On the front page of The New York Times, there's this story about Scott Walker:
More than any of his potential rivals for the White House, Mr. Walker, 47, is a product of a loose network of conservative donors, think tanks and talk radio hosts who have spent years preparing the road for a politician who could successfully present their arguments for small government to a broader constituency.It isn't just the Koch Brothers -- it's also the deep-pocketed Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, whose president, David Grebe, became a Walker mentor back in the 1980s, and then served as Walker's campaign manager when he ran for governor. Walker was also promoted by Wisconsin radio talker Charlie Sykes, whose wife is director of community programs at the Bradley Foundation.
The story appears online under the headline "Behind Scott Walker, a Longstanding Conservative Alliance Against Unions," but the print headline is much more pointed: "Conservatives and Their Cash Lined Up Early Behind Walker."
Meanwhile, over at NPR, we're told today about the links between Republican presidential candidates and their sugar daddies:
... almost every candidate wants a billionaire, or billionaires, close at hand to refuel a superPAC.But ... but ... Hillary Clinton! She's the bought-and-paid-for candidate, right? Well, in fact:
Cruz is no different. His operation has a superPAC basically dedicated to hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, in addition to three other superPACs. Together, they've reportedly raised $37 million.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has Miami businessman Norman Braman on board. Braman said this of Rubio back in March, on Fox News: "I just believe in him. I've known him for eight years. And I'm not alone. We're gonna raise the money."
And Rick Santorum still has Idaho entrepreneur Foster Friess, who traveled with the candidate in 2012, simultaneously consulting with him and funding his superPAC....
Not all of the candidates have friends like Friess. One is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It was thought that Paul's libertarian stances would appeal to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. But things haven't worked out that way. Paul has struggled to find a billionaire to call his own.
On her first day campaigning in Iowa, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged to fix the political money system "and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment."But she and her husband do have a uniquely corrupt cash pipeline involving payments for speeches, right? Well, as Politico notes today, that's also true of a certain presidential aspirant's brother:
But Clinton's operation is struggling to drum up wealthy liberals to support its own superPAC.
As critics over the years have chided Bill Clinton and also his wife for the industriousness with which they have pursued opportunities to get paid a lot of money in this manner, [George W.] Bush, too, has ... given at least 200 paid speeches and probably many more [since 2009], typically pocketing $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance. The part-time work, which rarely requires more than an hour on stage, has earned him tens of millions of dollars.Is it possible that in the 2016 campaign we'll seriously discuss the overall problem of money in politics, rather than just the Clintons' money-raising techniques?
Relative to the Clintons, though, he’s attracted considerably less attention, almost always doing his paid public speaking in private, in convention centers and hotel ballrooms, resorts and casinos, from Canada to Asia, from New York to Miami, from all over Texas to Las Vegas a bunch, playing his part in what has become a lucrative staple of the modern post-presidency.
He has talked to the National Grocers Association and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. He’s talked to global wealth management firms and multinational energy companies. He has talked to motivational seminars and boat builders and something called the Work Truck Show. He has talked to the chambers of commerce in San Diego and Wichita.
“Evil is real,” he said at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas.
“Bowling is fun,” he said at a get-together for the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America in Orlando.
“History will ultimately judge whether I made the right decisions or not,” he said at a gathering put on by the Advertising Specialty Institute in Dallas.
He listed for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in a talk at Tulsa’s Hyatt hotel the three best things his father ever gave him -- “being raised in West Texas, no money and unconditional love” -- and then got back into a motorcade of a couple SUVs and cop cars and flew home on a private plane.
I'd like to think so, but I have my doubts. All of these stories appear in media outlets aimed at upmarket audiences and/or political insiders. I don't know if this subject will filter down to the mainstream news ordinary Americans consume -- except as it concerns the Clintons. Democrat-haters can force a discussion of the Clintons' finances. I fear that no one is sufficiently motivated to put the overall problem of money in politics on the national agenda.
But it's good to see even this much discussion of it. Maybe there'll be a lot more.
UPDATE: Never mind -- on this subject, discussion of the Clintons trumps everything.