As Mother Jones reported yesterday, speaking at a private fundraiser in Florida this May, Mitt Romney expressed his disdain for "the 47 percent" of Americans who are "dependent upon government," "believe that they are victims," and "will vote for the president no matter what." The event was held at the Boca Raton home of private equity manager Marc Leder, who has donated $225,000 to the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future and $63,330 to the Romney Victory PAC. Employees of his firm, Sun Capital Partners, have given more than $970,000 to the Romney campaign and its related PACs in this election cycle (including donations from spouses).
So who else was on hand for Romney's "off the cuff" remarks at Leder's spread on May 17? According to the TC Palm, 150 people attended the $50,000-per-plate event. The guest list hasn't been made public, but some possible attendees can be picked out of campaign finance records.
A search for Florida-based donors brings up more than 30 people who gave $50,000 to the Romney Victory PAC between May 1 and May 17:
A broader search for big Florida donors suggests some more contenders. For example, Bill Bain, the retired founder of Bain & Company and Bain Capital, who lives in Naples, gave $50,000 to the Romney campaign PAC on April 25, less than a month before the fundraiser. Might he have driven across the state to hear Romney talk in Boca Raton? Perhaps, but the Leder event was just one of several fundraising events Romney attended in Florida in this time period, including another in Boca the same day.
We'll update this post as we try to confirm these and any additional names.
Update: The complete transcript of Romney's remarks provides additional clues about who was there. A few names are mentioned, starting with one "Hilary":
Romney: And by the way, I am serious about the food. Bring that…clear the place, but Hilary has to eat her beets. [Audience laughs.]
Was this directed at Hilary Ross, a Palm Beach resident who gave $75,800 to the Romney Victory PAC two days before the event? (Her husband Wilbur gave the same amount on the same day and had previously given $50,000 in late April.) Or was it Hillary Krouse, a Boca Raton resident who gave $73,300 two days earlier? She's the wife of Rodger Krouse, the business partner of the event's host, Sun Capital Partners chief executive Marc Leder.
For some perspective, we've compiled data on the average wages of elementary-school, middle-school, and high school teachers in more than 300 metropolitan areas. As you'll see, most teachers make more than $45,320, the average yearly wage for all occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet the range of what they earn varies widely: Elementary-school teachers in Jefferson City, Missouri, earn an average of $37,090; their colleagues in Long Island, New York, earn an average of $90,560.
Click on a city on the map below for more information on teachers' average wages within its greater metropolitan area. Note: Earnings do not include benefits.
Platforms' planks come and go: For instance, accusing Democrats of "work[ing] unceasingly to achieve their goal of national socialism" (1952), increasing federal arts funding (1976), or calling for biodegradable plastics (1992). But some core themes remain the same. For a quick look at how Republican platforms have changed in the past seven decades, I examined some of the party platforms kept on file with the University of California-Santa Barbara's American Presidency Project. A few things that stood out:
Platforms are getting longer: The 1948 GOP platform clocked in at a tidy 2,739 words. By 2004, it had bloated to more than 41,000 words. This year's is a little slimmer, but it's hardly a quick read.
Heroes and foes come and go: George W. Bush has received more love (relative to the length of party platforms) than even Ronald Reagan, yet he went from being mentioned 250 times in 2000 to being mentioned 3 times in passing this year. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have been popular bogeymen. Barack Obama, however, is mentioned only 9 times this year, usually in the phrase "Obamacare." Reagan is also mentioned 9 times this year.
Complaning about taxes never grows old: The Republican party seems more tax-obsessed than ever, yet unfair taxation has been a constant theme in its platforms for decades. Debt and God also get regular mentions. Communism, once a top international and domestic concern, is all but forgotten.
Richard Aoki at a 1968 Black Panthers rallyCalifornia WatchThe Center for Investigative Reporting has a fascinating new story about Richard Aoki, a '60s Berkeley activist who joined the Black Panthers, helped arm the militant group, and became known as a fierce radical—all while working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This revelation has upended the reputation of the man Panthers cofounder Bobby Seale praised as "a Japanese radical cat." It also adds another chapter to the FBI's long history of using undercover informants to surveil extremists, both real and imagined.
An FBI agent first recruited Aoki in the late 1950s and asked him to gather information on various leftist groups. "The activities that he got involved in was because of us using him as an informant," his original FBI handler told reporter Seth Rosenfeld. Aoki went on to report on the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Young Socialist Alliance, and the Vietnam Day Committee before joining the Black Panthers in 1967.
He became the organization's most prominent nonblack member and was named "Field Marshall at large." Yet as informant "T-2," Aoki was secretly reporting on its activities. His career as an FBI asset is recorded in documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests. Rosenfeld told me that the documents do not mention whether the Feds asked Aoki to join the Panthers.
Aoki also helped arm the Panthers. None of Rosenfeld's FBI reports mention that Aoki gave weapons to the group, so it's not clear if he did so with the agency's knowlege or blessing. In his memoir, Seale recalled that he and fellow Panther Huey Newton had prodded Aoki to give them guns from his personal collection: "We told him that if he was a real revolutionary he better go on and give them up to us because we needed them now to begin educating the people to wage a revolutionary struggle. So he gave us an M-1 and a 9mm." Either way, Aoki later took credit for contributing to "the military slant to the organization's public image"—an image that, Rosenfeld writes, eventually "contributed to fatal confrontations between the Panthers and the police."