The Puppet Masters

Last week, we learned that the primary bank roller behind Santorum’s Super PAC is an odd and out-of-it old billionaire that probably still calls women “tomatoes” when he’s not on TV explaining how birth control in his day was aspirin-enhanced nonslutiness.  Oh what fresh hell has the Supreme Court wrought with its Citizens United decision?  We’ve long known that negative, nasty political ads work. Now, each candidate seems to have an endless supply of funds so that proxies can say what ever they want in such ads with absolutely no accountability.  We’re all so finding out these Super PAC ads are being funded by a few “Super Donors”.  This adds a new twist to voter beware homework.  We know have to investigate the candidate’s funding sources.  After all, money screams in elections these days. We now have Swift Boat Idiots for Lies on steroids.  Each candidate seems to collect billionaire gadflies with specific agendas in mind.

Robert Reich just wrote a blog piece on the GOP’s Big Investors.  The GOP has always been a magnet for big money so it’s really interesting to see the Super Pac Super Money play out on in their primary dynamics.  I think we’ve seen that Romney’s Super Pac had some effect on Florida and the Gingrich rising star.  We’re really going to get some of the flavor of this ruling since the final four have now gotten some cash infusion from various billionaires.  The lead up to Super Tuesday on March 6th should be very very interesting and telling.  Since we know they bankroll the garbage, who are these enablers of smack?

Have you heard of William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, Peter Thiel, or Bruce Kovner? If not, let me introduce them to you. They’re running for the Republican nomination for president.

I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are – but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors.

According to January’s Federal Election Commission report, William Dore and Foster Friess supplied more than three-fourths of the $2.1 million raked in by Rick Santorum’s super PAC in January. Dore, president of the Dore Energy Corporation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, gave $1 million; Freis, a fund manager based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gave $669,000 (he had given the Santorum super PAC $331,000 last year, bringing Freis’s total to $1 million).

Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam provided $10 million of the $11 million that went into Gingrich’s super PAC in January. Adelson is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Texas billionaire Harold Simmons donated $500,000.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, provided $1.7 million of the $2.4 million raised by Ron Paul’s super PAC in January.

Mitt Romney’s super PAC raised $6.6 million last month – almost all from just forty donors. Bruce Kovner, co-founder of the New York-based hedge fund Caxton Associates, gave $500,000, as did two others. David Tepper of Appaloosa Management gave $375,000. J.W. Marriott and Richard Marriott gave a total of $500,000. Julian Robertson, co-founder of hedge fund Tiger Management, gave $250,0000. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman gave $100,000.

Welcome to the tyranny of the Super Donor.

About two dozen individuals, couples or corporations have given $1 million or more to Republican super PACs this year, an exclusive club empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other rulings to pool their money into federal political committees and pour it directly into this year’s presidential campaign.

Collectively, their contributions have totaled more than $50 million this cycle, making them easily the most influential and powerful political donors in politics today. They have relatively few Democratic counterparts so far, with most of the leading liberal donors from past years giving relatively small amounts — or not at all — to the Democratic super PACs.

And unlike in past years, when wealthy donors of both parties donated chiefly to groups that were active in the general election campaign, the top Republican donors are contributing money far earlier, in contests that will determine the party’s presidential nominee.

“What unites them? They’re economic conservatives,” said Christopher J. LaCivita, a Republican strategist who helped advise Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a forerunner of this cycle’s super PACs, and who in 2008 co-founded another Republican advocacy group, the American Issues Project, that ran advertisements against President Obama.

“Most of these guys are serious business tycoons,” Mr. LaCivita added. “They’ve built something big — usually something bigger than themselves.”

We’re lucky some of these guys are open about their donations. They have some tools available to them to avoid the public exposure.  It will be interesting to see if more or less of that occurs as we study their influence on candidates and races.

A few of the megadonors gave through limited liability companies, shielding their identity. One $1 million donation to Restore Our Future came from F8 LLC, a company whose listed address in Utah leads to an accounting firm. A charitable foundation linked to Sandra N. Tillotson, co-founder of the skin care company Nu Skin, uses the same address. Ms. Tillotson was reimbursed by Restore Our Future in July for what appeared to be costs associated with a fund-raiser at her New York apartment. But Ms. Tillotson said in an e-mail Wednesday that she did not know who the owner of F8 LLC was and had not made a donation backing Mr. Romney’s campaign.

So, I’ve been on a Google Trek to try to figure out who some of these people are and what their agenda might be.  Bruce Kovner is a hedge fund executive and seems to have a fairly traceable history via the Wall Street set.  He’s been likened to a Republican version of George Soros.  He has been active in Republican circles for some time.

Some investors, like George Soros and Stanley Druckenmiller, have decided that rather than weather the whims of outside investors, they would prefer to manage their own money as a family office, a designation that allows them to largely avoid regulation.

