October 23, 2015

Is it bad that "Conservative PACs Attack Republicans, and It Pays"?

Eric Lipton and Jennifer Steinhauer write in the NYT about petitions like "Boot Boehner,” “Dump McConnell,” “Drop a Truth-Bomb on Kevin McCarthy,” and “Fire Paul Ryan” that come from "conservative websites and bloggers who have helped stoke a grass-roots rebellion to make Congress more conservative" and who use the petitions to raise money for their own on-going effort.
“This is clearly an organized effort and an attempt by these groups to raise money for themselves,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who added that she was the target of a similar attack during the 2013 Senate debate over gun safety legislation. “They hurt our party, they hurt our Congress and they hurt our country.”...

Campaign finance documents examined by The New York Times show that the PACs and other groups running many of these petition drives have a history of spending most of the money they raise on consulting firms, as opposed to using it to support political candidates, a stark contrast to how most PACs function.

The efforts employ similar tactics. Conservative outlets like Breitbart or The Washington Examiner are given “exclusive” advance notice of a new effort, like the “Remove John Boehner” campaign started early last year by the Tea Party Leadership Fund....
I'm puzzling over what's supposed to be bad here. What's wrong with political activity in support of an ideology and what's wrong with trying to take down politicians you oppose instead of looking for politicians to boost? Is it that the political group is able to raise funds for itself and keep its operation going rather than to use the money to get people elected? Isn't this kind of ideological activity done on both the left and the right? The only problem I can detect — and this isn't in the article — is that it works best at the political extremes: moderates and realists can't use it.

33 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

Campaign finance documents examined by The New York Times show that the PACs and other groups running many of these petition drives have a history of spending most of the money they raise on consulting firms, as opposed to using it to support political candidates

Yoo-hoo, NYT! You know that incredible data mining & voter tracking effort that the Obama administration put together, and which is now being put at the service of other Democratic candidates? That's money that was paid to "consultants"! Because, the IT guys developing those applications aren't "candidates".

Now, I would be thrilled if the Republicans, especially the Tea Party wing, are actually directed & bright enough to be working on developing such systems, but somehow I doubt it. It's probably just more of the same circle-jerk of money within the party insiders. Just to a slightly different set of insiders.

chuck said...

It's wrong because it doesn't advance the socialist cause. History can only be allowed to advance in one direction: power for the privileged. The rest of us should beg for our gruel.

Michael K said...

"Organizing For American," which decimated the moderate Democrats in 2010, could not be reached for comment.

Achilles said...

The problem with these groups is the democrats, republicans and media are trying to marginalize them, and they wont stay marginalized. Damn those stupid proles.

prairie wind said...

Republicans with money are bad.
Republican PACs with money are worse.

narciso said...

yes, the dems can spend 2-6 times what the gop did, yet that is not a problem 'with money in politics'

Ann Althouse said...

If there's a separation between the money and the actual candidates, that should be a good thing in the view of those who are worried about candidates being corrupted by money, which is the basis for all the campaign finance regulation.

eric said...

With your two comments in two days about how moderate you are, you should rename yourself "AReasonableWoman" because we all know how moderate and reasonable AReasonableMan is.

DougWeber said...

The best I have been able to deduce about this is that these people really do not want discussion. They believe they have the clearly best solutions and policies. All others are venal and mistaken. If the electorate had just the policies to look at, they would clearly choose theirs. Thus when the electorate chooses differently it must be because something has corrupted the process. Clearly this is money since that is what permits the other side to generate a discussion of the choices and since sometimes it is corrupt money, it is all suspect. This is a deep arrogance but is, I think, axiomatic for these people and informs their actions, even if they do not directly express it.

Michael K said...

"those who are worried about candidates being corrupted by money,"

Which, of course, does not include any Hillary! voters.

Rick said...

I'm puzzling over what's supposed to be bad here.

Conservatives want a better party, the left is apparently confused and cannot understand the goal. I think it says quite a bit that the party activists are so in thrall they can't even recognize reality.

There are a handful of people I credit with the analogous goal of wanting a better left, among them Professor Althouse, Connor Friedersdorf, and Mickey Kaus. But obviously there are vastly fewer of them.

Bay Area Guy said...

This isn't news. There are 2 wings in both parties, and internecine battles among sub-wings.

For the Dems, there is a hard left (Sanders, Sharpton) and a moderate left (Clinton, Webb).

For the GOP, there is a hard right (Cruz), and a moderate right (Jeb, Ryan).

This is always the case. At some point if the divisions become too strident and toxic, all it means that the other party will win. (see, election of 1968, when Democrat Wallace ran 3rd party, won several states and enabled GOP Nixon to beat Dem Humphrey 38-37).



Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
"If there's a separation between the money and the actual candidates, that should be a good thing in the view of those who are worried about candidates being corrupted by money, which is the basis for all the campaign finance regulation."

The basis for all campaign finance regulation is to transfer more power to Washington DC. By placing rules on campaign speech that are interpreted and enforced by some bureaucratic arm and the DOJ they can selectively prosecute "violations." Additionally it empowers the media organizations that almost monolithically skew left.

The IRS selectively chose which organizations to give special scrutiny to also. Giving DC more regulating power never works the way it is intended.

Ann Althouse said...

But the legal basis for permitting it is that there is potential for corruption (bribery and things close to bribery). Beyond that, it violates the freedom of speech.

cubanbob said...

Reduce the federal government by 50% and the reason for paying bribes and protection money to politicians is greatly reduced. That's campaign finance reform. Apply to state and local government as well for similar salubrious effect.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...that should be a good thing in the view of those who are worried about candidates being corrupted by money, which is the professedbasis for all the campaign finance regulation.

FIFY

But the legal basis for permitting it is that there is potential for corruption (bribery and things close to bribery). Beyond that, it violates the freedom of speech.

Violating freedom of speech is the point.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Achilles said...

Giving DC more regulating power never works the way it is intended.

Only if you believe their stated intentions are their actual intentions.

tim in vermont said...

Better to live like the Democrats where the powerful are worshiped to the point that any possible pretender to the presidency is politically destroyed so they all keep their heads low.

And the Speaker of the House can preside over massive electoral losses and maintain her leadership position.

That's the way to go.

None of this listen to the voters stuff for Dems.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Of course the comments fill up with anti-Citizens United boilerplate. Sigh.

Henry said...

This looks like fairly solid reporting to me, except where it isn't:

Yet campaign finance records show that while the group raised $14.4 million in the 2014 election cycle, only about 10 percent of that went to so-called independent expenditures to support conservative Republicans, with most of the rest going to pay staff members and consultants, including Ms. Martin, who records show was being paid $15,000 a month early last year. In the last election cycle, the organization spent four times as much on mailings, postage and email marketing as it did on these elections, the records show.

This is self-contradicting. Is the money going to salaries or mailings? As noted above, there is no reason why a PAC should explicitly move money to particular election campaigns if it can impact policy through advocacy.

The reporters have done a good job getting politicians to sound aggrieved, but they've failed to actually explain how the money is used.

traditionalguy said...

So Trump's story about the Club For Growth shake down is as real as it gets. Armed robber said your money or your political life., Trump did not say I'm still thinking.

Trump said more like, "if that's a gun in your pocket, shoot me but if its a finger then GFY." Or maybe more like McAuliffe's reply to the German surrender demand at Bastogne," Nuts!"

Trump is entertaining.

Anglelyne said...

“This is clearly an organized effort and an attempt by these groups to raise money for themselves,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who added that she was the target of a similar attack during the 2013 Senate debate over gun safety legislation. “They hurt our party, they hurt our Congress and they hurt our country.”

tfw you Ctrl-F for "lèse-majesté" or "God's anointed", and your browser doesn't return a "phrase not found".

Roy Jacobsen said...

The formula is simplicity itself:

Conservatives = Evil incarnate.
Leftists = Saints and Angels.

That is the template. That is the narrative.

Original Mike said...

"Reduce the federal government by 50% and the reason for paying bribes and protection money to politicians is greatly reduced. That's campaign finance reform."

It is, in fact, the only campaign finance reform that will ever work.

Beldar said...

All is as it's always been in this regard.

Overdrawn or overblown arguments, competing from opposite fringes, also contribute to the debate, and there is no effective way to discourage or deter them. Better arguments may indeed have a harder time generating passion, but they do benefit when overdrawn or overblown arguments create revulsion that drives some people back from the fringes.

This is true for both fringes.

M. Bouffant said...

I love it. These PACs rip off low-information paranoids to the tune of $15,000/mo. in salary, & all any of y'all can do is scream "liberal media".

By the way, all those "mailings"? There may be advocacy in them, but they are mostly pleas for more funds, to keep the message going. And the message is always "Send US more money! (Uh, to save the country from this week's imaginary threat.)"

Barnum pegged it.

Qwerty Smith said...

Old liberal CW: Vested corporate interests and establishment groups like the Chamber of Commerce exercise too much control over the GOP.

New liberal CW: How dare those tea party wackos interfere with the vested corporate interests and establishment groups like the Chamber of Commerce who are supposed to control the GOP.

Leora said...

The problem is that they don't disclose how they are spending their money. Most people wouldn't donate to an organization that disclosed that the money you send us will pay my salary so I can send out more emails.

Michael K said...

"And the message is always "Send US more money! (Uh, to save the country from this week's imaginary threat.)"

Sort of like Planned Parenthood ?

And every Dim politician ?

And AARP ?

YoungHegelian said...

@Bouffant,

I love it. These PACs rip off low-information paranoids to the tune of $15,000/mo. in salary, & all any of y'all can do is scream "liberal media".

Uhhhm, $15k times 12 is $180,000 a year. Just what do you think upper management folks of a PAC, of an association, of a decent size charity (don't get me started on the Red Cross) headquartered in the Northeast or West Coast make in salary?

Somebody who thinks that $180,000 in DC or NYC is an "exorbitant" upper-management salary needs to get out more.

Nichevo said...

And that's the whole package. Insurance, pension, etc. That's VP pay, not even director pay.

Sammy Finkelman said...

The idea (somewhat underplayed here, but that's what gets the Republicans politicians angry) is that these groups exist only to support themselves.

Such a PAC has no real worth for anyone, except the people making money from it. The New York Times wants to half make it appear, that that is all PACs.

Now if people could give more money to candidates, that would all disappear, and you'd only have aPAC when there's an actual difference of opinion with candidates.