MoJo Author Feeds: Peter Stone | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/authors/17666 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en How Newt Gingrich’s Language Guru Helped Rebrand the Kochs' Message http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/frank-luntz-helped-the-koch-brothers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For the Koch brothers' donor network, the 2012 elections were a keen disappointment. Not only did they lose what Charles Koch had famously billed as the "mother of all wars" to oust Barack Obama, but they poured some $400 million into electoral and advocacy efforts with, at best, lackluster results in federal and state races, leaving a number of their investors and operatives unhappy.</p> <p>Fast-forward to 2014, and the Koch network seems to be riding high. Having budgeted nearly $300 million for advocacy and political drives, with a bigger field operation and better data to mobilize conservative voters, the network helped the GOP capture the Senate, expand the House majority, and reelect Koch-favored politicians like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Three of the new GOP senators&mdash;Arkansas' Tom Cotton, Colorado's Cory Gardner, and Iowa's Joni Ernst&mdash;recently attended Koch policy and fundraising retreats; at the network's Dana Point, California, confab this past June, all three heaped praise on the assembled donors and Koch operatives.</p> <p>What changed? Of course, the Koch network&mdash;and the GOP generally&mdash;capitalized on public dissatisfaction with President Obama, the "six-year itch" most two-term presidents face, and a bad electoral landscape for Democratic Senate candidates. But the Kochs and their allies also learned from their past mistakes. They've used the last two years to adapt, refine, and expand their operations with an eye to sharpening their anti-big-government messages to appeal to more voters. The Koch network, one donor told me, has been laser-focused on "trying to perfect their language." For help, they have turned to an A-list of conservative political consultants, including the man best known for selling the nation on Newt Gingrich's Contract With America: pollster and spinmeister Frank Luntz.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/12/frank-luntz-helped-the-koch-brothers"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Dark Money Money in Politics The Right Top Stories Koch Brothers Mon, 08 Dec 2014 11:00:10 +0000 Peter Stone 266036 at http://www.motherjones.com This Vulture-Fund Billionaire Is the GOP's Go-To Guy on Wall Street http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/07/paul-singer-elliott-republican-fundraiser <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When Republicans make their pilgrimages to Wall Street for money to help take back the Senate next year, there may be no hotter ticket than a party at Paul Singer's. The 69-year-old <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/paul-singer/" target="_blank">hedge fund billionaire</a>'s co-op apartment at the Beresford, a hulking Italian Renaissance building on Central Park West whose celebrity residents have included <a href="http://abovethelaw.com/2013/01/lawyerly-lairs-former-partner-purchases-holbrookes-home/#more-217228" target="_blank">Jerry Seinfeld</a>, <a href="http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/01/21/glenn_close_wants_to_unload_beresford_pad_for_118_million.php" target="_blank">Glenn Close</a>, and <a href="http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/04/24/this_22m_beresford_penthouse_doesnt_include_a_tower.php" target="_blank">Helen Gurley Brown</a>, can draw scads of high-finance players. The haul for a dinner event has been known to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/28/us/politics/28singer.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">run to $1.4 million</a>, and Singer himself has no trouble writing a <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cycle=2012&amp;cmte=C00490045" target="_blank">$1 million check</a> to a super-PAC. He's been described as a <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/04/17/150426158/superdonor-backs-romney-and-gay-marriage" target="_blank">"fundraising terrorist"</a> for his persistence in twisting arms, a skill that has helped drive a major strategic shift among Big Finance donors, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/06/obama-and-wall-street" target="_blank">who favored Obama in 2008</a> but now <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/04/why-wall-street-hates-president-obama" target="_blank">overwhelmingly back the GOP</a>.</p> <div class="sidebar-large-right"> <h3 class="subhed"><strong>Hey Big Spender</strong></h3> <p><span class="deklet">Every single member of Congress elected last fall got money from the 1 percent of the 1 percent, the tiny elite of top donors like Paul Singer.</span></p> <p>Percentage of population these big donors represent: <a href="http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/06/24/where-the-1-of-the-1-money-goes/" target="_blank"><strong>0.01%</strong></a></p> <p>Percentage of all 2012 campaign donations they gave: <a href="http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/06/24/1pct_of_the_1pct/" target="_blank"><strong>28%</strong></a></p> <p>Total amount they gave to candidates: <strong>$410 million</strong></p> <p>To super-PACs: <strong>$500 million</strong></p> <p>Percentage of campaign donations that went to Republicans: <strong>59%</strong></p> <p>Percentage of big donations that came from Wall Street: <strong>25%</strong></p> <p>Top employer for big donors: <strong>Goldman Sachs</strong></p> <p>13th-biggest employer: <strong>Singer's Elliott Management</strong></p> <p>Total given by Goldman's megadonors: <strong>$4.7 million</strong></p> <p>Total given by Elliott's megadonors: <strong>$4.4 million</strong></p> </div> <p>Singer has a professorial mien and close-cropped beard that give him a passing resemblance to Fed chairman <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/bernanke-federal-reserve-press-conference" target="_blank">Ben Bernanke</a>. A hardline free-marketeer with political roots in the Barry Goldwater era, he despises the Obama administration's push to tighten financial regulations. At a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/28/us/politics/28singer.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">2010 dinner for the Manhattan Institute</a>, a conservative think tank whose board he chairs, he blasted "indiscriminate attacks by political leaders against anything that moves in the world of finance." Singer's $21 billion Elliott Management is one of many firms that face tougher oversight due to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/07/chart-day-war-dodd-frank" target="_blank">2010 Dodd-Frank law</a>, the sweeping financial-services overhaul that he'd like to see repealed. Elliott has been called a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/business/global/bet-on-greek-bonds-paid-off-for-vulture-fund.html?_r=0" target="_blank">"vulture fund"</a> because a chunk of its profits comes from buying distressed companies' or countries' debt at a steep discount and then playing hardball&mdash;including, in one case, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/afontevecchia/2012/10/05/the-real-story-behind-the-argentine-vessel-in-ghana-and-how-hedge-funds-tried-to-seize-the-presidential-plane/" target="_blank">detaining the flagship of Argentina's navy</a>&mdash;to extract payment.</p> <p>The trifecta of big checks, high-powered connections, and influence in GOP policy circles has made Singer a kind of triple threat. "Singer is <em>the</em> big power broker in the Republican financial world," says one operative who knows him. "He's involved with almost everything." <a href="http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/03/26/paul-singer-mitt-romney/" target="_blank"><em>Fortune</em> described him</a> as "a passionate defender of the 1%." In practical terms, notes one conservative donor, "if you write checks as big as Singer's, you can be close to anyone."</p> <p>Singer got his start as a megadonor in the 2004 campaign cycle, when he helped raise Wall Street cash for <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/donor_detail.php?cycle=2004&amp;id=U0000000066&amp;type=I&amp;super=N&amp;name=Singer%2C+Paul" target="_blank">Swift Boat Veterans for Truth</a>, the group that attacked John Kerry's war record in Vietnam. In 2007 he backed <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/05/rudy-giuliani-seriously-running-president" target="_blank">Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid</a>, including loaning the former New York City mayor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/us/politics/22singer.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0&amp;gwh=0DC63395C971A97978EF8B22E187BEC9" target="_blank">his plane</a>. Singer also <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Giuliani-fundraiser-gave-big-bucks-to-state-2520812.php" target="_blank">secretly funneled $175,000</a> into a California ballot measure to allocate the state's electoral votes on a proportional basis&mdash;a strategic ploy designed to move some of the blue state's votes to the GOP. Singer was instrumental in the selection of Wisconsin <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444230504577615731345627296.html" target="_blank">Rep. Paul Ryan</a>, a fellow fan of laissez-faire capitalism, as Mitt Romney's 2012 running mate; Dan Senor, now a senior adviser at Elliott, was one of the campaign's top foreign policy staffers. (Senor served as the Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman during the early days of the occupation of Iraq, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/76219/reporting_iraq%3A_journalists%27_coverage_of_a_censored_war" target="_blank">where he once said</a>, "Well, off the record, Paris is burning. But on the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq.")</p> <p>Recently, Singer has given sizable sums to the billionaire Koch brothers' dark-money projects as well as to the <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib_all.php?cmte=Club+for+Growth&amp;type=A&amp;cycle=2012" target="_blank">Club for Growth</a>, an anti-tax group that has helped tea partiers oust several mainstream Republicans. He's also donated generously to Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, and has tapped Susan Ralston, a former aide to Rove and disgraced lobbyist <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/09/fall-true-believer" target="_blank">Jack Abramoff</a>, for fundraising help. Elliott Management employees are major backers of virtually every top Republican in Washington, including <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2012&amp;cid=N00003389&amp;type=I" target="_blank">Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell</a> and <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2012&amp;type=C&amp;cid=N00013131&amp;newMem=N&amp;recs=20" target="_blank">House Majority Leader Eric Cantor</a>, as well as 2016 presidential prospects like <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?type=C&amp;cid=N00004357&amp;newMem=N&amp;cycle=2012" target="_blank">Ryan</a> and <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/races/contrib.php?cycle=2010&amp;id=FLS2&amp;spec=N" target="_blank">Florida Sen. Marco Rubio</a>.</p> <p>Yet Singer has been at odds with the party on a few important issues, most notably gay marriage. (He has a son who is gay and <a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2012/10/15/republican-donor-paul-singer-gives-250000-maryland-marriage" target="_blank">was married in Massachusetts</a> a few years ago.) Singer has plowed more than $11 million into marriage equality drives since 2001 and put another <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib_all.php?cmte=American+Unity+PAC&amp;type=A&amp;cycle=2012" target="_blank">$1.7 million</a> into the launch of the American Unity PAC, which backs pro-gay-rights Republicans. He's also worked closely with Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee chairman (and now Wall Street investment banker) <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/08/bush-campaign-chief-and-former-rnc-chair-ken-mehlman-im-gay/62065/" target="_blank">who came out</a> a few years ago. "Paul's active on the issue because of his conservative ideology, not in spite of it," Mehlman says. "He strongly believes in it. We collaborate very closely."</p> <p>In the end, though, Singer's distaste for the Obama administration's economic policies has squarely aligned his giving with the conservative wing of the party. His top cause is repealing or <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2011/05/06/elliotts-paul-singer-rails-against-dodd-frank/" target="_blank">weakening Dodd-Frank</a>, which he sees as both too meddlesome (it expanded federal oversight of hedge funds and curbed creditors' participation in big corporate bankruptcies, a key part of the vulture fund business) and too lax (he's criticized it for not requiring enough disclosure from big banks).</p> <p>Among Elliott's allies is Rep. Scott Garrett, the New Jersey Republican who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Securities and Exchange Commission. Garrett has fought to slash the SEC budget and calls Dodd-Frank <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ghZO6L1C2I" target="_blank">"unconstitutional."</a> In 2010, Elliott executives ponied up <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/2011/01/05/2232/hedge-funds-bet-heavily-republicans-end-election" target="_blank">nearly $200,000</a> for two campaign committees that helped Garrett and also boosted his stature with fellow Republicans; a large chunk of one of the committees' funds went to assist other members. Singer and other Elliott execs have also opened their wallets wide for Cantor, who has led efforts to protect a massive tax break, known as carried interest, that allows hedge funders to pay very low capital-gains rates on their income.</p> <p>But in what is perhaps its highest-stakes battle, Elliott has spent more than a decade waging an aggressive legal campaign to force Argentina to pay down nearly $1.3 billion in sovereign debt accrued in the wake of its 2001 financial meltdown. (Elliott would get <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/15/argentina-ghana-ship-idUSL1E8LFKZO20121015" target="_blank">about $300 million</a> for bonds that <a href="http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-12/politics/40534835_1_hedge-funds-bondholders-justice-department" target="_blank">Argentina claims</a> it picked up for $48 million.) Most American banks and other creditors have long since accepted the country's offers to pay off its debts at about 30 percent of their original value. But an Elliott subsidiary has won several federal rulings that have increased the pressure on Buenos Aires. The subsidiary is represented by former solicitor general and <em>Bush v. Gore</em> lawyer Ted Olson, who recently helped <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/supreme-court-doma-prop-8-rulings" target="_blank">defeat California's anti-gay-marriage law</a> in the Supreme Court.</p> <p>But Elliott's stance has sparked concerns among big banks and the Obama administration, which has backed some of Argentina's claims in court. They fear that squeezing Argentina could put other <a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/banks-fear-court-ruling-in-argentina-bond-debt/" target="_blank">debt deals with distressed countries</a> at risk and jolt the global bond market. But Elliott has lobbied hard and garnered some backing in Congress. Last year, then-Florida <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2012/11/28/paul-singer-connie-mack-bono-mack/1732343/" target="_blank">Rep. Connie Mack</a> sponsored a bill to push Argentina to pay $3.5 billion to hedge funds, including Elliott&mdash;whose employees were some of the biggest supporters of Mack's unsuccessful 2012 Senate campaign. (Mack has said that he was unaware of Singer's role in the debt fight.)</p> <p>It's not the first time Elliott has put the screws to poor countries. In the mid-'90s, it was awarded a $58 million judgment on Peruvian debt that it had bought for around $11 million; a few years later, it walked off with <a href="http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/03/26/paul-singer-mitt-romney/" target="_blank">$90 million on Congolese debt</a> that it had acquired for about $20 million. Yet with Argentina the fund has ratcheted its tactics up a few notches. Last October, Elliott's subsidiary had the Argentine navy's tall ship ARA <em>Libertad</em> detained in a Ghanaian port; <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/745814-tribunal-orders-release-of-argentine-frigate" target="_blank">the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea</a> later called the impoundment a violation of international law.</p> <p>To those who know Singer, such aggressive stunts are wholly in character. Harvey Miller, a partner and bankruptcy expert at Weil, Gotshal &amp; Manges who has fought Elliott in court, calls him a "very tough and very difficult adversary. He's not a compromiser. He's persistent and won't go away." Democrats are likely to realize as much in 2014.</p></body></html> Politics Corporations Dark Money Money in Politics Top Stories Fri, 04 Oct 2013 10:00:08 +0000 Peter Stone 230441 at http://www.motherjones.com "Your Fight Has Become Our Fight" http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/nra-gun-companies-timeline <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Plus: </strong>How the National Rifle Association <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/nra-koch-brothers-karl-rove" target="_blank">sold its grassroots firepower</a> to the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, and conservative donors.</p> <table border="0" cellpadding="10" cellspacing="0" class="timeline" width="630"><tbody><tr><td class="timeline-year first">1967</td> <td class="first">The NRA declares it "is not affiliated with any manufacturer of arms or ammunition."</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">1977</td> <td class="first"> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/NRAtimeline_425x320_1.jpg" style="width: 315px; height: 237px;"><div class="caption"><strong>A 1975 NRA ad appeals to hunters; a 1993 ad features a photo of goose-stepping Nazis and warns of a coming "police state."</strong></div> </div> Hardliners oust NRA leadership for going soft on gun rights. New president Harlon Carter turns the group into a political powerhouse.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">1982</td> <td class="first">Sturm Ruger, Smith &amp; Wesson, and other gun companies <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2245&amp;dat=19820918&amp;id=IjgzAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=ezIHAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=4896,2134822" target="_blank">help fund the NRA's $5 million drive</a> to defeat California's "handgun freeze" proposition.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">1991</td> <td class="first">The NRA asks 16 gun makers for input on whether it should start a satellite TV channel to present "our truthful unbiased story." Manufacturers are enthusiastic.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">1999</td> <td class="first"> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="chalton heston" class="image" src="/files/charlton-heston-rifle250.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>NRA president Charlton Heston delivers his "cold, dead hands" speech, 2003. </strong>Preston MacUMAPress</div> </div> NRA president <a href="http://onlineathens.com/stories/020299/new_0202990025.shtml" target="_blank">Charlton Heston tells gun manufacturers</a> facing product liability lawsuits: "Your fight has become our fight. Your legal threat is our constitutional threat," even if "others are going to say we've become what they've always thought&mdash;a shill for the industry."</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2000</td> <td class="first">The NRA organizes a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/smith-wesson-clinton-bush-nra_n_2348503.html" target="_blank">boycott of Smith &amp; Wesson</a> after the gun maker works with the Clinton administration to make safer guns in exchange for legal immunity. Taurus firearms offers a free NRA membership to all customers, bringing in <a href="http://www.nra.org/Article.aspx?id=16797" target="_blank">more than 40,000 members</a> over the next 12 years.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2004</td> <td class="first">The NRA helps block renewal of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban. Rifle production jumps 75 percent in the following seven years.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2005</td> <td class="first"> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="remington ad" class="image" src="/files/remington-nra-250.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Remington and other gun makers offer free NRA memberships to customers. </strong>Remington</div> </div> <p>Congress passes the <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/12/19/why-isnt-the-media-discussing-the-unprecedented/191910" target="_blank">Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act</a>, which blocks product liability suits against gun makers and sellers&mdash;a shield no other industry enjoys. The NRA launches its <a href="http://www.nragive.com/#/ringoffreedom" target="_blank">Ring of Freedom campaign</a> to enlist corporate partners. By 2011, about 50 gun companies sign up, raising as much as $38 million. Beretta USA and ammo maker MidwayUSA kick in more than $1 million each.</p> </td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2007</td> <td class="first"> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="nra convention" class="image" src="/files/glock-nra-convention250.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Rocking out with her Glock bag out at the NRA convention </strong>Les Stone/ZUMAPress</div> </div> The NRA thanks Glock for signing up <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/628399-nra-recruiter-glock" target="_blank">10,000 of its customers</a> as new members.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2008</td> <td class="first">Beretta <a href="http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/news-from-nra-ila/2008/beretta-group-pledges-%241-million-to-ben.aspx?s=beretta&amp;st=&amp;ps=" target="_blank">pledges $1 million</a> to the NRA over the next five years.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2011</td> <td class="first"> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="friends of NRA" class="image" src="/files/friends-NRA-taurus250_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong><em>Friends of NRA</em> host Jessie Duff visits handgun maker Taurus </strong><a href="http://www.friendsofnra.tv/show-stop/photo-s3.html" target="_blank"><em>Friends of NRA</em></a></div> </div> <a href="http://www.friendsofnra.tv/show-stop/guide-s1.html" target="_blank"><em>Friends of NRA</em></a> launches on the Outdoor Channel; episodes include visits to gun companies such as Winchester, Barrett, and Taurus. Ruger promises the NRA <a href="http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/news-from-nra-ila/2011/6/ruger-sets-goal-of-raising-%241-million-f.aspx?s=%241+million&amp;st=&amp;ps=" target="_blank">$1 for every weapon</a> it sells in a year. It ends up <a href="http://www.ruger.com/news/2012-04-11.html" target="_blank">donating $1.2 million</a>. Gun industry and other corporate donations to the NRA total more than $59 million. <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> </td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2012</td> <td class="first">MidwayUSA donates <a href="http://www.nrablog.com/post/2013/03/05/MidwayUSA-reaches-one-million-active-customers-donates-one-million-to-NRA.aspx" target="_blank">$1 million</a> to the NRA; <a href="http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/news-from-nra-ila/2012/05/smith-wesson-to-be-inducted-into-the-nra-golden-ring-of-freedom.aspx?s=wesson&amp;st=&amp;ps" target="_blank">Smith &amp; Wesson donates</a> more than $1 million.</td> </tr><tr><td class="timeline-year first">2013</td> <td class="first">The <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/nra-board-newtown-bushmaster" target="_blank">CEO of the Freedom Group</a>, maker of the AR-15 rifle, is nominated to run for the NRA board of directors. The NRA's <a href="http://eddieeagle.nra.org/" target="_blank">Eddie Eagle gun safety website</a> declares the group is "not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers."</td> </tr></tbody></table><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/NRA_Number1_630.png"><div class="caption"><strong>As NRA rhetoric has ramped up, so have gun sales (as measured by the number of federal firearm background checks.) </strong></div> </div></body></html> Politics Corporations Guns Tue, 02 Apr 2013 10:00:14 +0000 Peter Stone 219811 at http://www.motherjones.com Inside the NRA's Koch-Funded Dark-Money Campaign http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/nra-koch-brothers-karl-rove <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>"This election is going to be won on the ground," Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association's top lobbyist, <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/2012/04/10/8633/nra-ralph-reed-group-plan-get-out-vote-efforts" target="_blank">told me early last year</a> as the gun lobby prepared to launch its all-out campaign to defeat Barack Obama. Historically, pro-gun voters have favored Republicans by a margin of 2- or 3-to-1, but that only matters if they vote. And, Cox stressed, millions of gun owners were not registered yet.</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/nra-mininav2.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-224286"> <li><a href="/mojo/2013/05/nra-lie-obama-gun-control-registry-survey"> This Is How the NRA Lies to Gun Owners About Obama's Agenda</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-220651"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/04/nra-phony-school-shooting"> NRA's School Security Plan Cites Phony Shooting</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-220351"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/03/national-rifle-association-ads-history"> This Collection of NRA Ads Reveals Its Descent Into Crazy</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-219176"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/04/gun-free-zones-mass-shootings"> The NRA Myth of Gun-Free Zones</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-219146"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/03/guns-nra-national-rifle-association-wants-states-legalize-silencers-supressors"> Gunmakers and the NRA Bet Big on Silencers. What Could Go Wrong?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-220196"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/03/adam-lanza-search-warrant-guns-nra"> Investigators Discover NRA Materials in Newtown Killer's House</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-213526"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/01/nra-board-newtown-bushmaster"> EXCLUSIVE: Unmasking the NRA's Inner Circle</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-213506"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/01/nra-board-members-selleck-nugent"> Meet the NRA's Board of Directors</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-212066"> <li><a href="/politics/2012/12/nra-mass-shootings-myth"> The NRA Myth of Arming the Good Guys</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-177831"> <li><a href="/politics/2012/06/nra-alec-stand-your-ground"> How the NRA and Its Allies Helped Spread a Radical Gun Law Nationwide</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2012/12/guns-in-america-mass-shootings">See our full special report</a> on gun laws and the rise of mass shootings in America. </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p>The NRA's get-out-the-vote effort, its most ambitious ever, would target gun owners from all angles. Its field workers would register them at gun shows and gun shops in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. The NRA spent millions on TV spots; <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57528060/nra-releases-anti-obama-ad/" target="_blank">one seven-figure ad buy last October</a> attacked the president for "chipping away" at Second Amendment rights, urging Americans to "defend freedom." Chuck Norris, a spokesman for the NRA's Trigger the Vote campaign, <a href="http://www.triggerthevote.org/homepage/" target="_blank">warned apathetic gun owners</a>, "I'll come looking for the people who sat this election out."</p> <p>Mobilizing the NRA's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/01/nra-membership-numbers" target="_blank">estimated 4 million members</a> "is always a critical part of the equation for us on the Republican side," says Charlie Black, a veteran GOP operative who was an adviser to Mitt Romney's and Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns.</p> <p>But 2012 was different: The NRA wasn't simply reaching out to its core constituency&mdash;it was reeling in big checks from conservative funders eager to take advantage of its grassroots muscle. The arrangement was mutually beneficial: The NRA burnished its reputation as a political force to be reckoned with, while donors invested in the kind of all-out GOTV effort they had once expected from the Republican Party itself.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2013/04/nra-koch-brothers-karl-rove"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Dark Money Guns Money in Politics Top Stories Tue, 02 Apr 2013 10:00:13 +0000 Peter Stone 219806 at http://www.motherjones.com All Checks, No Balances: Campaign Finance Sells Out http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/corporate-spending-elections-supreme-court <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><acronym_leadin>F</acronym_leadin>or much of the past decade, the <a href="http://bipac.org/bipac_public/initial.asp">Business Industry Political Action Committee</a> has been a powerful force in helping tilt elections for corporate-friendly candidates. The blue-ribbon business group, made up of more than 400 companies and trade associations&mdash;from Lockheed Martin to the American Petroleum Institute and the Financial Services Roundtable&mdash;maintains the "<a href="http://www.bipac.net/page.asp?g=BIPAC_PUBLIC&amp;content=services-prosperity-project">Prosperity Project</a>," which includes a state-of-the-art database to track candidates' stands on issues from regulation to taxes to health care. Many of BIPAC's members <a href="http://www.bipac.net/BIPAC_2009_Biennial_Report.pdf">circulate this analysis</a> (PDF) to their employees. In the past, that's all a company could do&mdash;provide employees information it hoped would prod them to vote for pro-business candidates. But now, thanks to the Supreme Court's <a href="http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/08-205.ZS.html"><em>Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission</em></a> ruling, these corporations will be able to go much further. They'll be able to tell employees exactly, and in detail, which politicians their bosses favor&mdash;in effect, campaigning directly in the workplace.</p> <p>In 2008, BIPAC spent about $2 million on the Prosperity Project. But now it's looking to more than double its expenditure on what, with about 60 House and Senate seats in play, could be one of the <a href="http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/03/senate-race-rankings-update-310.html">most competitive election seasons</a> in quite some time. A big reason is <em>Citizens United</em>, which gave companies, trade groups, nonprofits, and unions the green light <a href="/mojo/2010/01/supreme-court-eviscerates-campaign-finance-restrictions">to spend unlimited amounts</a> on campaign ads and other advocacy tools pushing directly for the election (or defeat) of candidates. BIPAC president Greg Casey, though cautious about where and how the group might deploy these new tools, acknowledges that "the nature of the court ruling gives us a lot more places and activities for political communications than we had before."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2010/03/corporate-spending-elections-supreme-court"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Corporations Supreme Court Top Stories Tue, 24 Aug 2010 10:00:00 +0000 Peter Stone 51821 at http://www.motherjones.com Take Two Kickbacks... http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/11/take-two-kickbacks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>So your doctor</strong> says it's time to consider that hip replacement. Trouble is, more than a dozen firms make artificial hips, and there've been plenty of recalls&mdash;no small inconvenience when the recalled product resides in your pelvis. So how do you know which implant&mdash;or arterial stent, or prosthetic knee joint&mdash;performs best? Can you trust your doctor's judgment? We've been left jaded, after all, by the endless reports of drugmakers' seducing physicians with golf and spa weekends, expensive gifts, and lucrative consulting contracts. Well, now that federal investigators have quietly turned their sights on the makers of medical devices&mdash;a $200 billion industry whose marketing practices have seen relatively little scrutiny&mdash;it's becoming clear that implant companies are just as solicitous of doctors as Big Pharma has been.</p> <p>Consider Minneapolis-based <a href="http://www.medtronic.com/">Medtronic</a>, the country's leading device maker, which hauled in nearly $15 billion in 2009 sales despite having become a repeat target for state and federal prosecutors. In 2006, Medtronic agreed to pay the feds $40 million to settle allegations that from 1998 through 2003 it had set up sham consulting and royalty agreements, trips to strip clubs in Tennessee, and other incentives to entice surgeons to use its spinal products.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2009/11/take-two-kickbacks"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Environment Corporations Health Care Pharma Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Mon, 02 Nov 2009 09:00:00 +0000 Peter Stone 27741 at http://www.motherjones.com UBS's Offshore Shell Game http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/11/ubss-offshore-shell-game <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>UPDATE</strong> <strong>September 12, 2012</strong>: <em>The </em>New York Times<em> reports today that the IRS will pay whistle blower Bradley Birkenfeld $104 million for his assistance in helping the agency pursue UBS and divulge the secrets of the Swiss banking system. According to the </em>Times<em>, "In addition to </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/business/worldbusiness/19ubs.html?_r=1" title="Article on the payment. "><em>paying $780 million</em></a><em> in 2009 to avoid criminal prosecution, [UBS] turned over account information regarding more than 4,500 American clients." This led to thousands of wealthy Americans taking advantage of a tax-amnesty program offered by the government, recovering some $5 billion in unpaid tax revenues.</em></p> <p>The investment firm where former McCain <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/08/9276_the_return_of_f.html" rel="nofollow">adviser</a> and ex-Sen. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/07/foreclosure-phil.html" rel="nofollow">Phil Gramm</a> serves as a vice chairman is taking heat for helping affluent Americans cheat the US Treasury out of some $2 billion&mdash;but the world might never have known had Bradley Birkenfeld not <a target='_blank"' href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&amp;sid=azuZMCVy4PcA&amp;refer=home" rel="nofollow">sung like a canary</a>.</p> <p>The Boston-bred Birkenfeld was a banker for UBS, a Swiss financial behemoth with major US operations. His specialty: devising tax shelters in the form of offshore shell companies and peddling them to the superrich. According to court documents, 85 to 90 bankers in UBS's wealth-management divisions drummed up business at high-roller events like the America's Cup yacht race and Miami's prestigious Art Basel exhibition; Birkenfeld took pains to keep his customers happy, going so far for one client as to purchase diamonds overseas and smuggle them into the US in a toothpaste tube to avoid taxes and duties.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2008/11/ubss-offshore-shell-game"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics mccain Sat, 01 Nov 2008 07:00:00 +0000 Peter Stone 17949 at http://www.motherjones.com Betting on Red http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/01/betting-red <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><b>Under any</b> other circumstances, a federal case over the possessive "s" wouldn't seem like a big deal. But when it pits Larry Klayman&mdash;a gadfly lawyer best known for digging up dirt on the Clintons during the 1990s&mdash;against a cadre of high-powered Bush allies,well, things can get interesting. Those who still remember Klayman grilling Clinton aides in pursuit of Filegate may have felt a touch of schadenfreude in November as he deposed the likes of ex-White House flack Ari Fleischer. But Klayman's latest legal crusade could create real headaches for his target&mdash;Freedom's Watch, a new conservative nonprofit (where Fleischer is a board member) with big ambitions for the 2008 election.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2008/01/betting-red"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics GOP Sheldon Adelson Tue, 15 Jan 2008 08:00:00 +0000 Peter Stone 17979 at http://www.motherjones.com Ralph Reed's Other Cheek http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2004/11/ralph-reeds-other-cheek <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When the casino-rich Coushatta tribe of Louisiana began a lobbying blitz in 2001 to block three other tribes from opening competing casinos, they hired two of Washington's top influence brokers, lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations whiz Michael Scanlon. But Abramoff and Scanlon -- who are now at the center of a Washington scandal sparked by the multimillion-dollar fees they charged several tribal clients -- knew that to win any lobbying campaign in the South, they needed help mobilizing social and religious conservatives. So they turned to one of the best-known names on the religious right: Ralph Reed. Since his departure as head of the Christian Coalition in 1997, Reed has emerged as a highly sought-after corporate consultant, putting his organizing skills and political connections to work for business interests -- even those that conflict with his followers' conservative beliefs. </p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2004/11/ralph-reeds-other-cheek"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Mon, 01 Nov 2004 08:00:00 +0000 Peter Stone 17667 at http://www.motherjones.com