mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“5 Down-And-Dirty Tricks Ted Cruz Uses To Fool Voters”: Trusted, As Transparent A Ploy As The Rest Of His Campaign

Ted Cruz is nasty. Ted Cruz is mean. Ted Cruz is “a huge asshole.”

Ted Cruz is a pretty horrible human being.

That’s the consensus, at least, from notables like former President George W. Bush and and Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of the coalition against ISIS.

Cruz has had to wheedle his family to get them to acquiesce – on camera! – that he’s a good guy, even though everyone from his former college roommate to his senatorial colleagues have whispered and shouted that the American public should stay far, far away from this loathsome, odious creature. (Even his “friends” in the Senate don’t want him to be president.)

Now, he’s tasked with saving us from The Donald — a role that, though potentially heroic, has managed only to force Cruz into a spotlight under which his seediness seems to have adopted a new shine. If Donald Trump is America’s premier insult comic, Ted Cruz is its greatest scoundrel. He lies, deceives, and swindles some more. To wit:

He lied about Ben Carson exiting the race
Dr. Ben Carson decided to not to campaign in New Hampshire and South Carolina after the Iowa Caucus, preferring to return to Florida to (yes, really) get a change of clothes. The Cruz campaign, as detailed by Politifact, took this nugget – that Carson was taking “a very unusual” travel detour – and spun it so that Carson was “taking some time off” from the campaign.

In a series of tweets, emails and voicemails  (and with some assistance from Iowa Congressman Steve King) the campaign inferred and then explicitly stated that Carson had dropped out of the race, which was not the case, and urged caucus-goers to “not waste a vote” on Carson, but instead to vote for Cruz.

Although Cruz apologized, his campaign did acknowledge that “it made a coordinated effort to spread the story.” He ended up winning Iowa, leaving Donald Trump to accuse him of stealing the election.

He used false data and social pressure to trick Iowa residents into voting for him
In another play for Iowa Caucus voters, the Cruz campaign sent out mailers meant to look like official documents warning voters that their participation – or lack thereof – would be recorded and sent to their neighbors, in addition to assigning a grade that matched up with their alleged voting history. Using well-known political science research, the mailers (as seen below), preyed upon voters’ fears of social pressure to get them to vote.

.@TedCruz campaign mailed #IowaCaucus voters misleading “violation” https://t.co/PayPAJ84aR https://t.co/StcKy2N0F8 pic.twitter.com/hlzXJV8fIT

— Alex Howard (@digiphile) January 31, 2016

Of course, the “grades” listed on the mailers were all low scores — most of them “F”s:

Man, @TedCruz is such a scumbag (and so is his campaign staffer who thought this was a good idea) #iacaucus pic.twitter.com/5ybjhbZdA5

— super delegator (@LoganJames) January 30, 2016

The mailers used fraudulent “data” – the Cruz campaign made up percentages – and erroneously attributed this “data” to the Iowa Secretary of State and county election clerks, which prompted Iowa’s Secretary of State, Paul D. Pate, to correct the record:

Accusing citizens of Iowa of a “voting violation” based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act. There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa Caucuses.

Additionally, the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office never “grades” voters. Nor does the Secretary of State maintain records related to Iowa Caucus participation. Caucuses are organized and directed by the state political parties, not the Secretary of State, nor local elections officials. Also, the Iowa Secretary of State does not “distribute” voter records. They are available for purchase for political purposes only, under Iowa Code.” – Paul D. Pate, Iowa Secretary of State

While the tactic has been used before – and an online version of it is being used in China – Cruz takes it to another level. And it’s not something he apologizes for.

He mailed pre-filled “checks” and asked recipients to match them
According to the Huffington Post, the Cruz campaign mailed fake checks across the country to prospective voters meant to entice them to donate money by saying their contribution would be “matched” by “a group of generous supporters.” It was misleading enough for one group to file a complaint with the state attorney general for allegedly violating state law.

The Intercept reports that this tactic “is either impossible, illegal, or a scam,” since individual donations are legally capped at $2,700 for both the primary and general elections ($5,400 total) and the Cruz campaign would need a lot of “generous supporters” willing and able to “match” donations.

