Posts tagged "2012 elections"

* Rick Pearson at the Tribune takes a look at the claim made by Bruce Rauner’s wife Diana that she’s a Democrat

Since 1995, 77 percent of the more than $500,000 she’s given has gone to Republican candidates and causes, federal and state records show. […]

But state campaign finance records show that since 2009, when Bruce Rauner first contemplated and then rejected making a 2010 bid for governor, Diana Rauner made $238,150 in political donations, with 91 percent going to GOP candidates or conservative groups.

Among federal donations during that time frame, Diana Rauner gave $158,800 to candidates and committees, with 98 percent to Republicans. Several of the donations occurred when Bruce Rauner gave similar-size contributions to the same candidates.

* The Rauner campaign’s response

spokesman Mike Schrimpf said Diana Rauner “voted Democrat throughout the last decade and every time for Barack Obama” on the statewide ballot.

“If that doesn’t make you a Democrat, I don’t know what does,” Schrimpf said in a statement.

Except she didn’t vote in the 2012 primary, when Obama ran for reelection and she contributed to three GOP presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney. She also didn’t vote in the 2010 primary, the last time Gov. Pat Quinn faced voters.

Even more reasons that Bruce Rauner is NOT to be trusted or elected in November. 

h/t: CapitolFax

Following the announcement Thursday that conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza has been charged with violating federal campaign finance laws, his allies are claiming that the move is evidence of a conspiracy by the Obama administration to silence its critics.

D’Souza has been a fixture in conservative media circles for years, and his laughable 2012 documentary 2016: Obama’s America became a surprise critical success thanks in part to the support of his media allies. Reuters reports that D’Souza ”has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate,” allegedly reimbursing “people who he had directed to contribute $20,000” to the unnamed candidate (reportedly Wendy Long).

Matt Drudge tweeted that the indictments against D’Souza and former Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder is “unleashing the dogs” on “Obama critics.”

In a panicked video headlined “Emergency: Obama Launches Purge” posted on his YouTube channel last night, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones told viewers that “America is going over the edge,” adding, “I actually am scared.” According to Jones, the charges against former Gov. McDonnell are “trumped up garbage” (for what it’s worth, conservatives like Byron York disagree, labeling the details “ugly, sordid, damning”).

Pointing to the supposed persecution of D’Souza, Jones claimed that the administration is engaged in much worse behavior and warned, “The issue is here, they can find a mistake in your checking account and claim that it was fraud or wire fraud. They can do it to anybody.” According to Jones, “this is like Nazi Germany” and “once they’re done with these guys, they’re coming after you and I.” 

The description posted on Jones’ YouTube channel explains that this is an “Emergency Alert!!!,” adding “This is it, we are in deep shit! If they get away with this they will come for all of us, that’s how it works!!!”

On her radio show this morning, Fox contributor Laura Ingraham claimed that “we are criminalizing political dissent in the United States of America. Welcome to the Brave New World of retribution justice.” Ingraham argued that D’Souza is one of the “most effective critics” of the Obama administration, and that the charges are “so transparent.” The indictment “is more about stifling political dissent and intimidating other people from speaking out than it is about any real serious allegation of wrongdoing,” per Ingraham. Ingraham is close friends with Wendy Long, and hosted a fundraiser for Long with D’Souza. 

An article on FoxNews.com includes the suggestion from a “close colleague” of D’Souza’s that the indictment is “selective prosecution” in the first sentence. The story is currently featured as the top story on the network’s website:

Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted:

Radio host and former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh saw a pattern with McDonnell’s indictment and Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s recent troubles:

And conservative website Newsmax labeled the charges “Payback” in a banner headline on their homepage:

h/t: MMFA

(via Huffington Post: 7 Charts To Understand Citizens United On Its 4th Anniversary)

WASHINGTON — Four years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that corporations could spend unlimited sums of money on independent political spending. That ruling also applied to labor unions and, following a subsequent lower court ruling, to individual donors, as well.

The ensuing four years have seen significant changes to the way campaigns are funded, and an increase in influence for big money donors, as the independent political spending allowed by the court exploded. As these groups have spent more money, the sources of a large portion of their spending have gone undisclosed.

