Yesterday, I spoke with Wisconsin Senate candidate Gillian Battino about the shocking report about the multimillionaires trying to buy the Democratic Senate nomination for the seat held by Republican multimillionaire Ron Johnson. "The reality is that until we reform campaign finance," said Battino, "we condone or even embrace limiting our governing body to predominately wealthy people. I want to change that. Money is not merit. How an elected official avoids conflicts of interests and bias with their 600 investments is beyond my imagination. I believe voters value the work ethic of their representatives not the size of their portfolio and that’s what my campaign will prove."
Her perspective is the polar opposite of that of Chuck Schumer and the DSCC, which exclusively looks for wealthy people and people with wealthy networks. That makes it tough for them in Wisconsin because there are two extremely wealthy characters trying to buy the nomination-- two status quo establishment Dems, Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlewski, both opponents of Medicare-for-All.
The question, of course is whether or not Democrats-- the party that is supposed to, but barely is any longer, be a vehicle for the legitimate aspirations of the working class-- is ready to learn the lessons of recent failures to run real progressive candidates that resonate with voters? Let's start with Alex Lasry, the son of billionaire Marc Lasry who owns a hedge fund that once upon a time hired Chelsea Clinton, has heavy investments in fracking, said Democratic control of the Senate would be bad for investors due to "higher taxes" and "more regulations," and was among the vulture predators seeking to profit off Puerto Rico’s fiscal woes. He lives down the street from me-- in L.A., not Wisconsin. Papa Lasry bought the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014 and gave his then 27-year old son Alex a big ownership stake and a job helping to manage the team. Young Alex donates money to Democrats, but mostly very conservative ones like Blue Dog Max Rose, as well as Mark Kelly, Seth Moulton, and Theresa Greenfield. Papa has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the DNC, the DSCC and to the same kinds of conservative Dems that Alex donates to.
This week, WiscPolitics.com took a look at Alex's financial disclosure form and reported that he's personally worth between at least $61.4 million and more than $80 million, over $50 million of which is the nice ownership stake daddy gave him in the Milwaukee Bucks, which is in a trust. The campaign says NBA ownership rules mean Lasry can't use his stake in the team to help finance his campaign. He's also a partner in a series of investments worth between $82.2 million and $192.1 million. So far Lasry's self-funding efforts have only been $50,000 but he's promised Schumer that "he's prepared to invest in his own campaign [and that] he's going to ask others to invest in it." That would be his daddy and siblings and daddy's billionaire friends.
WiscPolitics.com also looked at Goldlewski's disclosure forms. and reported that she "and her husband have assets worth between $24.7 million and $60.6 million... Her filing also includes four investments that are described as worth more than $1 million and held independently by her spouse, but doesn't provide additional details. One is a solar plant in England, while another is the farmland next to the facility. The other two are corporate securities on the London stock exchange." Max Duckworth, her husband (who is also her business partner) is a notorious financial criminal who has been banned from energy trading after being caught in several illegal financial shenanigans from which he shielded Sarah, but which will be used against her by the GOP if she gets the nomination. He paid a $245 million fine for market manipulation in the largest settlement in energy trading history. A former defense department contractor/DC consultant for sleaze ball lobbying firm Booz Allen Hamilton, she's put $150,000 of her own money into the campaign so far, but is expected to put much more in as the contest for the Democratic nomination heats up.
Former U.S. Senate candidate, state Senator Chris Larson, just told me a few moments ago that "The reason there isn't urgency for lawmakers to change what is wrong in America is because the super-wealthy benefit from that system and, for now, a super-majority of congress is super-wealthy. They have no incentive to guarantee health care for all Americans through Medicare for All, to divest from fossil fuel corporations in favor of a Green New Deal, or to raise the minimum wage so it isn't a starvation wage. America would do better to have Senators and Representatives with more diverse experiences in life than being born wealthy or marrying into wealth." Amen to that!