That means that the Cruz campaign either disregarded campaign finance law or is funneling all of the money they receive into a super PAC – which would also be illegal. “Super PACs … are allowed to accept unlimited contributions as long as they don’t coordinate directly with campaigns,” reporters Dan Froomkin and Zaid Jilani wrote. The law is explicit in what that means: Candidates running for national office “are not allowed to solicit more than $5,000 in Super PAC contributions from any one person.”

The Cruz campaign, however, is relentless. One mailer with a fake check isn’t enough – there are followups upon followups upon followups – post-its and emails and emails and emails and emails. Cruz tries to come across as casual: The sender’s line is doctored to make it appear that the message was quickly sent from his iPhone. But the barrage of emails instead comes off as desperate, edging on creepy.

His app takes your data and tries to sell your friends onto the “Cruz Crew”
Ted Cruz knows how to work Big Data. On his app, available on both the App Store and Google Play, users have to opt-out of sharing sensitive data, which includes their contact information and their location. This makes it easy for the campaign to amass a trove of sensitive and lucrative information, which it shares with other organizations and analytics companies to better finesse the messages it sends to potential supporters and voters.

The analytics company behind the Cruz operation, Cambridge Analytica, is funded by Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund investor, computer scientist, and the fourth-largest Republican donor in 2014 – and a major backer of Cruz. Mercer has donated at least $11 million to Cruz-related super PACs.

The campaign also uses sophisticated gaming techniques to entice app users to participate, allotting points for specific actions, like sharing messages on social media.

Cambridge Analytica’s formidable system analyzes billions of data points – from voter rolls to Facebook likes, keychain reward programs to Amazon purchases – and then sorts users into one of five personality types, which they use to target messages to the user’s lifestyle, interests, and backgrounds. These discoveries are shared among different departments within the organization, so that a canvasser knocking on doors already knows what the little old lady in the pink house on the corner really purchases at Target.

He photoshopped a beaming Marco Rubio shaking hands with Barack Obama
The Cruz campaign published a website targeting rival Marco Rubio with a doctored photo of him shaking hands with President Obama, captioned with text suggesting it was related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

When challenged, the Cruz campaign merely shrugged their shoulders, saying it was no big deal; they even gave away their process: “We googled ‘two people supporting amnesty,’” said campaign spokesperson Brian Phillips in an email to Politico.

Ted Cruz is sneaky and smart, and he’s using all the techniques and terabytes he can to stomp his way to the presidency. He likes to stand behind banners that say Trusted. But to those paying attention, the phrase is as transparent a ploy as the rest of his campaign.

 

By: Stephanie Schwartz, The National Memo, February 21, 2016

February 22, 2016 Posted by | Campaign Finance Laws, Iowa Caucuses, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Ted Cruz’s Super Stingy Sugar Daddies”: Cruz’s Own Super PAC Hedging Against Him

Ted Cruz’s coterie of supportive super PACs are crawling with cash—but it’s not doing him much good at the moment.

The Republican presidential contender, a first-term senator from Texas, has an unusual network of super PACs in place to boost his White House prospects. Instead of giving his imprimatur to one main super PAC, which is the norm, Cruz has four officially sanctioned super PACs: Keep the Promise PAC, Keep the Promise I, Keep the Promise II, and Keep the Promise III. National Review reported that this set-up is designed to give individual billionaires and their families maximal control over how their cash gets spent.

And there’s the rub. FEC filings show that those four PACs, combined, have taken in a healthy $39 million—but only spent a teeny tiny little fraction of that on the senator’s presidential efforts. And one of the PACs actually donated to one of Cruz’s 2016 rivals.

This news comes as Cruz faces lackluster poll numbers and less than a week before the first GOP debate. RealClearPolitics’ average gives him just 5.2 percent of the vote, lagging behind fellow conservative firebrands Rand Paul and Ben Carson. And a recent Fox News poll showed his support among likely Republican primary voters got cut in half since mid-March—from 10 percent to just 4 percent.