Below are seven charts to help you understand the impact of the Citizens United ruling as it reaches its fourth year:

Big Money Dominates

Top 1% Of Donors Accounted For Two-Thirds Of All Super PAC Funds In 2012
  • Top 1%: 68%
  • Other 99%: 32%
Source: Center for Responsive Politics.



According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top 1 percent of super PAC donors accounted for 68 percent of all contributions made to super PACs in the 2012 election, the first full election cycle following the ruling.

These donors were led by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family, who combined to give more than $93 million to super PACs. The super PAC, created following both the Citizens United and the related SpeechNow.org decisions, became the primary vehicle for independent spending for the wealthy. While these groups are required to disclose their spending, they are also allowed to spend all of their funds on electoral efforts, unlike nonprofit organizations. But more on that later.

The top 1 percent of super PAC donors reads like the Forbes 400 or a guest list at Davos. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg operates his very own super PAC. The libertarian venture capitalist billionaire Peter Thiel became the largest donor to the Club for Growth’s super PAC as it worked to defeat establishment Republicans in primary campaigns. And billionaire hedge funders James Simons, Robert Mercer, Paul Singer and Ken Griffin all gave millions.

Billionaires now have an easy outlet for their entrepreneurial endeavors in politics. The only question is whether they want their names on a plaque — in this case, a disclosed FEC report — or if they would rather remain anonymous.

[…]

Of course, it isn’t so simple. The court’s ruling opened the door for nonprofit corporations, whether they are funded by corporations or not, to spend unlimited amounts on independent campaign activity so long as they remain in bounds of the lax tax laws that govern them. These tax laws do not require the disclosure of nonprofit donors. In fact, prior court rulings and Federal Election Commission legal interpretations had protected nonprofits from donor disclosure.

Nonprofits are not ideal for individuals or corporations who want to spend money on independent political activity, due to tax laws requiring these groups to spend a majority of their time outside of politics. But the donor anonymity they are guaranteed can make nonprofits worth the investment. The billionaire Koch brothers and their donor collective used a labyrinthine network of nonprofit groups to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into both the 2010 and 2012 elections.

One of the most obvious examples of donors’ desire for anonymity comes in the form of the Crossroads groups founded by Karl Rove. There is American Crossroads, the super PAC that discloses its donors, and there is Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit that does not. As evidenced in the chart below, donors have chosen anonymity at a rate of two-to-one since the groups were founded in 2010.

Donors Choose Dark Money Over Disclosure 
  • American Crossroads: $144,047,997
  • Crossroads GPS: $256,547,160
Source: Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service.



More Money Than Candidates

In the 2012 election, independent groups spent more money than the actual candidates in three general election Senate races. That’s right — in Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin, the major party candidates in the general election were outspent by independent groups.

That same dynamic played out in at least six House races in 2012. In California’s 35th District, independent groups — and really, just one independent group — spent two times as much as the candidates. In this race between two Democrats, Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC intervened with $3.3 million as the billionaire mayor sought to defeat the pro-gun incumbent Rep. Joe Baca (D). And he did: Bloomberg’s super PAC spending is credited with helping the heavily underfunded Gloria Negrete McLeod defeat Baca.

Shattered Television Advertising Records

Presidential Television Advertising Surged Post-Citizens United
  • 2004: 753,000
  • 2008: 796,000
  • 2012: 1,140,000
Source: Wesleyan Media Project. Numbers are based on data released in the paper titled, “Negative, Angry, and Ubiquitous: Political Advertising in 2012.”



The Wesleyan Media Project tracked television advertising in the 2012 election and found that advertising in the presidential campaign shattered previous records for money spent and advertising volume.

The number of television advertisements in the presidential general election jumped from approximately 753,000 in 2004 to approximately 1.14 million in 2012. While the decision by both President Barack Obama and also GOP nominee Mitt Romney to forgo public funding accounts for some of the increase, the rise of independent spending also played a major role.

Sherman is right on with the statement that Romney’s 2012 General Election War Room basically being run by Fox and RWNJ Talk Radio.

From the 01.14.2014 edition of CNN’s Piers Morgan Live:

A six-part series by New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick destroyed several myths about the September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, myths often propagated by conservative media and their allies in Congress to politicize the attack against the Obama administration.

Since the September 2012 attacks, right-wing media have seized upon various inaccurate, misleading, or just plain wrong talking points about Benghazi. Some of those talking points made their way into the mainstream, most notably onto CBS’ 60 Minutesearning the network the Media Matters' 2013 "Misinformer of the Year" title for its botched report.

