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“Misidentification Or Outright Lie?”: Oops; Republican Super PAC Misidentifies Source Of Massive Donation

Republican super PAC American Crossroads misidentified its second-largest donor last month in paperwork filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

The group, co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, listed the Glenmede Trust Company as giving it $300,000 on Aug. 29, part of the $1.7 million American Crossroads raised in August.

But Glenmede spokeswoman Melissa Stonberg says the wealth management firm — which manages more than $25 billion for wealthy individuals, families and foundations — didn’t give American Crossroads a penny.

“The Glenmede Trust Company, N.A. did not make any donations to American Crossroads,” Stonberg told the Center for Public Integrity. “We have contacted American Crossroads to let them know of the misreporting.”

Paul Lindsay, the spokesman for American Crossroads, did not respond to questions about the apparent discrepancy Monday morning.

Several hours later, however, American Crossroads filed an amended report to the FEC that now identifies the $300,000 as coming from Thomas and Sandra Sullivan, the parents of U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Lindsay confirmed the super PAC changed its report but declined additional comment.

A representative of RPM International, the family business where Thomas Sullivan currently serves as chairman emeritus of the board of directors, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Center for Public Integrity first raised questions about the six-figure super PAC contribution because the address American Crossroads listed for Glenmede seemed odd: It wasn’t the location of the company’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia but that of a beachside condo in Florida.

Thomas Sullivan is the owner of the $3 million, 2,850-square-foot condo, according to Miami-Dade County records.

For their parts, Thomas and Sandra Sullivan have previously donated $250,000 to an Alaska-based super PAC known as “Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values,” which supports their son.

That super PAC has raised $460,000 through July 30, according to FEC records.

American Crossroads says it has spent more than $1.3 million in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race and reportedly plans to spend $5.5 million in the race.

Through mid-September, the group has already aired more than 1,600 TV ads in the race, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking service.

In August, only one other donor gave more money to American Crossroads than the Sullivans — Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, who gave $500,000.

 

By: Michael Beckel, The Center for Public Integrity, September 22, 2014

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Karl Rove | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Koch Cadre Billionaire Defends Nazi Comments”: For The Continued Success Of The Richest Americans

Ken Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder, GOP donor and an ally of Charles and David Koch, clumsily defended his March 2014 comments comparing populist criticism of the 1% with the rise of Nazi Germany, in an interview with Capital New York published this week.

Langone, a regular attendee of the twice-yearly secret strategy sessions for the mega rich organized by Charles and David Koch, has been speaking publicly of his concerns for the continued success of the richest Americans.

“We’re being strangled by regulation,” Langone told a conference of hedge fund managers in Las Vegas in mid May, as reported by CNN. “You’re in the 1%, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he continued. “You can do so much more with money than pay your taxes.”

The Top One Percent as Victims

Now, Langone has spoken to defend his past Nazi comparison, despite having somewhat backtracked just two months earlier.

From Huff Post:

Billionaire Kenneth Langone is still defending his comparison of income inequality talking points to rhetoric in Nazi Germany, after apologizing two months ago for the comments.

In a Capital New York interview published Monday morning, the Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor said it was a fair analogy to illustrate how democratic elections can yield results he finds terrifying.

“I simply said just because we’re a democracy doesn’t mean you can’t have bad results,” he said. “That’s all! I stand on what I said.”

Huff Post continued:

In a March interview with Politico, which owns Capital, Langone said a GOP pivot toward the economic populism championed by progressives and by such Tea Party candidates as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would mirror the rise of Adolf Hitler.

“I hope it’s not working,” Langone said of the political appeals at the time. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany.”

Koch “Cadre”

The Kochs have been building their politcal network for more than forty years.

Nicholas Confessore, wrote about the history of the Koch brothers political activities in a front page New York Times story on May 18, 2014, detailing the origins of the present day Koch political operation.

According to Confessore, in a speech given to business leaders and others in 1974, Charles Koch outlined that vision saying: “The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today.”

The Koch brothers are not the only billionaires using their wealth to push for radical deregulation. They now have a whole cadre.

 

By: Nick Surgey, The Center For Media and Democracy, May 19, 2014

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Economic Inequality, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“If You Go Back To 1933”: Another Billionaire With A Victim’s Complex And An Unhealthy Nazi Fixation

Ben White and Maggie Haberman report this morning that the political winds seem to have shifted lately in the One Percenters’ direction. Whereas a few months ago, economic populism looked like it’d give Democrats a boost in 2014, and polls showed strong public support for addressing economic inequality, Wall Street and its allies are feeling more confident.

In two-dozen interviews, the denizens of Wall Street and wealthy precincts around the nation said they are still plenty worried about the shift in tone toward top earners and the popularity of class-based appeals…. But wealthy Republicans – who were having a collective meltdown just two months ago – also say they see signs that the political zeitgeist may be shifting back their way and hope the trend continues.

“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

Oh for crying out loud. Do we really have to deal with another billionaire with a victim’s complex who sees a parallel between economic populism and Nazis?

Apparently so.

