The Really Really Rich Fund Presidential Campaigns...Except for Bernie's

Due to the excellent legwork of three New York Times reporters (Confessore, Cohen and Yourish), and Federal Election Commission reports, on which I rely, the meaningless phrase “campaign finance reform” takes on flesh and blood. We now have a clearer idea of something we more or less knew; that our real rulers are overwhelmingly white, rich, right-wing, older and male, and live in guarded mansion-fortresses in places like Indian Creek Road and River Oaks, Texas, and Bel-Air, up the hill from me in Los Angeles. 

These 158 amazingly rich families are not your traditional old money from blue-chip corporations and industries, but new-money wildcatters from finance (Wall Street) and energy (oil and gas), a few foreigners (Pakistan, Israel, etc.) and some in the movie business. The 158 invest mainly in far-out, not always mentally stable Republican candidates as a way (as they see it) to help protect their own wealth and ensure we poor slobs don’t get our hands on a little of it through “entitlements” like Social Security and Medicare which they passionately despise. In a perfect world the 158, doubtless church-going and charitable, would like us dead.  This is no conspiracy, just the natural way big money walks and talks. In a country like ours being re-imagined by the young, and women, and black and brown (usually Democratic) voters, the 158 are like King Canute who believed his command could hold back the ocean tide. We slobs are the ocean tide, and super PACs are the 158’s seawall. 

Aside from a few candid primitives like the Koch brothers and casino-rich Sheldon Adelson, the new donor elite do bookkeeping mystery magic to hide where their money is coming from. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made it so easy for them to secretly dump cash on candidates via post office boxes or anonymous trusts, anything to obscure the source.

We’re talking serious money. The Wilkes (fracking boom) family of Texas, $15 million; hedge funder Bob Mercer, $11 million; Texas leverage buyout king Toby Neugebauer, $10 million; Texan pipeline tycoon Kelcy Warren, merely $6 million; and, oh the pain! Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, $5 milion. And so on down the long line to a paltry $500,000 or $250,000, the pikers.

The 158 are simply doing what comes naturally to entrepreneurs who are without tradition, taste or a sense of limits. After all, that’s how they got into Forbes. In the immortal words of the 19th-century political boss George Washington Plunkett, “I see my opportunity and I take it.”  

Pigs at the trough, the Democrats refuse to be piggied away from super PAC cash. “Democrat” Hillary who has a stranglehold on the Democratic National Committee through her henchwoman, DNC caporegime Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who could give lessons to Tony Soprano in rubbing out the opposition and lying about it. (FYI: in this year’s third quarter, Bernie and Hillary raised nearly $30 million each. Almost 80% of Bernie’s donors were small-time. Exactly the reverse, more than 80% of Hillary’s money came from top-dollar moguls.)

It’s an open secret that much of the organized left is financed by liberal money. This “non-profit, philanthropic complex” runs foundations and left-wing think tanks; the wealthy ladle us a fraction of their money to keep up appearances and help good causes. Let us not inquire how market manipulator and liberal angel, currency trader George Soros, makes his living and whether the money we take from him is part of his triggering global financial crises he profits from. As the Australians say, no wurries, mate.

We’re all caught up in the cash nexus, a web of cash. Who among us will turn down a million bucks from a benefactor?
"Not I," said the Duck.

Not I," said the Cat.

"Not I," said the Dog.

Who among us will be the Little Red Hen?

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.