And while Cruz’s PACs have kept their powder dry, other 2016 contenders’ backers are spending big. The Conservative Solutions Project spent seven figures on TV ads touting Sen. Marco Rubio’s record on Iran, per the Tampa Bay Times. And, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the John Kasich-backing New Day for America has already spent $1.7 million blanketing New Hampshire televisions with ads touting the Ohio governor’s record.

Candidates who aren’t running for president are getting similar boosts; Pat Toomey, a vulnerable Republican senator in Pennsylvania, is benefitting from a $1.5 million TV, direct mail, and digital video ad campaign from Concerned Veterans for America.

But Ted Cruz doesn’t seem to be getting that kind of love. And in his home state, it’s raised a few eyebrows.

“Are these people really planning to spend this money?” queried one Texas Republican insider, adding that he thought the super PACs’ gun-shy approach to spending was “bizarre.”

So while Cruz has made a host of positive headlines for the cash that his supporting super PACs have raked in, he doesn’t actually seem to have benefitted much from their largesse.

First off, there’s Keep the Promise I, a PAC that gets the bulk of its cash from billionaire investor Robert Mercer. In this quarter of the year, the PAC took in more than $11 million and spent only $536,169.90. The kicker? Of that $536,169.90, a sweet five hundred grand went to a super PAC backing Carly Fiorina—who, of course, is also running for president. Against Cruz.

CNN, which first reported on Carly’s PAC’s money, called the contribution “unusual,” which is certainly a nice way to put it. Of the remaining $36,000 that the PAC spent, $20,000 went to a D.C.-based polling company. The remaining $16,169.90 went to Bracewell and Giuliani LLP for legal consulting. So from April through July of this year, the biggest benefactor of a putatively pro-Cruz super PAC was Carly Fiorina.

“It’s Cruz’s own super PAC hedging against him before the first debate,” said the Republican insider.

Then there’s Keep the Promise II—funded solely by a $10 million donation from Toby Neugebauer, son of Rep. Randy Neugebauer—and Keep the Promise III, funded by the fracking-enriched Wilks family. Those two PACs, combined, raised $25 million this quarter. Keep the Promise II didn’t spend anything, and Keep the Promise III spent just $5,025.

Finally, there’s the Keep the Promise PAC, which doesn’t appear to be dominated by one major donor or donor family. It brought in a comparatively modest $1.8 million this quarter and spent about $97,000. Most of that went to covering legal fees, software, and media production. The PAC also spent $1,698.39 at an Austin Apple Store on a computer. This all means that while this PAC looks like it’s been busier than the other three, it’s still not doing a whole lot.

Cruz’s atypical super PAC situation was designed to give donors more control over how their money got spent. But no one anticipated that these donors would be so stingy—except when it comes to boosting a Cruz competitor.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, July 31, 2015

August 3, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Super PAC's, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Sheldon Adelson Primary”: The GOP Presidential Primary; A Brawl Of Billionaires?

There are few spectacles more absurd or horrifying (depending on your perspective) than a group of political leaders who want to be president of the United States trooping to the lair of a billionaire to genuflect before him in hopes of winning his favor — and, of course, his money.

If you’re looking for a symbol of what presidential politics has become, particularly in the Republican Party, look no further than the festival of grovelling that will occur this weekend in Las Vegas. Alex Isenstadt reports:

Before Iowa and New Hampshire, GOP candidates are competing in the Sheldon Adelson primary, and some will travel to his posh Venetian hotel in Las Vegas this weekend in hopes of winning it. But one candidate — Marco Rubio — has emerged as the clear front-runner, according to nearly a half-dozen sources close to the multibillionaire casino mogul.

In recent weeks, Adelson, who spent $100 million on the 2012 campaign and could easily match that figure in 2016, has told friends that he views the Florida senator, whose hawkish defense views and unwavering support for Israel align with his own, as a fresh face who is “the future of the Republican Party.” He has also said that Rubio’s Cuban heritage and youth would give the party a strong opportunity to expand its brand and win the White House.

