“Delicious irony” is how Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described the current state of affairs within the Republican Party. GOP leaders were ecstatic in 2010, when The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United vs The Federal Election Commission (FEC). Now having gotten what they wished for, some might be thinking that they should have wished for something else.
Citizens United, as they describe themselves on their website are:
an organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control. Through a combination of education, advocacy, and grass roots organization, Citizens United seeks to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.
Citizens United had challenged provisions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which has come be known as the Mcain-Feingold Act. Its sponsors were Republican Senator John McCain and former Democratic Senator, Russell Feingold. The effect of the ruling is that corporations and labor unions are no longer prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to fund advertisements in congressional or presidential elections. On January 22, 2010 the Washington Post wrote
The decision shakes the foundation of corporate limitations on federal and state elections that stretch back a century, and prompted sharp partisan reaction. Republican leaders, still celebrating Tuesday’s Senate upset in Massachusetts, cheered the ruling as a victory for free speech and predicted a surge in corporate support forGOP candidates in November’s midterm elections.
President Obama sharply criticized the ruling, however, calling it “a green light to a new stampede of special interest money,” and vowed to “develop a forceful response” with congressional leaders from both parties. The court’s decision was handed down on the same morning that Obama riled Wall Street by proposing tough new restrictions on the nation’s largest banks.
In a subsequent ruling on March 26, 2010, a three-judge U.S. District Court panel in Washington, ruled in favor of SpeechNow.org vs. FEC. That decision opened the floodgates for wealthy individuals to contribute enormous sums of money to their favorite SuperPacs. Wheras Citizens United made it easier for SuperPacs to spend money, Speechnow.org made it easier for them to collect money. Or to put it another way, it made it much easier for wealthy individuals to donate money.
Fast forward from Washington, DC, March 2010; to South Carolina, January 2012. Jon Huntsman Jr. marches on, parlaying his 3rd place (16.9%) performance in New Hampshire, into a quixotic attempt to siphon votes away from front runner Mitt Romney. There are reports that Huntsman is struggling to raise funds. Of course his campaign would have collapsed a long time ago, were it not for the backing it has received from Jon Huntsman Sr. The Wall Street Journal wrote today
One important supporter is Mr. Huntsman’s father, Jon Huntsman Sr., chairman of chemical giant Huntsman Corp. and a backer of Our Destiny PAC, a “Super PAC” boosting the Huntsman candidacy. The political action committee has made $2.4 million in expenditures so far, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group tracking such spending.
Huntsman Sr.’s Huntsman Container Corp. is credited with creating
the Big Mac “clamshell” container. Huntsman Sr.has also (according to Forbes) donated $1.2 billion to charity, over the course of his lifetime. There had been reports about a Huntsman family “drama” over whether Huntsman Sr. would tap into his vast resources to provide the kind of funding that Jr. will need if he going to mount a serious challenge, this year. (2016 anybody?)
Huntsman Sr. was one of the three billionaires that Polico.com was referring to in a piece that ran this week titled, “3 Billionaires Who’ll Drag Out The Race”.
Billionaire number two is Foster Friess. Politico reports that
Friess, a Wyoming mutual fund master, acknowledged to POLITICO that he is a major financial backer of a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum called the Red, White and Blue Fund and is preparing to give more, but declined to say how much he has given or plans to give.
While nobody is denying that Friess is extremely wealthy, his name is nowhere to be found on the Forbes List of Billionaires.
On the other hand, Newt Gingrich’s sugar daddy, sorry; political benefactor, Sheldon Adelson; is number 8 on The Forbes 400. He is only $.5 billion “poorer” than George Soros, and he’s $.6 billion richer than Jim Walton (Walmart).
On January 7, The Wahsington Post reported
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has given $5 million to an independent committee supporting GOP presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich, the first of what is expected to be many millions the Las Vegas billionaire plans to spend this election year.
The check from Adelson is the latest in an avalanche of campaign cash flooding the presidential season to independent groups known as Super PACs The check was cut on Friday to Winning Our Future, a group run by former Gingrich associates, according to two people close to the donor.
Thanks to Adelson’s generosity, South Carolinians are being treated to a barrage of anti Romney campaign ads that attempt to portray Romney and Bain Capital as corporate raiders. Winning our Future has also produced a 28-minute film about Romney called “King of Bain”.
Today The Washington Post had this to say about “King of Bain”
The 29-minute video “King of Bain” is such an over-the-top assault on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney that it is hard to know where to begin. It uses evocative footage from distraught middle-class Americans who allege that Romney’s deal-making is responsible for their woes. It mixes images of closed factories and shuttered shops with video clips of Romney making him look foolish, vain or greedy. And it has a sneering voice-over that seeks to push every anti-Wall Street button possible.
On the Post’s “The Fact Checker” Page, “King of Bain” was awarded the not-so-coveted “4 Pinnochios” rating. Click here to read why “The Fact Checker” Gave “King of Bain” 4 Pinnochios
Today Gingrich said, “I am calling for the Winning Our Future super PAC supporting me to either edit its ‘King of Bain’ advertisement and movie to remove its inaccuracies, or to pull it off the air and off the Internet entirely.”
The Wall Street Journal also reported that
Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Romney should also ask super PACs backing him to remove any ads that contain inaccuracies. Mr. Romney has said that he isn’t responsible for the ads of pro-Romney super PACs, which by law can’t coordinate with the candidate.
Last night Stephen Colbert spoke with former FEC Chairman, Trevor Potter. Potter told Colbert “you cannot be a candidate and run a SuperPac. That would be coordinating with yourself.” Then Colbert brought Jon Stewart. Colbert asked Stewart if he would take over the Colbert SuperPac. Stewart expressed concern because as he put it “You and I are business” partner. Potter put their minds at rest when he explained that “being business partners does not count as co-ordination, legally.” Colbert and Stewart then signed the one page document that is required to transfer control of the SuperPac, from one person to anohter. Then Stewart noted that he was busy and he asked Potter if he could hire Colbert’s former SuperPac employees to run the now “Stewart controlled SuperPac. Answer – “Yes.”…As long as they have no knowledge of Stephen’s plans.” Colbert concluded by announcing that he was running for the Presidency of “The United States of South Carolina…God Bless Citizens United!” Click here to watch Stephen Colbert talk about non-coordination of his SuperPac