Kirkpatrick’s series, titled "A Deadly Mix In Benghazi," debunks a number of these right-wing talking points based on “months of investigation” and “extensive interviews” with those who had “direct knowledge of the attack.” Among other points, Kirkpatrick deflates the claims that an anti-Islamic YouTube video played no role in motivating the attacks and that Al Qaeda was involved in the attack: 

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

Fox News, scores of Republican pundits, and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), among others, dragged then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice through the mud for citing talking points that mentioned an anti-Islamic YouTube video on Sunday morning news programs following the attacks. Despite right-wing media claims to the contrary, however, Kirkpatrick stated that the attack on the Benghazi compoundwas in “large part” “fueled” by the anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube. He wrote (emphasis added):

The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

[…]

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.

Another talking point that right-wing media used to accuse the Obama administration of a political cover-up was the removal of Al Qaeda from Rice’s morning show talking points. Kirkpatrick, however, affirmed in his NYTimes report that Al Qaeda was not involved in the attack in Benghazi (emphasis added):

But the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network. The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.

Kirkpatrick also dispelled the notion that the attack on the compound was carefully planned, writing that “the attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.” 

h/t: MMFA

The NYT investigation on the Benghazi story is yet more proof that the right-wing was using scaremongering tactics about what happened there as a tool to attempt to get Romney elected President in 2012, smear President Obama (and Democrats by extension) with impunity, and to deliberately harm Hillary’s reputation for the 2016 elections.

h/t: Matt Wilstein at Mediaite

Marcus and Michele Bachmann could be heading to prison as the Department of Justice is investigating the couple for possibly breaking at least 11 election laws in 2012.

The New York Times reported:

The latest is a federal inquiry into whether an outside “super PAC” improperly coordinated strategy with Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign staff, including her husband, in violation of election laws.

The Department of Justice demanded records from the super PAC last week of its finances and its communications with Mrs. Bachmann; Marcus Bachmann, her husband; and former staff members, according to a grand jury subpoena reviewed by The New York Times.

The investigation appears to stem from a complaint a former campaign staff member made to the Federal Election Commission and to the F.B.I. The staff member told of overhearing the president of the super PAC asking a Bachmann senior adviser about buying advertising on radio and TV stations in Des Moines ahead of the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3, 2012.

Although Bachmann may have technically retired from Congress, in reality she quit because the criminal investigations were closing in on her. This is the first time that Marcus Bachmann has been named in reports as part of an investigation. The same troubled presidential campaign that the Department of Justice is looking at is also the subject of an investigation in Iowa, an FBI investigation, and a House Ethics Committee investigation.

[…]

It is ironic that Bachmann’s people used conviction in their title because the Bachmanns are going to be lucky to avoid conviction and jail time. Michele Bachmann is in a huge amount of trouble, as it it appears that she was running one of the most ineptly corrupt presidential campaigns in recent memory.

Even if Bachmann is convicted of a felony, none of this will stop Fox News or the right wing media from giving her a job. After all, these are the same people who have kept Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy employed for decades.

Michele Bachmann is close to trading the easy life of a member of Congress for a rap sheet and criminal convictions.

h/t: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA

If you’re looking for a Republican congressman who truly embodies the ethos of the Tea Party, Maryland Representative Andy Harris is a pretty good pick.

Harris, you see, is no fan of “big government” and he’s definitely not a fan of Rinos (“Republicans in name only”).

Harris made a national name for himself in 2008, when he successfully launched a primary campaign against insufficiently conservative 18-year congressional veteran Wayne Gilchrest. Although Harris lost in the general election, he was more successful two years later, joining his Tea Party contingent in the House of Representatives.

As a congressman, Harris has had a difficult time finding a single government program or legislative initiative he doesn’t hate. He opposed the debt limit deal in the summer of 2011; he was one of the handful of Republicans to vote against the fiscal cliff deal in January 2013; he’s against immigration reform, foreign aid, more money for Pell grants, and even the Violence Against Women Act.

And, of course, he hates Obamacare.

This record of conservative allegiance would, you might imagine, inoculate Harris from Tea Party criticism. Yet, earlier this month, in a town hall meeting in his home district, he was assailed by his constituents – for not being strident and uncompromising enough.