If this sounds familiar, it was just two months ago that venture capitalist Tom Perkins caused a stir in a Wall Street Journal letter, arguing that the “progressive war on the American one percent” is comparable to Nazi genocide. “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930,” he wrote, “is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

He later said he regretted the Kristallnacht reference, but nevertheless believed his point had merit.

Despite the controversy surrounding Perkins’ bizarre concerns, Home Depot’s Ken Langone apparently decided to embrace the exact same message.

This shouldn’t be necessary, but as a rule, Nazi comparisons in domestic political debates are a bad idea. But they’re an especially egregious mistake when they’re rooted in a ridiculous fantasy.

Whether Langone understands this or not, the scope of contemporary economic populism is often quite narrow. In a political context, it tends to focus on stagnant wages, regressive tax policies, and safeguards against the worst of Wall Street excesses. As a policy matter, we’re generally talking about a higher minimum wage, extended unemployment benefits, food stamps, access to affordable medical care, and lately, expanded access to overtime compensation.

Billionaires may have substantive disagreements with these concerns and their proposed remedies, but to see them as somehow similar to Nazi genocide is more than a little twisted.

The more annoying phenomenon isn’t an American mainstream that believes the wealthy can afford to pay a little more in taxes, but rather, coddled billionaires benefiting from a modern-day Gilded Age feeling sorry for themselves.

As we talked about in January, it’s comparable in a way to a curious strain of political correctness. The more progressive talk about the concentration of wealth at the very top, tax rates, poverty, and stagnant wages, the more some of the very wealthy tell each other, “Oh my God, they may be coming to get us.”

If liberals would only stop talking about economic justice, maybe the richest among us wouldn’t have their feelings hurt.

Or maybe billionaires should just let go of this fantasy, stop seeing themselves as victims, and abandon the disgusting notion that American liberals have something in common with Hitler because they’re concerned with the consequences of growing economic inequality.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 18, 2014

March 19, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Rising Christie Panic”: How Bad Does The GOP Need Chris Christie? Really Bad

Well, well, well, today is an interesting day: it’s Chris Christie’s re-inauguration day. It was just two weeks ago, a little more, that this was going to be a day of shimmering triumph. I was just reading this CNN dispatch, from January 6, that talks about how the governor is planning on starting his day at a black church (whose reverend presided over Whitney Houston’s funeral) and ending it at Ellis Island. There’s nary a word in it about bridges and subpoenas.

Back then, today was supposed to be the official beginning of the slow and ineluctable ascent to the White House. He didn’t have to do or prove anything in this putative second term. Lose a little weight, maybe. But otherwise, he was on the glide path to the GOP nomination, not that Rand Paul and others wouldn’t have something to say about it, but the party establishment and most of the big money all set to gather around Christie and make sure that he didn’t have to spend too much time crossing swords with the crazies.

Now? Things are a little different, aren’t they? I trust you’re enjoying the Christie panic among Republican establishment types as much as I am. That New York Times story on Sunday, with big boosters like Home Depot’s Kenneth Langone fretting publicly that he really must surround himself with better people (so it’s their fault!), combined with the cable damage-control efforts by the likes of Rudy Giuliani, really shows the extent to which the party big shots have been counting on Christie to save them.

They know deep down that there isn’t a single other figure in their party who can come within yodeling distance of 270 electoral votes. Certainly not against Hillary Clinton. Against her, the rest of them max out at around 180, which would constitute the biggest wipeout since Bill Clinton thumped Bob Dole in 1996 (379-159). Imagine Republicans waking up on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 and reading: “Not in 20 years—in fact not since her husband trounced Bob Dole in his anti-climatic reelection campaign—has a Democrat won so lopsided a victory.”

Of course Clinton might not run, and that changes the math. But if you’re a Republican, you have to assume she will. The Seahawks aren’t watching film thinking that Peyton Manning is going to be benched on Feb. 2. And Republicans know that without their man Chris, they’re finished. (I suppose there’s a Jeb Bush contingent, which pointedly does not include his mother, but recent polls show Jeb trailing Hillary almost as much as the others.) Eight more years in the wilderness.

The fact that the GOP establishment needs to come face-to-face with is that they have no one to blame for this but themselves. They’ve reached the point where they almost have to have a Northeasterner like Christie to run for president, just as they had to settle for Romney last time. They’ve let their party go so far off the deep end that practically no Republican officeholder from any other region of the country could appeal to enough moderates in enough purple and blue states to win back the territory the party ceded to the Democrats in the last two elections.

Remember: the Republicans come into the next presidential election with 206 reliable electoral votes from states their nominees have won at least four of the last six elections. The Democrats’ corresponding number is 257 (just 13 shy of the victory threshold). These tallies leave five states on the table: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. And I’m not even sure if, with Clinton in the race, if the last three could even be called purple anymore. The Republicans have a lot of territory to reclaim.

They were, and I suppose still are, hoping that Christie could win it back for two reasons. First, and more obviously, he’d give them back the White House. But second, a Christie presidential win could paper over the profound and disturbing problems with today’s GOP. This is a party deeply in need of an internal thrashing of heads to pull it out of loony-land and back toward the center. Republican grandees know this, of course, but they’d much rather not have to go through this civil war. Indeed, the war could be cleansing enough that the party splits into two. Only Christie can save them from that possibility. The party would just become whatever Christie wanted it to be, and the Big Conversations could all be shelved.

