Wisconsin Governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker will sign a bill Wednesdayfinalizing his controversial plan to spend $250 million in state, county and city funds — plus tens of millions more in interest and future tax breaks — on a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Walker has characterized the plan to replace the existing 27-year-old NBA arena as beneficial to taxpayers, arguing that the state would lose even more money if they declined to do so. But voices from across the political spectrum are blasting the plan, saying that pouring money into private sports stadiums is a terrible investment, and arguing the team’s Wall Street billionaire owners should shoulder the burden, since they’ll be reaping the profits.
“Government shouldn’t be in the business of financing private sports stadiums,” said the Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin. “The current deal is based on fuzzy math, complicated accounting and millions of taxpayer dollars. Whether it comes from the state, the county, the city or other authority, these are taxpayer dollars.” The Libertarian CATO Instituteadded: “Any presidential candidate who believes that taxpayer-subsidized stadiums are ‘a good deal’ shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal Treasury.”
The fact that the current Bucks arena is still $20 million in debt only bolsters their arguments.
Originally, Walker attempted to insert the $250 million arena deal into the massive two-year state budget that happened to cut $250 million from the University of Wisconsin, among othercontroversial provisions. But after outcry from both sides of the aisle, it was introduced as a separate bill, which passed after an intense barrage of lobbying.
Now, the generous public financing is raising questions about conflicts of interest.
On the very day that Walker began pushing for taxpayers to foot much of the bill for the new arena, one of the team’s owners donated $150,000 to his super PAC. The investor, Jon Hammes, has donated directly to Walker’s past campaigns, as well, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, and this year, Walker hired him as his national finance co-chairman. Another Bucks owner, Ted Kellner, gave $50,000 to Walker’s Super PAC.
Aides to Walker have denied any pay-for-play connection, noting that other Bucks owners havedonated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Though the state bill will become law this week, the economically depressed city of Milwaukee has yet to vote on its own portion of the financing. Workers in the city, who were unable to secure provisions in the state bill guaranteeing living wages and local hiring policies at the new arena, will now turn the pressure on both the City Council and the Bucks owners.
“There’s a real chance to make a breakthrough,” Peter Rickman with Milwaukee’s Good Jobs Alliance told ThinkProgress. “No one trusted the state government to take on this critical issue, since we’ve seen an unbroken string of five years of attacks on working class and poor people, unions, and wages. But there are still a wealth of decisions to be made the local level regarding investment in parking and infrastructure, land permits, and the surrounding commercial properties. And when public money is going to be invested in things like these large-scale projects, we need to ask, ‘Is it going to make the good jobs crisis worse, or is it going to make it better? Is it going to only create poverty-wage service sector jobs?'”
Rickman’s coalition is not only calling for an agreement that gives workers at the new stadium a living wage and the right to unionize, they’re pushing for a promise that the jobs will go to the people who live in the impoverished neighborhoods surrounding Milwaukee’s downtown.
“This used to be one of the best places in the country for African Americans families, because of the good union jobs in factors and foundries,” he explained. “Those jobs weren’t always good; workers fought to make them good. But when those jobs disappeared they were largely replaced with low-wage service sector jobs. Our fight right now is to continue the history of turning bad jobs into good jobs.”
Except, perhaps, when it comes to the machines they use to record their votes.
According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson has found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies.
Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true.
Clarkson’s interest in election returns was piqued by a 2012 paper released by analysts Francois Choquette and James Johnson showing the same pattern of election returns, which favor establishment Republican candidates in primaries and general elections. The irregularities are isolated to precincts that use “Central Tabulator” voting machines — machines that have previously been shown to be vulnerable to hacking. The effects are significant and widespread: According to their analysis, Mitt Romney could have received over a million extra votes in the 2012 Republican primary, mostly coming at the expense of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. President Obama also ceded significant votes to John McCain due to this irregularity, as well.
While Clarkson has found the same statistical irregularity in a number of localities, her efforts to confirm whether they amount to fraud have been centered on Sedgwick County, Kansas, due to the locality’s use of Real Time Voting Machine Paper Tapes, which provide a paper trail that other localities don’t have. However, her efforts to verify Sedgwick County’s election returns have been repeatedly shut down.
She first requested a recount of the 2013 election, but the timeframe in which a recount could have been requested had passed. She then requested the machines’ computer records from the Sedgwick County registrar, which told her to kindly shove off and sue Secretary of State Kris Kobach if she wanted the records so badly.
