Government for sale

fixing-the-signThere’s a lot wrong with the US government but nothing is quite as telling, and distressing, as the fact that it is for sale to the highest bidder.  I’ve blogged about this before and highly recommend that you read Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, a treatise on the right-wing octopus of money spread by the Koch brothers and other right-wing oligarchs to tip the scale in elections and governance.

Yesterday’s article in Fast Company, by Margaret Sessa-Hawkins and Andrew Perez, “White House Relied Upon Dark Money Lobbyist to ‘Quarterback’ Gorsuch’s Confirmation“, describes how dark money permeates not only the election campaigns but also the inner Congressional campaigns to confirm nominations and enact legislation.

Here’s their lead-in:

“A lobbyist with extensive ties to secretive nonprofit organizations served as the ‘quarterback’ for the successful nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, according to records reviewed by MapLight.

Rob Collins, a Washington lobbyist and Republican strategist, claims on his professional biography at the S-3 Group that he worked with more than a half-dozen White House offices, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate, and more than 20 advocacy organizations to ensure Gorsuch’s confirmation.

The disclosure reveals that the Trump administration is taking advantage of a loophole in U.S. campaign finance law that allows elected officials to coordinate their agendas with nonprofit organizations that aren’t required to disclose their donors to the public. All told, five major ‘dark money’ organizations spent more than $14 million boosting Gorsuch’s nomination.”

And more on Collins:

“Collins was a director of 45Committee, a dark money organization that spent more than $21 million supporting Trump’s presidential campaign, as recently as January, when he last appeared on the organization’s FCC filings. The Herndon, Virginia-based committee’s ads made it the third highest-spending dark money organization in the election cycle.

Since the election, the organization has supported Trump’s agenda, launching campaigns to help confirm cabinet picks including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The 45Committee paid for a round of ads touting Gorsuch’s qualifications that ran nationally on networks including Fox, MSNBC, and CNN.”

Or consider this: “The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a nonprofit that advocates for the appointment of conservative judges in state and national courts, spent at least $10 million on the Gorsuch confirmation. The network shares a top donor with the 45Committee, the Wellspring Committee, which has distributed more than $24 million in grants to conservative nonprofits since 2008. Wellspring has given roughly $13.9 million to JCN, and also provided $750,000 to the 45Committee—a third of the money the organization reported raising between April 2015 and March 2016.”

Sessa-Hawkins and Perez report on the following exchange during the confirmation hearing:

“During the March confirmation hearings, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, asked Gorsuch about the spending by dark money organizations to aid his confirmation, and the $3 million spent to oppose former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, whose nomination was blocked by Republicans last year.

‘I’m trying to figure out what they see in you that makes that $17 million. . . worth their spending,’ he said.

‘You’d have to ask them,’ Gorsuch replied.

‘I can’t,’ Whitehouse said. ‘I don’t know who they are.'”

Actually, now we know more, including that the NRA ponied up over a million dollars to support Gorsuch.  You might ask yourself why they would do that and what they expect from a Supreme Court Justice in return.

Take time to read the article in full; then give thought to what is needed to get the paws of the rich off our government.

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