Pretty high stakes. So the establishment isn’t going to give up on Christie easily. And of course he can enjoy the benefit in these next weeks and months of becoming a more sympathetic figure to the hard right than he’s ever been, because all he has to do to please that crowd is carry on about how the East Coast liberal media are trying to do him in. And it may just work.

But ultimately, facts are facts. And if the facts finish him off, and the GOP is stuck with Cruz-Rubio-Paul, or even a right-wing governor like Scott Walker, the establishment will be reaping what it’s spent the Obama years sowing: a party that cares more about feeding its base’s fever-dreams than being nationally electable. And that’s where things stand, as Christie begins a term that there’s a sporting chance he may not even be able to finish.

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, January 21, 2014

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Not A Creator Or Manufacturer In The Lot”: America’s Would-Be Aristocrats Forget The Most Important Thing About Business

To paraphrase Tolstoy, every successful small business shares the same traits. And they all begin with high-quality employees. I’m thinking of three local establishments where I’ve traded for years: an auto repair garage, a dentist’s office, and a one-size-fits-all country store where I buy cattle- and horse-feed.

Along with just about everything else the aptly-named “Toad Suck One-Stop” might conceivably carry: from crickets and minnows to motor oil, pain remedies, kitty litter and homemade sandwiches. If you get up early enough, they’ll even fix you breakfast while somebody else loads feed sacks into your truck. (Toad Suck is a place name designating a long-ago ferryboat stop on the Arkansas River.)

It’s much the same at George Jett’s auto garage down in Little Rock; also at my dentist (his name is Lamar Lane). The first thing you notice is familiar faces. People who work at these places stay for years. And they do so because they’re well-paid, earn decent benefits, and are treated respectfully. So they like their jobs, take pride in their work, and are glad to see familiar customers.

Now I’m not going to lie that I love going to the dentist. But I do like feeling among friends, even if it means hearing Dr. Lane carry on about his LSU Tigers. (Because my wife was born in Baton Rouge, where her daddy played ball, I get a double dose.)

Something else: how a business treats employees also tends to be a reliable predictor of how they treat customers. Dr. Lane does high-quality work and stands by it. If a crown breaks, he replaces it free without asking if you were shelling pecans with your teeth.

My man George Jett hires good mechanics, values their skills, and guarantees their work. If the rattle’s still there, he’ll drive the vehicle around the block and then put it back on the lift to figure out why—also at no additional charge.

Jason down at the One-Stop isn’t exactly a philanthropist — at least not where Bermuda grass hay and Canadian night-crawlers are concerned. Keeping a business with so many moving parts running requires constant attention to detail. New hires that stand out back smoking when shelves need restocking tend not to last. Loyal longtime employees won’t cut them much slack.

Gas is cheaper at the Walmart across the river in Faulkner County, but the One-Stop’s pumps stay busy. It’s the community’s unofficial town hall. If you want to know who’s looking for a lost blue heeler or how Holly’s orphaned baby raccoons are doing, it’s got to be the One-Stop.

Ordinarily, such commonplaces would hardly be worth recording. So there are friendly folks at the country store.

Who’d have thunk it?

Unless, that is, you live in the United States of America, a large proportion of whose tycoon class appears determined to drag us back to the Gilded Age.

If they gave a Scrooge McDuck Award for the nation’s greediest knucklehead, the 2013 winner would be Home Depot’s billionaire founder Kenneth Langone, a Catholic who voiced public alarm at Pope Francis’s seeming enthusiasm for the gospel of Matthew 19. That’s where Jesus observes that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The Pope didn’t cite that verse, nor discuss politics as such. However, his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium did warn against “crude and naive trust in the… sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

What, not worship money? Never mind that this is elementary Christian doctrine. Langone warned that American plutocrats don’t want to hear about it, even in church.

You may not be surprised this same worthy also regards President Obama as “petulant” and “unpresidential.” His hawklike visage appeared prominently in a Forbes photo lineup of “Anti-Obama Billionaires.”

Scrutinizing the list, I noticed that almost everybody on it made his pile either by manipulating money or squeezing minimum-wage workers dry: casino operators, real estate speculators, corporate buyout scammers, hedge fund geniuses, fast-food franchisers, big-box retailers, and Donald Trump.

Not a creator or manufacturer in the lot. This is our would-be new American aristocracy, largely bereft of — indeed actively hostile toward — the retail virtues I’ve celebrated. (None of whose practitioners necessarily share my partisan views; I’m talking morals here, not politics.)

But the good news is that according to Adam Davidson in the New York Times, old-fashioned business ethics may be making a comeback through the unlikely agency of a Turk.  According to Davidson, the going thing in corporate circles is The Good Jobs Strategy, a book by Zeynep Ton, an M.I.T. business professor.

Ton argues that what some call the “Costco” strategy of hiring better-trained, better-paid employees “will often yield happier customers, more engaged workers and—surprisingly—larger corporate profits.”

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, January 8, 2014

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Businesses, Economic Inequality | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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