When Clarkson initially filed her lawsuit requesting the paper records from the voting machines, her suit was denied because a judge ruled that the paper records constituted ballots, shielding them from the state’s open records law. This ruling is suspect at best, given that the paper records do not have voters’ names assigned to them; they only record when and how a ballot was cast for recount purposes.
She then sought a court order giving her access to a sample of voting records in order to check voting machines’ error rates. This order was ignored by the Secretary of State’s office, despite their being legally required to respond to her within 30 days. The office later said that they didn’t realize they had received her request.
Given Kansas’s professed diehard commitment to combatting election fraud, one would think that they would be all for analysis into whether the integrity of their elections have been compromised. Apparently you’d be wrong.
And W.’s administration, filled with several officials who had built careers on opposing the advances of civil rights, went to work to fix that.
Ari Berman’s new book Give Us the Ballot, which is being released on Tuesday — just two days before the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act — tells of the rise and what could be the fall of America’s second reconstruction. It’s the story of a revolution that begins in a nation where black women and men literally had to risk their lives to overcome hurdles to register and vote. It spans five decades in which a singularly successful piece of temporary legislation found a permanent foothold to help ground an expansion of the right to vote in places it had been denied for nearly all of American history. And it ends after the election of the first black president inspired a conservative movement rebuilt on a Southern Strategy to strike a blow to the “crown jewel of the civil rights movement” by again shrinking the most fundamental right in a democracy.
The through line of Berman’s inspiring but gut-wrenching history of the last century’s struggle for voting rights is the life of John Lewis, the youngest speaker at 1963’s March On Washington and current congressmember from Georgia. Lewis was beaten in Selma and has been a witness to or an active participant in every effort to expand ballot access in the last five decades. And his testimony provides the most stirring indictment of the right wing’s mission to retain power over a “coalition of the ascendant” with legislation that exists only to discourage the votes of minorities, students, and the poor.
You need to read this book to understand what has been won and what we risk losing. But to get a sample of the assaults on the right to vote in what he calls “counterrevolution,” here are 5 of the worst attacks on voting rights from the right since George W. Bush quite literally took office.
1. Ohio 2004. The only reason the 2000 election even ended up in the Supreme Court was because Florida’s purge of the voting rolls left 12,000 citizens, 44 percent of them African-American, unable to vote. “We did think it was outcome determinative,” the Civil Rights Commission reported. Democrats went into 2004 determined to not forget what had happened in Florida. But on Election Day in 2004, history repeated itself, Berman suggests.
Republicans in Ohio didn’t need to purge voting rolls or stop the count, they just needed to make sure that John Kerry’s voters didn’t have easy access to the polls. “Overwhelmingly Democratic precincts in Columbus received seventeen fewer voting machines in 2004 than 2000, while heavily Republican precincts got eight more machines.” The result? Democrats had to wait hours longer to vote than Republicans. In the end, an estimated 174,000 Ohioans left their lines before voting. Bush won the state by 118,000 votes.
2. Bush’s Department of Justice fires U.S. Attorneys for not inventing voter fraud. Beginning in 2002, the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General John Ashcroft, was on a mission to find voter fraud — while massive mortgage and securities fraud that would lead to the financial crisis went largely unattended. In the end all they proved was that they’d been wasting their time. Of more than 300 million votes cast, they’d nailed 86 convictions. Not a single case involved voter impersonation or had swung an election. Meanwhile administration officials helped suppress an Ohio State/Rutgers University study that found voter ID laws reduced Latino turnout by 10 percent and black and Asian-American turnout by 6 percent in 2004. In other words, they worked just as conservatives had designed them to. Republican donors refused to accept that there was no evidence to justify new voting restrictions and demanded that someone be punished for not finding it. After the 2006 election, respected U.S. Attorneys David Iglesias — the basis for the character Tom Cruise played in A Few Good Men — and John McKay were forced out of their jobs for failing to indict anyone for fraud Republicans were sure existed.
“It’s very frightening, and it doesn’t exist,” Iglesias said, comparing voting fraud to the bogeyman parents say is in the closet to keep kids in bed. “U.S. Attorneys have better things to do with their time than chasing voting fraud phantoms.”
3. Trying to steal the 2012 election — and failing.If Bush losing the popular vote proved access to the polls was a problem, Obama’s landslide election had proven it had become an epidemic. In 2011 and 2012, 27 new laws in 19 states, nearly all Republican, put new limits on voting. Voter ID laws backed by The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were introduced in 37 states, all nearly identical. In addition, five states — including the two crucial swing states with the worst records of voting integrity, Ohio and Florida — cut early voting time. The Department of Justice used Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and counties to pre-clear all changes to voting laws, to prevent the most egregious attempts to suppress the vote. But if 2012 had been as close as 2004, as many suggested it would be, it wouldn’t have mattered. Voters in Florida reported that they were forced to wait several hours and often make two trips to the polls in order to vote. But a backlash to the new restrictions so baldly targeted at minorities resulted in their turnout rising over the 2008 election. For the first time ever, a higher percentage of black voters showed up at the polls than white.
4. Gutting the Voting Rights Act.A major subplot in Berman’s book is Chief Justice John Roberts’ passion for limiting voting rights. And ironically, President Obama’s re-election helped him build that majority he needed to do it. In his majority decision for Shelby County v. Holder, Roberts praised the law, which he had claimed was constitutional during his confirmation hearing. “But history did not end in 1965,” he wrote. Deploying the logic of “equal sovereignty” that had not been used by the Court since the Dred Scott decision deprived all black people of citizenship, he gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by throwing out the formula used in Section 4. His argument was the formula, which allows for state counties that show a strong commitment to voting rights to opt out, was not reflective of current realities.
“These men never stood in unmovable lines,” John Lewis wrote in his reaction to the decision. “They were never denied the right to participate in the democratic process. They were never beaten, jailed, run off their farms or fired from their jobs. No one they knew died simply trying to register to vote. They are not the victims of gerrymandering or contemporary unjust schemes to maneuver them out of their constitutional rights.”
5. Shelby opens the voter suppression floodgates. The speciousness of Roberts’ argument was proven by how several of the states freed from Section 5 immediately reacted to its gutting. Texas immediately put its voter ID law into effect. Pre-Shelby this had been blocked because over half a million Latinos lacked ID and might have to pay, adjusted for inflation, more than the poll taxes that had been outlawed by the VRA, just to secure the papers needed. North Carolina was already in the process of enacting the worst set of voter suppression laws since Reconstruction. After Shelby, it toughened its voter ID law to make it more restrictive than Texas’. Voters in 14 states faced new restrictions during the 2014 elections, the first without the full protection of the VRA since 1965 and, coincidentally, the election with the worst turnout since before World War II ended.
Our voting rights landscape, Berman notes, now resembles the period before 1965. The first Reconstruction fell to violence legitimized by the Supreme Court. Whether our second reconstruction meets the same demise depends on the enduring strength of the remaining sections of the law, and the hopes of fixing it before conservatives construct permanent legislative and judicial majorities that make it possible. And while demographics may be on the side of the ascendant, the cunning effectiveness of a movement so delusional that it can only process failure as fraud presents a fearsome opposition.
“How many of you are going to leave here and remember the blood of the martyrs?” William J. Barber, the architect of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays movement that rose up in part to oppose the right’s attack on voting rights, asked a crowd in 2014.
On July 28th,Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an afterthought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:
"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."
He was then cut off by the program, though that statement by Carter should have been the start of the program, not its end. (And the program didn't end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth -- something for which he's qualified.)
So: was this former president's provocative allegation merely his opinion? Or was it actually lots more than that? It was lots more than that.
Only a single empirical study has actually been done in the social sciences regarding whether the historical record shows that the United States has been, during the survey's period, which in that case was between 1981 and 2002, a democracy (a nation whose leaders represent the public-at-large), or instead an aristocracy (or 'oligarchy') -- a nation in which only the desires of the richest citizens end up being reflected in governmental actions. This study was titled "Testing Theories of American Politics,"and it was published by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in the journalPerspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association in September 2014. I had summarized it earlier, on 14 April 2014, while the article was still awaiting its publication.
The headline of my summary-article was "U.S. Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy Says Scientific Study." I reported: "The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's 'news' media)." I then quoted the authors' own summary: "The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
The scientific study closed by saying: "In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule--at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes." A few other tolerably clear sentences managed to make their ways into this well-researched, but, sadly, atrociously written, paper, such as: "The preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of 'affluent' citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do." In other words, they found: The rich rule the U.S.
Their study investigated specifically "1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change," and then the policy-follow-ups, of whether or not the polled public preferences had been turned into polices, or, alternatively, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy on the given matter, irrespective of what the public had wanted concerning it.