Adelson came to many people’s attention when he dropped $20 million in a vain attempt to get Newt Gingrich the GOP nomination in 2012, an effort doomed by the identity of his chosen candidate. It’s a good reminder that money is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for winning the primary. I suppose there might be some level of funding that could propel even someone as ridiculous as Gingrich to victory, but whatever it is — $200 million? $500 million? — it’s more than even someone like Adelson is going to spend in a primary, particularly when there are other billionaires out there doing the same thing.

We may be about to see an unprecedented arms race among Republican plutocrats. The Koch brothers are supposedly leaning toward Scott Walker, though they haven’t made a final decision; they’ll be holding their own audition for candidates this summer. Ted Cruz is backed by a hedge fund magnate named Robert Mercer; investment manager Foster Friess will once again keep Rick Santorum funded, as he did in 2012.

But the real question isn’t whether a candidate can find the one donor that will bring him to victory, it’s what happens when the next president takes office.

All this money — not just the volume but the way it’s being moved around — is making a mockery of our already porous campaign finance laws. One of the last restrictions on funding that the Supreme Court has left standing is the limit on direct contributions to candidates. This year, if you’re a billionaire, you can only give Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign $2,700 for the primary and $2,700 for the general election, because everyone agrees it would be inherently corrupting if you could just write him a check for $1 million or $10 million or $100 million.

But that won’t stop you. Here’s what you can do. You can go over to the Right to Rise PAC, which exists in order to make Jeb Bush president, and write it a check for that $1 million. And since Jeb is not officially a candidate, he can raise money for the PAC, and plan and shape its strategy for the election. After he declares himself a candidate he will no longer be allowed to coordinate with it, but by then the preparatory work will be done.

Which is why, in an unprecedented move, Bush has decided to outsource entire sectors of his campaign to the PAC, like advertising and ground organizing, while the official campaign will do far less. It could well be the future of presidential campaign organization. Election law expert Rick Hasen explains why this is so troubling:

In the old days (think the days of the fundraising of Bush’s brother, George W. Bush), the main way of gaining influence was by becoming a campaign bundler. Bundlers not only give the maximum few thousand dollars to the candidate’s campaign; they also get friends, relatives, and acquaintances to do the same. Now, one doesn’t have to become a bundler for the campaign to curry favor: One can simply write a check for $1 million or more to Right to Rise.

By signaling that Right to Rise is his campaign arm, Jeb Bush has broken down the wall between his super PAC and his campaign committee in the eyes of donors. Preventing coordination and preserving independence was one of the last walls that were left.

The next step will be simply handing $1 million checks to candidates. Right now that’s still illegal, but campaign finance opponents will challenge those candidate contribution limits as ineffective since (the Bush campaign will show) super PACs can serve almost the same purpose. Indeed, campaign lawyer Jim Bopp (the brains behind the Citizens United lawsuit) signaled as much this week, arguing that the way to take unaccountable money out of politics is to let individuals give whatever they want directly to candidates.

I suspect Hasen is right about this: Democrats are going to say that 2016 shows we need stronger campaign finance laws, while Republicans will say 2016 shows that the laws are toothless and irrelevant, so we might as well just remove the restrictions altogether.

The candidates themselves probably aren’t too worried about getting attacked as bought and paid for. They see the benefit they’ll get from being backed by a donor like the Kochs or Adelson on the one hand, and the bad press they’ll get from seeming like they’re in the pocket of a billionaire on the other hand, and say it’s a deal worth taking. What’s a few reporters’ questions that can easily be batted away (“I’m grateful for the support of any American who shares my vision for the future”) against all that cash?

