Politico: “Presidential candidates typically take a timeout from the paid-speech circuit to avoid potential conflicts of interest and thorny restrictions on mixing campaign and personal business. But that hasn’t stopped Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina or Mike Huckabee, who chose to fulfill commitments to the nonprofits and business groups that signed them up for five-figure fees before they jumped into the race.”
Los Angeles Times: “Before he entered the race, … Carson signed on to … American Legacy PAC, an organization with ties to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. With Carson as the face of its Save Our Healthcare campaign, American Legacy raised close to $6 million in 2014 – and spent nearly all of it paying the consultants and firms that raised the money. Just 2% was donated to Republican candidates and committees.”
A Washington Post investigation reveals how Bill and Hillary Clinton have methodically cultivated donors over 40 years, from Little Rock to Washington and then across the globe. The grand total raised for all of their political campaigns and their family’s charitable foundation reaches at least $3 billion.
“The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life,” Politico reports.
“The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as ‘competitive intelligence’ that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network.”
Matt Taibbi: “When we reporters are introduced to a politician, the first thing we ask ourselves is if he or she is acceptable to the political establishment. We don’t admit that we ask this as a prerequisite, but we do. Anyone who’s survived without felony conviction a few terms as a senator, governor or congressperson, has an expensive enough haircut, and has never once said anything interesting will likely be judged a potentially ‘serious’ candidate.”
“If you’re wondering why no Mozarts or Einsteins ever end up running for president in America, but an endless succession of blockheads like Rick Perry are sold to us on the cover of Time magazine as contenders, it’s because of this absurd prerequisite.”
“Ultimately, what we’re looking for is someone who’s enough of a morally flexible gasbag to get over with the money people, and then also charming enough on some politically irrelevant level to attract voters.”
Carly Fiorina “may be running for president, but she is also available for speaking engagements. On a limited basis, that is, according to an email sent by the speaking firm that represents the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive,” Politico reports.
Wall Street Journal: “It is unusual for competitive political candidates to give paid speeches while on the campaign trail, though some do mix commercial business with stumping for office.”
New York Times: “The calls to oust Republican leaders in Congress did not come from Democrats. They came from conservative websites and bloggers who have helped stoke a grass-roots rebellion to make Congress more conservative, a fevered continuation of the six-year Tea Party movement.”
“But these politically charged appeals to conservatives around the country were often accompanied by a solicitation for money, and the ultimate beneficiaries, records suggest, are the consultants who created the campaigns rather than the causes they are promoting. It is a practice that has accelerated with the explosion of social media.”
Earlier this year, “Trump for President, LLC” trademarked “Trumpocrat” and “Trumpublican,” the Washington Post reports.
The possible uses included “salt and pepper shakers; posters; shirts; ties; cufflinks; colognes; chocolate; nameplates; key rings; eye wear; playing cards; surfboards; editions of automobiles” and more.
The Washington Post reports Chelsea Clinton was paid $65,000 for a speech at the University of Missouri after officials balked at her month’s $275,000 fee.
“More than 500 pages of e-mails, contracts and other internal documents obtained by The Washington Post from the university under Missouri public record laws detail the school’s long courtship of the Clintons. They also show the meticulous efforts by Chelsea Clinton’s image-makers to exert tight control over the visit, ranging from close editing of marketing materials and the introductory remarks of a high school student to limits on the amount of time she spent on campus.”
NBC News: “Page after page of Confederate-themed goods vanished from Walmart’s website as the retail giant said Monday that it was pulling the merchandise in the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina, church shootings.”
Michele Bachmann (R) “hasn’t run for office in nearly three years, but the former Minnesota congresswoman is still raising cash and spending lavishly, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
“It was May 2013 when Bachmann launched a predawn YouTube video in which she declared she would not seek a fifth congressional term. But since then, the provocative Tea Party conservative has continued to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, mainly by selling off her donor lists to other organizations. Federal records show that in the last three months of 2014, Bachmann raised $170,000 from selling e-mail lists.”
The Center for Public Integrity looks at the “powerful electoral-industrial complex” funded by moneyed interests that belies the quaint notion of “citizen democracy” that ballot measures are assumed to represent.
“Active in the 26 states that have citizen-initiated ballot measures, the network of pollsters, direct mail specialists, lawyers, consultants, signature gatherers and voting data whizzes were paid at least $400 million for 85 statewide measures across the country in 2014… In presidential election years, state and local measures are a billion-dollar industry.”
After a failed political comeback in 2013, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) “has found himself unexpectedly embracing a role he has largely sought to avoid all his life: assuming stewardship of Spitzer Enterprises, the family real estate business,” the New York Times reports.
Said Spitzer: “Politics is in my rearview mirror. This is exciting.”
“In customary fashion, Mr. Spitzer — who once, as governor, famously threatened to roll over a state lawmaker — has tackled his new career much like a steamroller, in overdrive. He signed a contract to buy nearly three acres on the Brooklyn waterfront last August, closed on the deal in February and got his building permits on June 8.”
“After a relatively slow start to his career as a consultant and lobbyist, J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, became very busy in 2010…. He also made an unusual request to one of his business associates: to find a financial adviser who could come up with a plan for an annuity that would generate a substantial cash payout each year,” the New York Times reports.
“The request came just a few weeks before Mr. Hastert, according to charges in a federal indictment, made his first payment to a man known as ‘Individual A’ in what was to be a total of $3.5 million.”
“Ben Carson and his wife, Candy, earned between $8.9 million and $27 million in a recent 16-month period, largely fueled by book royalties, speaking engagements and Mr. Carson’s service on the board of directors for two big companies. The figures were included in Mr. Carson’s personal financial disclosure,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Critics of Hillary Rodham Clinton have been deriding the steep fees that she commands on the corporate speaking circuit, and even though the former secretary of state speaks publicly for free these days, the big companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to hear her talk say she was worth the money,” the New York Times reports.
Los Angeles Times: “Once a dark art that candidates were reluctant to acknowledge even the existence of, political opposition research has lately turned into a garish, multimillion-dollar enterprise complete with logos, marketing strategies and indiscriminate, real-time streaming of the work product onto social media.”
“Many political traditions are being disrupted by the unrestricted cash that today’s lax campaign-finance enforcement allows. But perhaps none more than the time-honored tradition of rifling through an opponent’s background. Never before have there been so many hit jobs peddled to the media, to gadflies, to swing voters – to anyone who might notice – so openly and swiftly.”
Gary Hart: “Our Founders created a republic and, being keen students of the history of republics beginning with Athens, they knew that placing special and narrow interests ahead of the common good and the commonwealth was the corruption that destroyed republics. They feared this kind of corruption as the greatest danger to America’s success and survival.”
“By this standard, today’s American Republic is massively corrupt. Every interest group in our nation has staff lobbyists and hires lobbying firms. Thousands of lobbying firms now penetrate the halls of Congress as well as all State capitols and city halls. Those same lobbying firms collect funds for election and re-election campaigns. In exchange, they have access to legislatures and administrations, those who write the laws and make the regulations.”
“If the national presidency were to pass back and forth between two or three families in any Latin American nation we would call it an oligarchy.”