Like Mr. Soros, Mr. Kovner has grown extremely wealthy betting on global market trends using stocks, currencies and commodities, among other things. He bought the former International Center for Photography on Fifth Avenue and 94th street for $17 million and spent another $10 million renovating it. An avid collector of rare books, Mr. Kovner named his hedge fund after the first printer of English-language books. Forbes magazine estimated Mr. Kovner’s wealth to be in excess of $4.5 billion.

Unlike Mr. Soros, a generous donor to liberal causes, Mr. Kovner is a conservative supporter who counts among his associates former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. He is a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization, and has given more than $100,000 to Republican causes and candidates since 2010.

William Dore has a lower public profile. Interestingly enough, a couple of these super donors appear to come from Louisiana.  I suppose it only makes sense since the state has a seriously regressive atmosphere when it comes to taxes, spending, and outside New Orleans Culture. Dore’s money comes from marine construction and diving which translates into connections to the oil platforms that dot the Gulf.  So, Kovner represents Wall Street interests while Dore is most likely more interested in the treatment of the Oil Industry. Sheldon Adelson is a gambling industry tycoon who is extremely interested in the interests of Israel.

Two rumours are circulating around Sheldon Adelson, the Jewish Las Vegas casino magnate and publisher of pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom. One is that he is about to pump another $10 million into Newt Gingrich’s presidency bid. The other, apparently contradictory, piece of speculation is that he is shifting his support to Mitt Romney.

Evidence that can be marshalled in favour of the first rumour is that Mr Adelson and his family have already donated $11m to a pro-Gingrich super PAC – a group that lobbies on behalf of a political candidate. Meanwhile, he told Forbes magazine this week he may increase that to $100m.

What is going on? Fred Zeidman, a close friend of Adelson and a major fundraiser for Mr Romney, explained: “As long as Newt is in the race it appears that Sheldon is going to continue to support him. I don’t know what that means in terms of money, but I think… when Newt is out of the race, you will see Sheldon devote that money directly to supporting whoever is running against Barack Obama.” Mr Adelson’s overriding objective, said Mr Zeidman, is to ensure Mr Obama does not win.

Peter Thiel’s money comes from Pay Pal. He’s a major libertarian, has a foundation, and goes out on the lecture circuit to proselytize for Ayn Randish ideas. Here’s an account from one true believer on another.  I still don’t understand the idea of how libertarians worship at the alter of out spoken fascists like Ludwig Von Mises and enjoy the support of the KKK, storm front and all those old Confederate Crusaders.  I think it comes from spending too much time in fantasy worlds.  Anyway, they all seem to be the new 21st century Marxist ideologues.  Damn all the evidence, let’s just put into effect a lot of things that have been proven to not work just because it sounds all ideologically sexy.  Try not to imagine this writer masturbating as he’s writing this.  I dare you. Of course, Thiel’s is a Paultard.

Whatever their number, these young libertarians are the potential saviors of the country.   Peter Thiel – co-founder of PayPal and Facebook angel investor – made this argument as the SFL conference keynote speaker.  According to Thiel, the United States is in a bad position:  Innovation drives the U.S. industry and our innovation (with a few exceptions, namely the computer/internet world) has stagnated.  Witness the airplane – the planes we now fly go the same speed as they did in 1990.  We use coal for large amounts of energy, just as we did in the nineteenth century.  The number of new drugs we produce has slowed.  Life expectancy is no longer rising at the rate it once did. Etc.

Unreasonable explanations for this include:  1) We’ve reached the end of history; it’s impossible for us to improve on the technology of the plane, and 2) We’re not as smart as we used to be.

Peter’s alternative explanation – developed in his essay “The End of the Future” – is far more feasible:  the modern regulatory system has choked invention.

And the only people in the place to fix this aren’t the statists on the right or on the left, but the libertarians.  As Peter said, “It’s an exciting time to be a libertarian.”

Armed with new enthusiasm, I spent the rest of the weekend at SFL learning more about how the state is choking development, and I met the people who are going to fix this course in the near future.

My theory is that these Paulbot guys know the only way they will EVER have sex outside of the virtual world, pot induced hallucinations, and hookers is to have enough money to buy a trophy mistress and wife.  Since I’m not a voyeur to self abuse, I’ll leave you to google more on this dude in the privacy of your own home,  By Onan’s withered Balls!

So, all this googling has left me feeling like the plutocracy is live and well.  If you didn’t think America’s government was basically up for sale these days, reading about any of these folks will do it.  I’ve been boycotting Marriott for decades since all that Mormon money went heavily into running anti-ERA efforts in the late 70s.  I watched that unfold first hand as a baby feminist and activist. It’s now creeping and crawling around the Romney campaign. There’s a lot of Mormon corporate money behind the Romney Super Pac.

