Moyers: How the 1% Is Buying Our Democracy
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Then there’s casino king Sheldon Adelson, who gave Scott Walker’s cause $250,000. That’s a drop in the old champagne bucket compared to the $21 million Adelson’s family gave to the super PAC that kept Newt Gingrich in the race long after the formaldehyde had been ordered. According to The Wall Street Journal, Adelson did not long mourn Gingrich’s passing, and has now given at least $10 million to the Restore Our Future super PAC supporting Romney. By all accounts, what he expects in return is that his candidate hold unions at bay and swear that Israel can do no wrong.
Next up on Scott Walker’s list of beneficent plutocrats: Rich DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic basketball team and co-founder of the home products giant Amway, which, thanks to Republican leaders in Congress, once shared in a $19 million tax break after a million-dollar DeVos contribution to the Republican Party. He’s a long-time member of the secretive Council for National Policy, a who’s who of right-wing luminaries.
Let’s not forget cowboy billionaire and born again Christian, Foster Friess, Rick Santorum’s moneyman, who told us about the good ol’ days when women would “use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” And Louis Moore Bacon, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Moore Capital – which in 2010 was fined $25 million for attempted commodities manipulation. A big backer of Romney, he, too came to Walker’s aid in Wisconsin.
So did Dallas oil and gas wildcatter Trevor Rees-Jones, who’s given millions to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, in anticipation of another administration as friendly to taxpayer subsidies for big oil as the Rove-Bush White House. Last year, Rees-Jones’ company, Chief Oil, and a partner sold to Chevron nearly a quarter million acres in northeast America’s Marcellus Shale – the epicenter of the raging controversy over fracking. Estimated price: one billion dollars.
We could go on and name more, but you get the picture. These are the people who are helping to fund what the journalist Joe Hagan describes as a “tsunami of slime.” Even as they and their chosen candidates are afforded respectability in the value-free world of plutocracy, they can hide the fingerprints they leave on the bleeding corpse of democracy in part because each super PAC comes with that extra special something every politician craves: plausible deniability. When one of their ads says something nasty and deceitful about an opponent — when it slanders and lies — the pol can shrug and say: “Not my doing. It’s the super PAC that’s slinging the mud, not me.”
And that’s how the wealthy one percent does its dirty business. They are, by the way, as we were reminded by CNN’s Charles Riley in his report, “ Can 46 Rich Dudes Buy an Election?” almost all men, mostly white, “and so far, the vast majority of their contributions have been made to conservative groups.” They want to own this election. So if there are any of you left out there with millions to burn, better buy your candidate now, while supplies last.