Skip to comments.By George: The Democratic party is now brought to you by super-investors
Posted on 11/11/2003 10:31:06 AM PST by GulliverSwift
Last June, the billionaire investor George Soros announced that he was cutting back the work his foundation, the Open Society Institute, did in Russia so that he could focus his attention on the United States. The change was needed, Soros told reporters in Moscow, because the political scene in America had become "quite dangerous." In the Bush administration, Soros explained, "the executive branch has come under the influence of a group of ideologues who have forgotten the first principle of an open society: that they don't have a monopoly on truth."
Soros, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Hungary, said President Bush had "abused" the September 11 terrorist attacks as a pretext to expand his own power and to run roughshod over other nations. Soros has included these concerns in a book, The Bubble of American Supremacy, due out next January, which will attack the so-called arrogance of the president's policies.
But Soros plans to do much more than write. Recently, he pledged $10 million to a new Democratic group devoted to defeating Bush in 2004. Soros's gift will be the largest single political donation from an individual in history, surpassing the $7 million check that film producer Haim Saban gave the Democratic party in 2002. "I've come to the conclusion that one can do a lot more about the issues I care about by changing the government than by pushing the issues," Soros told Fortune magazine recently.
It's not clear whether Soros can, in fact, change the government, but his $10 million pledge has instantly made him one of the most important men in the Democratic party. His money is going to a new group called America Coming Together (ACT), one of several organizations that have sprung up in the aftermath of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law. The law made it illegal for contributors like Soros to give $10 million to the Democratic party, so the founders of America Coming Together created what is, in effect, a substitute party, which can still legally accept such large contributions. Such groups are often referred to as 527's, after the section of the tax code that allows them to operate.
ACT was put together by the main interest groups that make up the Democratic constituency. It was founded by Ellen Malcolm, who is the president of Emily's List; Steve Rosenthal, the former political director of the AFL-CIO; Andrew Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union; Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club; and Cecile Richards, head of America Votes, a group similar to ACT that is made up of representatives of environmental, civil-rights, pro-abortion, and labor groups. Together, they represent pretty much everyone in the Democratic party.
Funded by Soros and others, ACT will assume some of the tasks that the party performed before reform. While it will not run ad campaigns or other media efforts, ACT will concentrate its resources on intensive get-out-the-vote efforts, now often referred to as "voter contact." When ACT announced its formation in August, its officials said it would focus on 17 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Each state was tightly contested in the 2000 election and promises to be close again next year.
One other thing is notable about Americans Coming Together: There is no organization comparable to it on the right. A recent study by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity found that so-called 527 groups actually got started before campaign-finance reform and played a significant role in the 2002 elections, the last before McCain-Feingold took effect. The center found that, in the 2002 cycle, Democratic-affiliated 527's spent $185 million in soft money -- more than twice the $82 million spent by Republican-affiliated groups.
The center found that all of the top five soft-money spenders during its study period, which began in August 2000 and ended this summer, were affiliated with the Democratic party. First was the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which spent $37,990,064. Others included Emily's List and the Sierra Club. In fact, nine of the top ten organizations are Democratic, the only exception being the Bush-Cheney 2000 committee, which spent $13,820,764 during that election. For the top 527 groups, the ratio of Democratic to Republican spending during the study period was a bit more than 12 to 1.
The center also found that Democrats dominated the individual-contributions category. The biggest 527 contributor of all was actress Jane Fonda, who gave $12,918,450 to an organization called Pro-Choice Vote. The second-biggest soft-money donor, Alida Messinger, a Rockefeller heir, gave $2,413,000, most of it to the League of Conservation Voters. Beyond Messinger, nine of the top ten individual soft-money donors gave to Democratic causes. The only exception was retired pharmaceutical executive Daniel Searle, who gave $1,050,000 to the conservative Club for Growth (he placed ninth on the list). For the top ten individual donors, the ratio of Democratic to Republican contributions during the study period was 25 to 1.
And that was before George Soros and America Coming Together appeared on the scene. Their presence, and that of other Democrat-supporting groups, promises to make the Democrat-Republican disparity even more pronounced in 2004.
One might expect that such a massive Democratic soft-money campaign would ring alarm bells among Republicans, but it appears to have raised few concerns outside the circle of GOP insiders who work on such issues every day. In fact, a sort of false confidence appears to have taken hold in some parts of the GOP because of the success both the party and President Bush have had in raising hard money -- the contributions from individuals, limited to $2,000, that are allowed under McCain-Feingold.
According to FEC records, the three big Republican-party committees -- the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- have collected a total of $133,861,490 in limited, hard-money contributions so far in the 2004 election cycle. In comparison, the three analogous Democratic committees have collected a total of $45,662,730.
In the presidential race, Bush raised $49,187,571 in the third quarter of this year, all of it in limited, hard-money contributions, compared with Democratic challenger Howard Dean's $14,800,282, John Kerry's $3,927,059, and Richard Gephardt's $3,724,842.
When those numbers alone are considered, Republicans appear to be winning the money race. But reports of the GOP's substantial lead in hard-money contributions have largely ignored the Democrats' growing lead in soft-money donations to 527 groups. In addition to America Coming Together, the group America Votes promises to raise even more soft money for Democratic causes, and dozens of other groups will also raise significant amounts, including a so-far-unnamed organization being put together by former Clinton operative Harold Ickes.
It should be said that Republican-affiliated groups accept soft money, too. It's just that they are doing far less of it. In the new world of super contributions designed to skirt the requirements of McCain-Feingold, Democrats are the clear winners.
Of course, it was mostly Democrats who said they wanted to remove the allegedly corrupting influence of big contributions in politics. Now, however, the passage of McCain-Feingold has created an irony: By and large, Republicans are working within the spirit of a law they opposed -- that is, relying on limited hard-money contributions from individuals -- while Democrats are violating the spirit of a law they supported -- that is, relying on the kind of unlimited soft-money contributions they roundly condemned during the reform debate.
Back in March 2002, as the Senate prepared to pass McCain-Feingold, Kentucky Republican senator Mitch McConnell, the bill's most energetic opponent, rose to make a final summing-up. "Today is a sad day for our Constitution, for our democracy, and for our political parties," McConnell said. "We are all now complicit in a dramatic transfer of power from challenger-friendly, citizen-action groups known as political parties to outside special-interest groups [and] wealthy individuals."
What McConnell predicted has come to pass with the emergence of groups like America Coming Together. In the post-McCain-Feingold, Democratic-dominated world of 527's, the small donor has become less important, and mega-donors like George Soros have become even more important -- precisely the opposite of what reformers said they wanted.
Remember the Democrats who spoke so eloquently about the need to eliminate donations -- like Soros's $10 million -- from the political system? Never mind.
This is another great example of the fact that DEMOCRATS are the party of the uber-rich. DEMOCRATS are not the party of the little guy, they're the party of drug addicts, bums, and anti-Semite rich people.
What about all the rich Jews who support the Dems? Most of them do, as reported in Jewish World Review and other publications after the last election. It's always been the case. Perhaps the obvious and growing anti-Semitism of Rat bigwigs will turn some of those votes and dollars in our direction.
It's one of the big lies of the left. But this is no surprise considering that leftist politics produce the very dynamic that exists in their fund-raising: A poor, uneducated populace overseen by corrupt overlords who do deals in secret to benefit themselves. Kind of like the Ba'ath Socialist Party. No wonder the libs didn't want to attack him. He was their brother in arms.
I would think that it would next-to-impossible for all these special interest groups to coordinate their efforts.
DEMOCRAT Motto: Do as we say, not as we do.
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