Several of the biggest donors to Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Mr. Romney, share the candidate’s Mormon faith. A quartet of companies connected to Melaleuca, a company based in Idaho that makes nutritional supplements and home care products, donated a combined $1 million to Restore Our Future.

The company is headed by Frank VanderSloot, a national finance co-chairman of the Romney campaign and a graduate of Brigham Young University, Mr. Romney’s alma mater. “I am very concerned about the direction of the country and especially the administration’s constant attacks on free enterprise,” Mr. VanderSloot said in an e-mail.

Many of the biggest givers to the pro-Romney super PAC hail from the world of finance, particularly private equity and hedge funds. Julian H. Robertson Jr., who has given at least $1.25 million to Restore Our Future, is considered one of the godfathers of the hedge fund industry.

The one thing these Super PACS have done is put the agendas right out there if you look for them. You can clearly see the Romney agenda from your front porch. If you like women’s unequal status and gamed financial markets,by all means support Willard just like his SuperPac Puppet Masters do! Any way, I suggest you try to keep track of these ballers and who they buy.  I also wonder if these billionaires will be happy if the press starts focusing laserlike on their activities. Right now, Forbes appears to be the only magazine with the lives and ideology of the rich and not so famous.   I figure if they want to buy our elections, the least we can do is out their activities for all to see.


12 Comments on “The Puppet Masters”

  1. Woman Voter says:

    What is the difference between having a KING and the SUPER PAC RICH COMMITTEE? They are working on ridding us of every social program that WE pay for and working on lowering the minimum wage in two states…while demonizing women, the poor, LGBT, teachers, unions and even Children.

    Enough, this is what the Super Greedos (Got their WELFARE BAIL OUTS and sitting on the money) of Wall Street and Super Corps have brought:

    Oh, and the wars that they don’t pay for, but benefit from. If they want wars, then they should pay a SUPER WAR TAX! Even our military’s families don’t have health care, and sometimes not even protective gear while serving.

    • peggysue22 says:

      That’s one grim video, WV! The homeless living under Las Vegas casinos is a perfect metaphor for what’s going on in the country.

      Thanks for posting!

  2. At work so no time to read, but this post is so apropos. I was just screaming at the radio in my car listening to James Bop (sp?) on Fresh Air. What a complete a$$. He’s the attorney that originated the Citizens’ United suit. Unfortunately audio for the show isn’t available yet. Here’s a link to Fresh Air: http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/ PLEASE check the link later & listen. He was spouting a pack of lies, based on no data, fact or sliver of reality & yet had the cojones to accuse Terry of doing just that. Still angry.

  3. northwestrain says:

    I’ll never forgive the Mormons for trashing the ERA.

    Paypal — forget it — I won’t use that now that I know what sort of a person is at the helm of Paypal.

    But if we were to believe the “Family” — these really urber rich guys are blessed by god.

    Fascinating research — Rich guys proving that they can buy anything including elections.

    • dakinikat says:

      The only hope for exposing this agenda seems to lie with states that will find ways to expose the donors to these PACS and the media who can feature them in exposes. Unfortunately,that’s a buckshot approach to something that needs a high powered rifle.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    I’m really glad these names are coming out. At least we’ll know who is really running the country if one of these guys gets in the WH, which I certainly hope never happens.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Twelve states with republican governors that are always screaming about how broke they are have filed against the birth control mandate. I guess their attorney generals skipped the day all the free exercise precedents were discussed in their constitutional law classes.

    Nebraska–who is always one of the biggest misogynist capitals of the US–is leading the fight. I’m not going to link to any thing yet because it’s all fetus fetish sites at this point.

  6. peggysue22 says:

    Fascinating report, Dak. The Citizen’s United supporters always point to Union donations as the Boogie Man and how the whole United decision simply leveled the playing field. Ridiculous! Union numbers are at all time record lows and the Unions couldn’t touch this level of money. It’s just an unseemly continuation of far-right ideology that isn’t content unless it controls and ultimately destroys everything in pursuit of endless growth and greed on the backs of others.

    • I think it was Rachel Maddow that showed that only 2 groups supporting Democrats in the last 2 elections were in the Top Ten top givers. Those 2 groups? Both unions. Any question why these Repug governors have waged a jihad on unions?

  7. Here are the links to the podcasts of the 2 segments on Super Pacs on Fresh Air today:

    http://www.npr.org/2012/02/23/147294509/examining-the-superpac-with-colberts-trevor-potter

    http://www.npr.org/2012/02/23/147294511/understanding-the-impact-of-citizens-united This is the one with James Bopp who initiated the Citizens’ United suit.

  8. Roofingbird says:

    Maybe if if the front runner donors spend enough this election against each other it will blow the wind out of the wing nut sails for a while.

    If they pass tax credits for campaign contributions we might as well give up.