Archive for political donations

Gov. "Ultrasound" McDonnell probed, media mounts soap opera defense for him

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bob mcdonnell trans vag ultrasound probe

Media coverage of the Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell corruption case could take a cue from the following excerpt from USA Today, and an even bigger one from The Rachel Maddow Show below:

RICHMOND, Va. — The key prosecution witness in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, took the stand Wednesday, saying there was no personal relationship between he and the couple.

Jonnie Williams, the wealthy businessman and former chief executive of Star Scientific, said he did not give the two initial checks to the McDonnell family because he thought he and the McDonnells were friends.

"This was a business relationship," he said about why he helped the McDonnell family. "I needed his help."

That's news. Unfortunately, however, that has not been the focus of the so-called "news" media when it comes to this story. Rachel Maddow zeroed right in on the How Do You Solve a Problem Like Media Coverage? issue in the following segment. We owe her our gratitude:

Maddow on "the salaciousness of the headlines":

The headlines are all like this... "Trial reveals governor's wife had 'crush' on CEO"...

The indictment-- the allegations from prosecutors-- those have been out there for months now. But now that we're having the trial... what has stolen the show about the defense is this designed-for-headlines assertion from the defense, that the McDonnell's marriage was broken, Maureen McDonnell had a "childlike crush" on this businessman who the McDonnells are accused of helping in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts...

But the defense strategy in the corruption trial of Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife is apparently going to be [about their marriage]... This is how they're going to try to keep the governor and his wife out of jail.

Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell stand accused of accepting over $160,000 in gifts and cash from this wealthy CEO [Johnnie Williams] in exchange for providing official help from the state for the CEO's company. That's called corruption, right? "Give me something of personal value to me, and in exchange, I'll give you a little something from the government, the government in which I am an official." ...

So that strategy, the "she took everything" defense... is undercut by the fact that Bob McDonnell himself did things himself like ask this guy for a $70,000 loan for his real estate business... But that is their main defense strategy, the claim is basically that "she did it all, she's not a public official, so there's no public corruption. And, there couldn't be a... corrupt conspiracy between the two of them, because there was no "two of them."... It was just her "lovesick stupidity. He's actually kind of the victim here."... That's their legal strategy...

What does not make sense is the media helping them with it... It is being covered purely in a tabloid way... Purely through catty, sexist gossip [her shopping, her "crush"]... That framing is not only sexist and gross, it ignores the fact that Bob McDonnell himself was doing things like setting up meetings for this wealthy donor with top state health officials... They claim they have the evidence to prove it.

But if the Bob McDonnell defense is gonna be to blame it all on the "lovesick, emotionally erratic, Louis Vuitton-loving wife, they are so far doing a masterful job of injecting that storyline into the press and getting the press to mount their defense for them.

The press is bending over backwards to help the McDonnell legal defense... Attention news media! This is an overt strategy and you are helping one side of this legal case by advancing the strategic storyline for them, because you can't resist a tabloid soap opera tale.

You're being played! You're being played... by covering this as a tabloid story about a marriage, and not a crime blotter story about a corrupt governor.

bob mcdonnell probe johnnie williams

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GOP's early 2016 fundraising vacuum: Donors are laying low

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money golden rule fundraising The fundraising efforts by Republicans for the 2016 elections are not going well. At least not yet. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, GOP donors say "they are surprised that their phones haven't been ringing." But the party claims its focus is on winning the Senate, so no worries. They're good. All is well. Never mind their lousy candidates and abysmal platform. Wait, they have a platform? Coulda fooled me. No wonder their fundraising is hitting a snag.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is holding off on a decision whether to run, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pinned down by investigations into his administration, delaying any moves to lock down donors. Sen. Rand Paul is among the most organized of the would-be candidates but lacks natural ties to establishment donors. The rest of the candidates are still viewed as the second string, making their future organizing efforts more important but more difficult as well. That stands in stark contrast to the last two cycles, when Romney's campaign was already locking down state and regional finance organizations and lining up early donations. [...]

In 2016, Republican candidates' need to create a financial juggernaut may be even more important because of the potential fundraising machine that would be in the hands of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, were she to decide to run.

According to the ex-Romney finance chairman, 2016 candidates are concentrating more on midterm election nominees, helping them raise money for their races. But then, he goes on to say that he doesn't see "their own organizations developing."

What a cryin' shame.

Here's the part that managed to get my sleepy eyes to fully open as I read my morning paper: "But donors here said in interviews that there was no stampede in [Jeb Bush's] direction." Oh those wacky zany Bushes and their genetic repellant disorders.