“Dark money” — cash which is channeled through shadowy groups, obscuring where it originally came from — is extremely worrisome. But this new development is something else entirely. Sure, we’ll maintain the fiction that these PACs are “independent” and therefore there’s no corrupting influence associated with that money. But if you actually believe that at the end of a campaign in which he was showered with eight or nine figures worth of casino money, President Rubio wouldn’t be particularly open to hearing what Sheldon Adelson has to say about, say, internet gambling (which the magnate has worked hard to stamp out), I’d have to wonder whether you get to drink rainbows and ride unicorns on the fantasy planet you live on.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 23, 2015

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Campaign Financing, GOP Presidential Candidates, Plutocrats, Sheldon Adelson | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Clinton Cash”: Yet Another Charles And David Koch Production

The more closely we look at Peter Schweizer — right-wing author of Clinton Cash and new best friend of the New York Times and Washington Post — the more he appears to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. Schweizer’s forthcoming book on Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation was supported by a “think tank” called the Government Accountability Institute, which has reportedly received millions from Koch-connected donor funds over the past two years.

Crooks and Liars points toward Donors Trust, the huge Koch-funded “dark-money ATM of the right,” as a key source of funding that made Schweizer’s book possible. He is, after all, the president of the Government Accountability Institute, where tax-exempt money was used to finance a couple of nasty, inaccurate political hits on President Obama during the last election cycle, almost as soon as the “non-partisan think tank” sprang up.

If that isn’t suggestive enough, here is video of Schweizer himself, delivering a February 2014 speech at the Charles Koch Institute, an “educational organization” based in Arlington, VA. Its tax-exempt activities are subsidized by the CEO of Koch Industries, Inc. — yes, that Charles Koch.

Maybe the Times and Post editors should have taken a closer look before they leaped into a deal to promote this Kochtopus production. Or did they look and not care?

Update: Not surprisingly, Media Matters for America provides further detail on Schweizer’s financing by the Koch brothers, Robert Mercer, and the right-wing billionaire political nexus.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, April 23, 2015

 

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton, Koch Brothers | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Koch Brothers Eye 2016 Favorite”: David Koch Talked About The Wisconsin Governor As If His Primary Success Was Simply Assumed

Presidential candidates are always eager to earn support from voters, but with nine months remaining until anyone casts a primary ballot, White House hopefuls have a slightly different focus at this stage in the process. As the race gets underway in earnest, the goal isn’t just to get public backing, but rather, to get support from a specific group of mega-donors.

And in the world of national Republican politics, the Koch brothers have few rivals.

Charles G. and David H. Koch, the influential and big-spending conservative donors, appear to have a favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee.

According to the New York Times’ report, David Koch talked about the Wisconsin governor as if his primary success was simply assumed: “When the primaries are over and Scott Walker gets the nomination…” he joked.

The article noted two other attendees who said they heard Koch go further, describing the Republican Wisconsinite as the candidate who should get the GOP nomination.

It’s worth emphasizing that Koch, following the Times’ reporting, issued a written statement, describing Walker as “terrific,” but stressing, “I am not endorsing or supporting any candidate for president at this point in time.”

The statement doesn’t necessarily contradict the reporting. It’s entirely possible, for example,  that the Kochs will remain officially neutral during the nominating process, while also privately acknowledging their preference for Walker while talking to allies behind closed doors.

And if that’s the case, it’s a major advantage for the far-right governor over his rivals. The Kochs not only carry an enormous wallet, they oversee a large political operation and enjoy broad credibility among conservative activists and donors.

A Koch endorsement, even if private, matters, especially as candidates search for ways to stand out in a crowded field.

That said, if the reporting is accurate and the Kochs are partial towards Walker, that doesn’t necessarily mean the governor will have the same kind of relationship with his billionaire benefactors as other recent candidates.

We’ve grown accustomed to thinking about Republicans and their billionaires as a kind of dynamic duo – we see the candidate, but we know he has a partner that’s largely responsible for bankrolling his candidacy. In 2012, it was Sheldon Adelson backing Newt Gingrich, while Foster Friess supported Rick Santorum. This year, Robert Mercer has partnered with Ted Cruz, while Norman Braman helps bankroll Marco Rubio.

Don’t expect a comparable relationship between the Kochs and Walker, at least not at this stage. If the powerful billionaire brothers intend to stay officially neutral, then Walker may look forward to the Kochs’ backing in a general election, but he’ll need others to finance his primary fight.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 21, 2015

April 22, 2015 Posted by | GOP Campaign Donors, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: