dark-money arms race” and further undermine fraying public trust in government and elections.
There is no legal definition of “dark money,” but it generally has been understood to mean funds spent to influence politics by nonprofits that do not disclose their donors. These groups are usually incorporated under the tax code as social-welfare and advocacy groups or business leagues. Legally, these groups are allowed to spend money on partisan politics, but it is not supposed to be their primary purpose.
…Back in 2005, Stein helped start the Democracy Alliance, which would grow into an influential club of some of the wealthiest donors on the left. Warning of the superiority of conservative infrastructure, he urged affluent liberals to create counterweights. They responded, seeding institutions like the turnout group America Votes, the Media Matters watchdog group and the Center for American Progress think tank.
But Democrats’ concerns about losing the big-money race spiked again after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. It expanded the kinds of permissible political spending by nonprofits and unleashed a torrent of dark money into elections, particularly on the right, where the industrialists Charles and David Koch oversaw a political operation that came to outstrip the Republican Party financially.
Democrats publicly assailed the Koch operation as epitomizing a corrupting dark-money takeover of American politics. Privately, they plotted ways to compete.
…Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, who has sponsored legislation to crack down on secret spending, said the proliferation of dark money has unleashed a “tsunami of slime” that “disserves democracy.”

That reminded me to call Matt Brown, the progressive in the Rhode Island gubernatorial race, who is running against one of the most corrupted batch of conservative Democrats anywhere in the country, all of whom are funded by special interest sewer money. “It’s past time we end the corrupting influence of corporate dark money in our politics,” Matt told me this morning. “This secret, special-interest money is eroding our democracy and stalling action on urgent issues like the climate crisis. That’s why in our race for governor and lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, Cynthia Mendes and I are not taking a dime from corporate PACs or the fossil fuel industry.” Blue America has endorsed Matt and if you'd like to contribute, his primary is September 13, the last in the nation.



…Biden last year urged the Senate to advance legislation to rein in dark money, but it was part of a package that was blocked in January.
The legislation would have closed a loophole that allows nonprofits to transfer secret money into super PACs.
In 2020, the two main super PACs devoted to helping Biden’s campaign received $37.5 million in dark money. The main super PAC devoted to Trump received $20.3 million from a linked nonprofit.
A Biden-backing nonprofit, Future Forward USA Action, with ties to Silicon Valley billionaires, raised $150 million in 2020 and transferred more than $60 million to an affiliated super PAC, while directly spending nearly $25 million on TV ads, almost $2.6 million on polling and analytics and $639,000 on focus groups, federal records show.
That group’s top data scientist, David Shor, has emerged as a leading Democratic strategist. “I try to elect Democrats,” his Twitter bio reads. Tax records show that he worked 35 hours a week in 2020 for the nonprofit, whose primary purpose is not supposed to be partisan. Future Forward said it advocated for candidates that supported its agenda “consistent with normal nonprofit organizations like ours.”
…While the Kochs pioneered the use of centralized hubs to disseminate dark money to a broader network, the left has in some ways improved on the tactic— reducing redundancy, increasing synergy, and making it even harder to trace spending back to donors.

As we’ve seen all during midterm primary season, big money— much of it from Republican and conservative billionaires interfering in blue districts— has flooded into primaries to defeat progressives and elect corrupt conservatives. The three worst villains are AIPAC, crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried and Mark Mellman, who runs the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI). All three are loosely-- probably illegally-- coordinating with Wall Street puppet and would-be Democratic House leader, Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY).


The races they were decisive in included:

  • Replacing Andy Levin with Haley Stevens (MI)

  • Replacing Marie Newman with Sean Casten (IL)

  • Defeating Nina Turner for Shontel Brown (OH)

  • Defeating Donna Edwards for Glenn Ivey (MD)

  • Defeating Daniel Lee for Sydney Kamlager (CA)

  • Defeating Jessica Cisneros for Henry Cuellar (TX)

  • Defeating Amy Vilela for Dina Titus (NV)

  • Defeating Cristina Garcia for Robert Garcia (CA)

  • Defeating Erica Smith for Don Davis (NC)

  • Defeating Nida Allam for Valerie Foushee (NC)

  • Defeating Attica Scott for Morgan McGarvey (KY)

That's 11 shitty members of the next Congress instead of 11 progressives who could have been, for example, fighting for Medicare-for-All, fighting for the Green New Deal and fighting to increase the minimum wage. And these are the current targeted races-- which will all be decided tomorrow-- where sewer money is gushing right now to help puppet candidates:

  • NY-03, where they are spending to elect Josh Lafazan and defeat progressive Melanie D’Arrigo on Long Island

  • NY-22, where they are spending to elect Fran Conole and defeat progressive Sarah Klee Hood in Central New York

  • NY-04, where they are spending to elect Laura Gillen on Long Island

  • NY-17, where they are spending to elect Sean Patrick Maloney and defeat progressive Alessandra Biaggi in the Hudson Valley

  • FL-10, where they are spending to elect Maxwell Frost and defeat progressive Alan Grayson in Orlando



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