Election 2014  
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New Super-PAC Threatens to Destroy Candidates Who Side With the People Over Wall Street

Banks are pioneering a more cost-effective method of dealing with legislators who stand in their way.

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A person well-familiar with the workings of Congress explains, "Well, if you crush one, most of the rest will live in terrified fear with little additional effort from you."

This destruction-threat method is so much less expensive than investing in a portfolio of lawmakers and their staff, a now-outdated system that requires the industry to follow through with lucrative jobs, speaking fees and other post-government inducements. After one public example, the super-PAC’s remaining accumulated sum need not actually be spent at all. Instead of spreading millions around to purchase influence through campaign contributions and post-government-service jobs, the bankers only need make an example by aggressively destroying one, maybe two elected officials and Bob’s your uncle.

The New Super-PAC

Friends Of Traditional Banking  is a new super-PAC formed by “traditional” banks that can raise unlimited amounts, and can direct unlimited money to races without restrictions.

One banker calls this “a big stick” with which to punish lawmakers who vote with the public interest instead of the banking industry’s interest. Another banker says the purpose is to make lawmakers “afraid of bankers” instead of having them respond to the public. Another says, "… if you say the bankers are going to put in $100,000 or $500,000 or $1 million into your opponent's campaign, that starts to draw some attention.” Another makes it all clear, it is about raising “a lot of money” to “hammer” lawmakers who are in the way of bank profits.

The story from American Banker,  Bankers Form SuperPac for 'Surgical' Strike at Industry's Enemies explains,

Frustrated by a lack of political power and fed up with blindly donating to politicians who consistently vote against the industry's interests, a handful of leaders are determined to shake things up.

They have formed the industry's first SuperPAC — dubbed Friends of Traditional Banking —  that is designed to target the industry's enemies and support its friends in Congress.

"It comes back to the old philosophy of walking softly and carrying a big stick," says Howard Headlee, the president and chief executive officer of the Utah Bankers Association. "But we've got no big stick. And we should. We have the capacity to have one, we just aren't organized."

… "Congress isn't afraid of bankers," adds Roger Beverage, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. "They don't think we'll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception."

That bankers are the first to publicly announce this new legislator-threatening approach shows that the amazing “financial innovation” engine of Wall Street is still operating. 

Worst Fears Realized

This was the worst fear coming out of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The problem is that these decisions have handed large corporations and billionaires the ability to threaten elected officials before a vote, "Vote with us or we can put unlimited funds into defeating you." This is not about supporting people who agree with you to gain influence – bad enough – as it is about the ability to threaten those who try to regulate you with the use of unlimited funds to crush them. And this is no longer just a fear, this is exactly what this group says they will do now. And, of course, this will set the standard for the rest of the players in the influence game.

Note this applies not just to members of Congress, but state legislators, even county or city-level public officials.

  • A state legislator considers voting against a special tax break for a certain very large corporation – or perhaps a law taxing their competitors – which would bring the company a cool billion. The company lets that legislator know it is prepared to spend a measly $20 million on a challenger in the next election. How do you think that representative will vote -- and if they do the right thing how long do you expect them to keep their seat?
  • A huge oil company will certainly spend a measly $10 million to install a hand-picked board of county supervisors that will let it put a refinery in the middle of an organic farming or sensitive environmental region.

Survival of the Biggest

 
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