The study period, 1981-2002, covered the wake of the landmark 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which had started the aristocratic assault on American democracy, and which seminal (and bipartisan) pro-aristocratic court decision is described as follows by wikipedia: It "struck down on First Amendment grounds several provisions in the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The most prominent portions of the case struck down limits on spending in campaigns, but upheld the provision limiting the size of individual contributions to campaigns. The Court also narrowed, and then upheld, the Act's disclosure provisions, and struck down (on separation of powers grounds) the make-up of the Federal Election Commission, which as written allowed Congress to directly appoint members of the Commission, an executive agency."
Basically, the Buckley decision, and subsequent (increasingly partisan Republican) Supreme Court decisions, have allowed aristocrats to buy and control politicians.
Already, the major 'news' media were owned and controlled by the aristocracy, and 'freedom of the press' was really just freedom of aristocrats to control the 'news' -- to frame public issues in the ways the owners want. The media managers who are appointed by those owners select, in turn, the editors who, in their turn, hire only reporters who produce the propaganda that's within the acceptable range for the owners, to be 'the news' as the public comes to know it.
But, now, in the post-Buckley-v.-Valeo world, from Reagan on (and the resulting study-period of 1981-2002), aristocrats became almost totally free to buy also the political candidates they wanted. The 'right' candidates, plus the 'right' 'news'-reporting about them, has thus bought the 'right' people to 'represent' the public, in the new American 'democracy,' which Jimmy Carter now aptly calls "subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors."
Carter -- who had entered office in 1977, at the very start of that entire era of transition into an aristocratically controlled United States (and he left office in 1981, just as the study-period was starting) -- expressed his opinion that, in the wake now of the two most extreme pro-aristocratic U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever (which areCitizens United in 2010, and McCutcheon in 2014), American democracy is really only past tense, not present tense at all -- no longer a reality.
He is saying, in effect, that, no matter how much the U.S. was a dictatorship by therich during 1981-2002 (the Gilens-Page study era), it's far worse now.
"A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that have fueled the rise of super PACs. Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs."
The Times study shows that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly advantaged by the recent unleashing of big-corporate money power. All of the evidence suggests that though different aristocrats compete against each other for the biggest chunks of whatever the given nation has to offer, they all compete on the same side against the public, in order to lower the wages of their workers, and to lower the standards for consumers' safety and welfare so as to increase their own profits (transfer their costs and investment-losses onto others); and, so, now, the U.S. is soaring again toward Gilded Age economic inequality, perhaps to surpass the earlier era of unrestrained robber barons. And, the Times study shows: even in the Democratic Party, the mega-donations are going to only the most conservative (pro-corporate, anti-public) Democrats. Grass-roots politics could be vestigial, or even dead, in the new America.
The question has become whether the unrestrained power of the aristocracy is locked in this time even more permanently than it was in that earlier era. Or: will there be yet another FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to restore a democracy that once was? Or: is a president like that any longer even possible in America?
As for today's political incumbents: they now have their careers for as long as they want and are willing to do the biddings of their masters. And, then, they retire to become, themselves, new members of the aristocracy, such as the Clintons have done, and such as the Obamas will do. (Of course, the Bushes have been aristocrats since early in the last century.)
WASHINGTON -- A new oligarchic era of American politics came into full view on Friday, as super PACs disclosed fundraising details showing billionaires bankrolling the 2016 presidential race to an unprecedented degree.
The unlimited-money super PACs account for one-third of all federal election funds raised in the first half of 2015 -- up from 4 percent at this time in the last presidential election. Three-quarters of all super PAC money came from more than 500 wealthy donors, corporations and unions in contributions above $100,000. More than half the money in the presidential race so far -- to super PACs and to campaigns -- came from donors who have given at least $100,000.
For the first time in more than a century, the majority of funding for a presidential election is coming in six-figure or larger checks from corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The presidential campaigns, limited to a maximum of $5,400 from a single donor, raised a combined $128 million. Super PACs supporting those candidates pulled in $260 million, with $208 million from those giving $100,000 or more.
“The 2016 presidential candidates and their individual-candidate Super PACs are wiping out the nation’s anti-corruption candidate contribution limits,” Democracy 21 president and longtime campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer said in a statement. “In doing so, the presidential candidates and the Super PACs supporting them are creating the kind of system that the Supreme Court has described as an inherently corrupt system.”
The dramatic shift to a campaign finance system built upon outsized contributions of the wealthy and their businesses comes five years after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision opened the door to unlimited electoral spending by corporations, unions and, individuals so long as it remained independent of candidates.
Overall, super PACs raised $314 million through the end of June, compared with $26 million at the same time in 2011. More than 500 donors have given at least $100,000, for a total of $238 million -- 75 percent all super PAC donations.
The super PAC expansion appears likely to take over much of the political fundraising system, especially at the presidential level.
Super PACs Through June 30, 2011 -- A Small Slice Of Fundraising
Super PACs Through June 30, 2015 -- One-Third Of Fundraising
As an oligarchy of campaign contributors has begun to dominate political fundraising, opposition is mounting, with activists calling for campaign finance reform and a rejection of super PAC politics. In Iowa, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats called Iowa Pays the Price are spotlighting the influx of big money into their state to bring attention to the issue. A group called the New Hampshire Rebellion is calling attention to the trend in the nation’s first presidential primary state.
"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system," Carter said in a radio interview July 28. "Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president."
Numerous candidates have obliterated the requirement that their super PACs operate independently, by directly coordinating with the groups and raising money for them. Republican Jeb Bush personally raised $103 million for his super PAC during a six-month period when he declared that he was not officially running for president.
Bush raised a combined $114 million, including his official campaign and his super PAC. Of that, 63 percent came from donors giving $100,000 or more. Twenty-four of Bush’s super PAC donors gave $1 million or more.
Much of Bush’s money came from a vast pool of large donors. Unlike the rest of the Republican field, Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC collected $100,000-plus donations from about 300 individual donors. His donor list includes more than 1,000 people, corporations or political committees that gave at least $10,000.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) racked up 71 percent of his super PAC and campaign fundraising from big donors, almost all of it from three million-dollar contributors: $15 million from the fracking Wilks family, $11 million from New York hedge fund executive Robert Mercer, and $10 million from Texas private equity investor Toby Negeubauer.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's (R) campaign and super PAC raised 60 percent of their combined total from six-figure donors, most from million-dollar contributors. He raised $5 million from his longtime personal funder, luxury car dealer Norman Braman, $3 million from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, $2.5 million from a thoroughbred horse stable owned by Benjamin Leon and $2 million from the Israeli-American wife of the Marvel Entertainment CEO, Laura Perlmutter.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) hasn't reported any fundraising for his official campaign. But two unlimited money groups working for him had raised $26 million. Those groups raised 77 percent of their money from donors giving more than six figures. Like other candidates, Walker's groups were predominantly funded by a few million-dollar checks, including $5 million from Wisconsin roofing billionaire Diane Hendricks, $5 million from Chicago Cubs owners Marlene and Joe Ricketts, $2.5 million from Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, and $1 million from Access Industries, a company run by billionaire Len Blavatnik.
New Day for America, a group that has since converted into a super PAC, supports Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and raised more than $11 million, with 86 percent from those giving more than $100,000. Four gave $1 million.
The same can be said for nearly every candidate on down the line: Six-figure donors fueled 85 percent of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) super PAC fundraising; 62 percent for two groups backing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; 83 percent for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) groups; 83 percent for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) super PAC; more than 90 percent for three groups supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.); and 62 percent for former tech CEO Carly Fiorina’s super PAC.
Some big billionaire names were absent from the list of Republican presidential candidate megadonors, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and the industrialists Charles and David Koch.
While the big-money race on the Republican side of the presidential campaign is most intense, it's not absent from the Democratic Party. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s super PAC, Priorities USA Action, a hand-me-down from President Barack Obama, raised $15.6 million, with 99 percent of it coming from $100,000-plus donors. Her group raised nine $1 million checks from George Soros, Haim and Cheryl Saban, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Herbert Sandler, Donald Sussman, a union for plumbers and pipefitters, and a union-backed political group.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) eschews the big-money super PAC race. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) Generation Forward raised $290,000.
Large super PAC fundraising also occurred outside the presidential race.
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer donated $5 million to his personal super PAC, NextGen Climate Action Committee. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers each gave more than $1 million to their own super PACs. Singer, who so far has not put his chips down in the presidential race, gave more than $1 million to his super PAC in support of Republicans who favor gay marriage (of which there are very few). And then there’s Cruz’s benefactor, Mercer, who gave $1 million to a super PAC controlled by the neoconservative former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton.
A new super PAC launched by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to support his Republican majority pulled in three $1 million donations, from Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus and Singer.