That unnerving racket you have been putting up with throughout this election season is the sound of glass houses shattering and the people inside them whining, "But, but, but they threw first."
The occupants of the latest house to go to pieces are 14 Democratic U.S. senators who signed a letter imploring the Federal Election Commission to “repair and strengthen protections against foreign influence of American elections.” Each one of these senators has received donations from political action committees connected to American companies that are owned by foreign corporations, nearly $500,000 in all since January 2009, according to an investigation posted by OpenSecrets.
Near the top of the OpenSecrets list of elected officials taking money from committees with foreign ties this election cycle is Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader. Reid did not sign the letter but has stood near the front of the Democratic mob lobbing stones at Republicans for taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling in January invalidating laws against corporate donations in political campaigns.
The story does not suggest Reid and the "Chucking 14" have done anything wrong. These donations are perfectly legal. Of the top 12 lawmakers getting these donations, six are Republicans and six are Democrats.
The difference is Democrats have attempted to use Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission as a campaign issue, vilifying Republicans for taking corporate money whose original sources can be kept secret. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will almost certainly be remembered as the most quotable stone thrower when she lamented at a fundraiser Saturday in Minneapolis, "Everything was going great, and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where -- because they won't disclose it -- is pouring in."
The Supreme Court's ruling, however, also applies to unions, whose funding sources may also be kept from the public. And so when the New York Times reports on the corporate money pouring into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce political action committee, benefiting mostly Republican candidates, the Wall Street Journal comes back the following day reporting that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a supporter of mostly Democratic hopefuls, is the biggest Supreme Court beneficiary in this election cycle.
"We're the big dog," said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations, told the Journal. "But we don't like to brag." Well, then, put down that rock-like projectile and step away from that clear residence.
As we are reminded every election cycle, there is big, big money in Texas politics, too. And no surprise to people who follows these things closely, the biggest of all is Bob Perry, whose not-at-all-secret contributions to Republican candidates and causes were profiled last week by the Texas Tribune. Perry and his wife, Doylene, have donated $7.5 million in the election cycle from Jan. 1, 2009 through Oct. 28, according to the numbers crunchers at Texans for Public Justice.
Deep into the story is a mention of Steve Mostyn, a Houston trial lawyer who, the story says, has spent $7 million of his own money pretty publicly in this election season to benefit Democrats and their ideas. Texans for Lawsuit Reform looked at the most recent reports filed with the state Ethics Commission, though, and found that Mostyn is the biggest Texas donor of the them all this election season. Records show that Mostyn, his firm and his family have contributed $9.6 million through Oct. 28.
Time and generous courtroom settlements may allow Mostyn to one day catch up to Perry's lifetime donation total. Which isn't a bad thing if you think you have cornered the market on stones.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or email@example.com.
Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.