"You guys are being nice guys" and "I want to see more defiance!" were just some of the accusations hurled at the congressman in a heated session that included questions about the supposed IRS scandal and the current lodestar of conservative lunacy – Benghazi.

Harris is not alone.

Blake Farenthold, another Tea Party Republican from Texas, who voted against the fiscal cliff deal as well, and told constituents ”there are several [cabinet] departments we could completely get rid of”, wasassailed by “birthers” for the GOP’s failure to impeach President Obama. (His defense was not that impeachment would be insane, but that it would be infeasible.) Tea Partiers in North Carolina pummeled CongressmanRobert Pittenger for refusing to support defunding Obamacare even thought he has supported a number of bills repealing Obamacare.

Indeed, across the nation, Republican senators and congressmen are finding themselves under withering assault from Tea Party critics.

After three and a half years of legislative hostage-taking and policy nihilism and unceasing, uncompromising obstructionism of President Obama’s agenda, the message from the Tea Party is a simple one: we want more crazy.

So what’s going on here? Quite simply, Republicans are being destroyed by the rightwing monster they created.

Although, once upon a time, the divide in the GOP was between moderates and conservatives; today, the intra-party cleavage is between the Republican establishment and the lunatic fringe. And the fringe is not so fringe-y.

For years, the GOP establishment mined this wellspring of racial and economic anxiety. They railed against gay marriage and abortion; attacked big government and out-of-control federal spending and demonized welfare and social programs.

But once in office, Republicans had a funny way of never really carrying through with their tough rhetoric. Rather than do away with social security or Medicare – they strengthened it and expanded it. Rather than slash government spending or the size of the federal bureaucracy – they increased it. The more visceral imperative for Republican officeholders was to provide tax breaks for their wealthy supporters, weaken regulation (be it financial, environmental or workplace) and, above all, hold on to their political power. Going after sacred cows like social insurance programs or popular spending programs, or working to enact abortion restrictions, were political nonstarters (or were quickly shelved once they became political liabilities).

Then, in 2009, things began to take a turn. With the election of Barack Obama, Republicans found themselves with a new political adversary uniquely capable of upsetting the far right – and the GOP made sure this was exactly what happened. Playing on fears of social change, racial anxiety and expanding big government, Republican leaders inveighed against the evils of Obamacare and the president’s alleged profligate spending.

They pulled out every stop to thwart Obama’s legislative agenda, and even went far down the political rabbit hole as they flirted with “birtherism”, charges of socialism, and allegations that the president was a secret Muslim. In the process, they both enraged and energized the party’s most radical followers.

The result was a short-term political victory (control of the House of Representatives, won in the 2010 midterms) – but an increasingly long-term political headache, like the one playing out in GOP town hall meetings across America right now. The establishment players in Congress found themselves with a host of new Tea Partier colleagues little interested in following the usual GOP script of compromise in the name of political necessity. They were willing to undermine the full faith and credit of the US government in order to force draconian spending cuts upon the White House. They’ve continued their assault on Obamacare, voting to repeal it 40 times, and now, one of the group’s biggest bomb-throwers, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, is talking aboutshutting down the government in order to defund it. They’ve allowed sequestration – and its devastating affect on communities across the country – to continue. And they have resisted any and all effort to moderate the party’s image, dragging the Republican establishment under the bus with them.

On immigration reform, the Tea Party contingent has made clear that the Senate immigration bill is dead-in-the-water – thus, gravely undermining national GOP efforts to improve the party’s image among Hispanic voters. On abortion rights, state legislatures filled with ultra-conservatives continue to pass legislation restricting access to reproductive health services and, in the process, further devastated the party’s already poor relationship with women voters. In the struggle between those who want to moderate the party (albeit only slightly) and those who want to ride the train straight to crazy-ville, the latter are winning.

Finally, they’ve turned their guns on their own leaders and, in the process, driven the party more and more toward their uncompromising positions.

With deadlines coming soon on a possible government shutdown and an extension of the debt limit, Republican leaders like Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is facing a Tea Party primary challenge are under growing pressure to not get off the politically suicidal path on which they find themselves – but instead to stay the course.

