Friday, January 10, 2014

Mothers, Let Your Children Grow Up to Be

Cowboys Political Consultants – There’s Money in Them Thar Hills

One of the under-reported stories of recent years is the fantastic growth of the industry of politics.  Political campaigns used to be run part time, mostly by volunteers and with relatively little cost.  The major campaign activity of a candidate at the state and local office was knocking on doors, meeting and greeting the voters.

This of course is no more.  The Presidential campaigns are constant with no break.  Mitt Romney started his campaign for the 2012 nomination right after the election of 2008.  Rand Paul started his campaign for the Republican nomination the day he was elected to the Senate. 

And no, campaigns are no longer volunteer events.  The reason they cost so much is (1) the cost of massive media advertising and (2) the cost of highly paid professional campaign consultants and people to run the massive media advertising.  We are talking a huge amount of money.  In Virginia’s just completed gubernatorial race the Republican candidate who lost complained of not having enough money to compete, even though directly and indirectly at least $10 million was spent on his behalf.

So this story in the New York Times about a Congressman now raking in the dough is not a surprise.

Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times
Steven C. LaTourette is a former Republican congressman from Ohio.  He could just as easily have been a Democrat - Money knows no political party boundaries.

WASHINGTON — In the year since he stepped down from Congress, Steven C. LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, has emerged as one of the top generals in the establishment Republicans’ war against the Tea Party. . . . .

But this blitz of activity has led to complaints from Mr. LaTourette’s political opponents that under the guise of defending the Republican Party from extremists, he is profiting from his continued presence in the Washington spotlight. In addition, Mr. LaTourette’s activities have raised questions about whether, in his dual roles, the former congressman violated the federal statute that prohibits lawmakers from lobbying on Capitol Hill for a year after leaving office.

Mr. LaTourette’s situation underscores a new reality as the fierce divisions in the Republican Party unleash tens of millions of dollars in corporate funds, campaign donations and advocacy efforts, creating potential windfalls for well-positioned strategists and former officeholders. It also illustrates how vague the rules are governing lobbying by former members of Congress.

And of course all this can take place under the massive loopholes in the tax laws, and it can take place because of dumb multi-millionaires who think they are supporting a cause and it can take place under the secrecy laws that allow well connected parties to buy influence in Congress.

Mr. LaTourette’s activities since his departure from Congress have involved at least four distinct legal entities that he now runs or helps run: the Main Street Partnership, the nonprofit group of which he is the president and chief executive, which raises money from corporations and lobbyists; the Main Street Advocacy fund and Defending Main Street SuperPAC, which together are seeking to amass $8 million to bolster Republican candidates facing Tea Party challengers in the 2014 races; and McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies, the lobbying office he set up, which pushes the agenda of clients as diverse as CSX, the freight railroad giant, and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a group that promotes renewable energy.

It is his role as head of the Main Street Partnership, which he took over after leaving the House, that has elicited questions.
The Main Street Partnership is an unusual enterprise for Washington. It models itself as a tax-exempt social welfare group that generates research on topics such as immigration laws, health care and the federal tax code. But it lists as its members 52 House Republicans and three Senate Republicans — all centrists — and its bills are paid by corporations, lobbyists and other donors, who each pay dues of up to $25,000 a year, raising about $1.4 million, according to the organization’s chief operating officer.

By bankrolling the group and contributing money to an affiliated political action committee that donates money to the lawmakers who are members, corporations gain the right to help draft the Main Street Partnership’s position papers and to participate in events that feature sitting members of Congress. The list of corporate members is kept secret, but the companies that donate to the group’s political action committee, including General Electric and Dow Chemical, as well as Mr. LaTourette’s law firm, offer a hint.

So yes, in the future public office might well be regarded as just stepping stone to a better job, selling influence and scamming wealthy patrons and corporations. Probably everyone in government, Republican and Democrat yearns to be Karl Rove.  Great pay, no hard work and people just throwing money at you.

You are welcome everyone for the good career advice, send your checks to . . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment