5 Right-Wing Scumbags Bankrolling Dangerous (and Plain Weird) Conservative Causes
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Scaife really hit his stride in the 1990s when he became obsessed with forcing President Bill Clinton and his penis from office. He kicked things off in 1993 by funding the so-called “ Arkansas Project” that sent Spectator hacks down to Little Rock to dig up embarrassing dirt on the Clintons. Although that failed to produce the goods, Scaife decided to simultaneously fund Paula Jones’ unsuccessful sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton, thus setting the stage for later sex scandals that would result in the president getting impeached by the Republican House.
Scaife also got another “gift” when the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster sparked a litany of crazed conspiracies asserting that the Clintons had actually murdered Foster themselves.
“The death of Vincent Foster: I think that's the Rosetta Stone to the whole Clinton Administration,” Scaife told the New York Times in 1995. “There are just too many questions that have no answers. ”
In order to unlock this "Rosetta Stone," Scaife funded “journalists” who were willing to keep the Foster-was-murdered conspiracy alive. As New York Times reporter Tim Weiner noted at the time, Scaife’s Tribune-Review was “the only daily newspaper in the nation trying to prove that Mr. Foster might have been murdered.”
To make a long story short, Scaife never truly nailed Clinton like he wanted to, but he did get to watch Clinton get impeached for lying about a blowjob. God, America was a much nicer country back when we had no real problems to deal with.
Right-Wing Sugar Daddies #3 and #4: The Wyly Brothers
Sam and Charles Wyly gained notoriety during the 2000 Republican presidential primary by bankrolling the most comically Orwellian front group ever assembled. Dubbed “Republicans for Clean Air” the group spent more than $2 million for ads that attacked John McCain’s environmental record while praising George W. Bush’s green credentials. The Wylys similarly went to bat for their boy Bush by donating $10,000 a piece to the infamously dishonest Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign that attacked John Kerry’s war record in Vietnam. The Wylys also donated more than $1 million to the Republican National Committee from 2000 through 2004, although they significantly curbed those donations once the Securities and Exchange Commission started investigating them for tax fraud.
Other than funding conservative campaigns, the Wylys’ favorite hobby seems to be getting in trouble for alleged tax evasion. The Wylys, who started making money in the software business and then branched out to clothing stores, restaurants and energy companies, first got the attention of the SEC in 2004 when they refused to provide Bank of America with details on their offshore assets. Oops!
From there, it was one unfortunate event after another for the Wylys. In 2005 the brothers copped to “inadvertently” hiding company profits in offshore trusts. In 2006, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a report detailing a series of trusts the Wylys set up on the Isle of Man that were used to shelter $720 million worth of profits from taxation. And this past summer the SEC finally brought the hammer down on the Wylys, accusing them of reaping more than $30 million from an insider trading scheme related to the sale of their Sterling Software company. The SEC is seeking millions of dollars in fines from the brothers, which would presumably leave them with less cash to use on political smear campaigns. And what a sad, sad tragedy that would be.
Right-Wing Sugar Daddy #5: Peter Thiel
This super-wealthy technodork, who made his money cofounding the PayPal online payment service and being one of Facebook’s earliest investors, is using his cash to influence hearts and minds, albeit in a significantly different way from the previous right-wing sugar daddies we’ve examined. For instead of funding right-wing political campaigns, advertising blitzes and think tanks, Thiel is instead trying to influence his fellow libertarians to flee society, not change it.