Meanwhile, Gov. Chris "Who Moi?" Christie is reassuring everyone who nervously asks that no new information would come out in his little Bridgegate scandal. Fugetaboutit. He's good. All is well. No worries, laughed he. "You'll get over" your jitters. "It will be fine." It will? Because it sure isn't fine now, Gov. "Heartbroken." nice try no cigar

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TX GOP Rep. Steve Stockman investigated over campaign donations, cover-up

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steve stockman twitter bio

If a congressional staff member donates to their boss, it's a no-no. If two congressional staff members donated to their boss, Republican Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, then wouldn't that be a no-no-no-no?

magic 8 ball yes

Via The New York Times:

The House Ethics Committee is investigating accusations that a Republican lawmaker from Texas — who lost a recent bid for a United States Senate seat — took illegal contributions from two of his staff members and may have made false statements in an effort to cover it up. [...]

The staff members — Jason Posey, the director of special projects, and Thomas Dodd, a special assistant — admitted to contributing $7,500 each to Mr. Stockman’s campaign in February 2013, although they were first reported as having been made by Mr. Dodd’s mother and Mr. Posey’s father.

Stockman fired the two staff  members and returned the contributions. Stockman's lawyer said there was not so much as "a breath of unethical action by Congressman Stockman." Pshyeah. What's he going to say, "Hey! My client's guilty as sin! You must punish him now!"?

Follow the link for more, including how, since he's not running for re-election, it's doubtful that the investigation will go very far. That's because the Ethics Committee "will lose its jurisdiction in the case once he leaves office."

Business as usual.

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Need a miracle? Why, here's one now! cc: Billionaire Tom Steyer's super PAC

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solar freakin' roadways climate change miracle

Earlier, our own lwdgrfx posted a link to the above video about a new miracle, a possible global solution to help combat climate change, a brilliant idea, and-- wait for it-- a feasible one. As is stated at the link, "everything about this is good. You should be throwing your money at this project."

To put it mildly:

THIS IS A MUST-WATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please note that I used more exclamation points than the GOP does after "Benghazi!!!!!!!!!!!" and a larger font.

So there.

I own my exuberance. I do not apologize for shouting. In fact, I hope billionaire Tom Steyer notices.

Which brings me to two related articles from the Los Angeles Times that are relevant to the potential miracle that are solar freakin' roadways: Climate change to result in less nutritional food, report says and billionaire will brand climate skeptics as deniers and highlight the hardships on real people that climate change is already causing.

Dear Billionaire Tom, please invest in solar freakin' roadways (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Not familiar with Mr. Steyer? Please read my previous post, California billionaire may be liberals' answer to the Koch brothers.

Here are a few samples from the Times pieces. Please link over to read the rest. First, Billionaire Tom and his Amazing Super PAC:

A group run by California billionaire Tom Steyer unveiled plans to aggressively target Republicans in seven states who have been skeptics of global warming. Among the political figures the group plans to target is Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who hopes to win a Senate seat from New Hampshire.

The group plans to spend at least $100 million – half of it Steyer’s money, the rest raised from other environmentalists – on campaigns that will include micro-targeting voters, branding climate skeptics as deniers of basic science and highlighting the hardships climate change is already causing.

In other words, he's putting real faces and consequences to the catastrophes caused by climate change. He's humanizing it. He's offering concrete examples of actual living, breathing people being devastated by something tangible, something that the GOP is mocking (House Science Committee Hard At Work: More Hearings on Aliens Than Climate Change). Something many of us don't find very amusing.

Next, check this out. Some crops provide less nutrition than they used to, per a new report, and guess what's behind that:

Research indicates that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reduced the protein content in wheat, for example. And the International Rice Research Institute has warned that the quality of rice available to consumers will decrease as temperatures rise, the report noted. [...]

Scientists already have been investigating breeds of chicken and cattle that can thrive in triple-digit temperatures, grapes that are resilient to heat fungi and crops that won't whither as temperatures rise.

Anyone else find this disturbing?

We are already feeling and seeing the effects of our negligence in caring for our environment, both economically and physically. At this rate it will take a miracle to compensate for our recklessness. We can start with:

solar freakin' roadways climate change miracle 2

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Major GOP donor: Politicians suck. I avoid them.

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rolling in money gop donor smaller

Per the National Journal, multimillionaire GOP donor John Jordan is "the third-largest individual super PAC contributor in the nation, behind only billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer." He hands out money the way Chris Christie hands out jobs at the Port Authority.

Ironically, though, Mr. GOP Donor is no fan of the political types at whom he throws the big bucks. Money talks, and now, so does he, via The National Journal:

Jordan insists he doesn't like glad-handing with politicians. "I'm not trying to spoon with them," he says. "I don't care. In fact, I try to avoid—I go out of my way to avoid meeting candidates and politicians." Why? "All too often, these people are so disappointing that it's depressing. Most of these people you meet, they're unemployable.… It's just easier not to know."

Well if that doesn't inspire confidence in Republican candidates, what does?

He also said this:

[H]e has one rule for his political guests: no speeches. "We all know what they're going to say anyway," he explains.