The result of all this is more dysfunction, more budgetary shutdowns and more political black eyes for a Republican party unable to reason with its most ideologically fervent followers. None of this should really be unexpected. If you’re going to tell radical conservatives that Obamacare is the worst thing to ever happen to America, is it really a surprise that those same extremists are not going to meekly nod when you tell them that it’s now a fact of life? If you’re going to tell voters that government debt is destroying the country, is it really a surprise when those voters demand that every step must be taken to reduce it?

Any hope that the defeat of Mitt Romney in November 2012 would begin to drain the GOP’s fever swamp has gone by the wayside – and Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. In nurturing and radicalizing its extremist fringe – in pursuit of short-term gain – the Republican establishment created a political Frankenstein. Increasingly, however, it looks as though the monster’s first victim is going to be them.

h/t: Michael Cohen at The Guardian

Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt is upset that just because President Obama “got 50-plus percent of the vote,” he thinks can now carry out his policy agenda. In one of his frequent interviews with conspiracy nut Alex Jones recently, Pratt alleged that the president is a “communist,” a “full-bore Marxist” and a “Mr. Dictator” who is “grabbing ahold of every bit of power and centralizing in his hands.”

Pratt also agreed with Jones that Democrats “had to steal the election” and urged supporters to take jobs as election monitors because “it’s either that or the republic.”


H/T: RWW

After watching the Republican presidential candidates lose the last two elections, right-wing activist Ken Blackwell cooked up a scheme whereby states would move away from winner-take-all allocations of electors to a system in which Electoral College votes would be assigned according to congressional districts.

The result would be that a Republican presidential candidate who does not win the overall popular vote in the state could still end up receiving a majority of that state’s electoral votes simply by virtue of winning the popular vote in more individual districts.

Today, Blackwell appeared on “WallBuilders Live" to promote this scheme, where it was met with enthusiastic support from Rick Green and David Barton. As Blackwell explained, if every state had implemented this plan for the 2012 election, Mitt Romney would have won despite the fact that he lost the overall popular vote by nearly 5 million votes.

Blackwell: There’s an old farmer’s tale that if you throw a brick at a pack of pigs, the one that squeals is the one you hit.  Well, when we put this out there, the Left started squealing, the New York Times started squealing, so we must be on to something.

Green: You must be on to something. No doubt about that.  I haven’t had a chance to look, I don’t if anyone has done a map, I’d be real curious to know if every state did this, how would the last few elections [have gone]? Have you had a chance to look?

Blackwell: I already know. If every state did it, Romney would have won the election.  And so that’s another reason that the Left just instinctively dislikes it.

Barton: This actually is a way to give the people a greater voice rather than just having the majority slap it to the minority every time you turn around. And I really like what he’s proposed here with reverting back out of the winner-take-all philosophy of the states, going back to congressional district take all, which is a good way to do it.

From the 05.02.2013 edition of Wallbuilders Live:

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch

questionall:

A few weeks ago I put together  this handy chart of the various components of the GOP coalition. While we already know that the various factions have their own pet issues and causes, the current GOP civil war is exposing the actual distaste the various groups have for each other.

Jed already hit the Christian Right’s whining of Republicans abandoning them on marriage equality. But I want to refocus on Gary Bauer’s comments, because they go beyond simple grousing over a wayward coalition partner:

“If we gave our voters an accurate portrayal of our ideas, that we want to cut the rate of growth on Social Security, give tax cuts to billionaires and then the values issues, the values issues would be more popular than the economic agenda of the current Republican Party,” said [social conservative leader Gary] Bauer…

Ignore the fact that there’s nothing popular about the GOP’s “values.” Just note how he portrays his party’s economic agenda:

give tax cuts to billionaires

That’s how we liberals frame the Mitt Romney wing of the GOP. Economic conservatives might pretend that there’s more to them than tax cuts for billionaires, but even their own partners disagree. And Bauer can’t even be bothered to pretend otherwise anymore.

That’s not a characterization that suggests mutual respect and agreement, but one of barely disguised disgust. Theirs is a marriage of convenience—the Gordon Geckos don’t care for the Bible Thumbers, the Bible Thumpers don’t care for the Gordon Geckos. And now that their collective suck isn’t leading to White House victories, the knives are out.

Funny thing is, both those sides are equally to blame for the GOP’s woes. Mitt Romney conservatism (aka “tax cuts for billionaires”) is as unpopular as Rick Santorum conservatism (aka “hate the gays”). They need each other to amount to something, but that’s no longer a nationally viable party.

GOP factions splitting.