With friends like these...

money talks

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“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy"

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corporate money america

Why hasn't this big, corporate money, corporate influence event already been canceled, especially after this from the Los Angeles Times: "AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento"?

No other single corporation has spent more trying to influence legislators in recent years. It dispenses millions in political donations and has an army of lobbyists. Bills it opposes are usually defeated.

Here's a press release that just came my way:

Sec. of State Candidate Cressman Urges Lawmakers to Cancel This Weekend’s “Speaker’s Cup” Pebble Beach Fundraiser

Lawmakers Get Schmoozed By Lobbyists, Corporate Titans

Senate cancelled similar fundraiser in wake of Sacramento scandals

Sacramento, CA –

California Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman today blasted lawmakers attending the Speakers Cup Weekend in Pebble Beach this weekend, saying the golf-and-schmooze event embodied everything that is wrong with politics in a state where three lawmakers were recently suspended from the Senate for corruption.

Cressman today called on Assembly Speaker John Perez to cancel the event, just as Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg had recently cancelled a Senate golf fundraiser with corporate interests.

Cressman, who is running on a platform of transparency and reducing the influence of corporate money, said the Pebble Beach event was just a legal version of the bribery and influence-peddling in the Golden State that has made headline news across the country in recent months.

“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy,” said Cressman. “Corporations like AT&T use campaign contributions to elect corporate Democrats who then deliver legislation that boosts their profits at the expense of California consumers,” he said.

“Frankly, it seems AT&T has California by the calls.”

As an example, Cressman pointed to SB 1161, authored by Senator Alex Padilla to deregulate phone service provided over Internet lines. Consumer advocate Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network called it “the most anti-consumer bill ever introduced in California.” AT&T likes the bill so much that it has made a similar version a “model bill” of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC. ALEC is an organization that connects state legislators with corporate and right wing organizations that is best known for promoting the Stand Your Ground law implicated in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Senator Padilla has received at least $108,732 from telecommunication interests, including $43,395 from AT&T and it’s employees during his time in the Senate.

Overall, AT&T has given California legislators $2,336,468 since 2006.

Cressman wants to get corporate money out of California politics by overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that struck down bans on corporate campaign spending under the reasoning that corporations should be considered people with constitutional rights. “AT&T is not a person and it shouldn’t be allowed to buy our elections,” said Cressman. He has led a national movement to place questions on the ballot giving voters the chance to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court. SB 1272, to be voted on in the California Senate Elections Committee on April 21st, would place such a measure on the statewide ballot in November.

AT&T has consistently been able to block legislation to remove monthly fees that it charges consumers to have an unlisted phone number, a basic privacy protection that reportedly nets telecom firms upwards of $50 million per year.

In another instance of telecommunications influence, just last week Senate bill SB962, which was sponsored by Senator Mark Leno in response to the high rate of stolen smartphones, would have forced electronics manufacturers to install a shut-off function in all smartphones failed in the state Senate. The so-called “kill switch” legislation would have required companies to manufacture smartphones with technology that would make them inoperable when not in the owner’s possession.

AT&T has lobbied heavily against the bill.

Note: Edited to correct error in original release.

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"Here's what your money is buying right now..."

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gop your money

We have written countless posts about the Supreme Court's terrible Citizens United decision, followed by their latest debacle, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the other appalling Supreme Court ruling that favors billionaires and allows them to influence our election outcomes.

Even Garry Trudeau couldn't keep quiet about it any longer: The Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!  As I said in that post, a very few obscenely wealthy individuals are able to spend lavishly on candidates, politicians, and potential votes while, try as you might, your money simply can't compete with the endless supply of cash donated by the corporate big boys.

And with that, another installment of today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Money won't buy you votes," Opinion, April 20

Sure, money won't buy the vote of a regular person, but it sure can buy members of the state legislature or Congress. Here's what your money is buying right now:

Profits on gun sales fund the National Rifle Assn. and ensure that even when little kids get slaughtered at school, universal background checks won't pass the Senate despite the fact that about 90% of the country supports them.

Wealthy people who make money from investments make sure they don't get taxed at the same rates as wage earners.

Money strangles the implementation of banking reform. And it makes sure that no matter how many floods, fires or hurricanes we have, nothing is done about climate change.

Best of all, money buys donors the ability to hide behind "social welfare" organizations so nobody knows who's doing these evil things.

Joanne Zirretta

Aliso Viejo

**

A large war chest doesn't guarantee victory, as Republican Meg Whitman learned in 2010 when voters elected Democrat Jerry Brown governor by a wide margin.

But what money does allow is for the wealthy to buy the loyalty of politicians. The handful of GOP presidential hopefuls who visited billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently offer proof of that.

Most Americans agree that the latest Supreme Court rulings loosening campaign finance rules were steps in the wrong direction.

Kyle Laurent

Newhall

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