Meet the Obama Super-PAC mega-donors

posted at 9:31 pm on July 5, 2012 by Karl

National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes that so far, the super-PAC founded by top Obama staffers and its aligned “independent” groups are outspending groups that oppose the president by roughly two to one:

Priorities USA Action, founded by Obama’s former deputy White House press secretary, Bill Burton; Sean Sweeney, the former chief of staff to Rahm Emanuel; and Harold Ickes, who was deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. This super PAC has spent $13.5 million in opposition to Romney so far, outspending all the super-PAC efforts opposing the president combined. While Priorities USA Action is often described as a “pro-Obama” super PAC in news coverage, it has yet to spend a single penny that it categorizes as “supporting” President Obama; all of its spending is classified as “opposing” Mitt Romney.

This news is not fit to print in a lengthy piece by Robert Draper for The New York Times Magazine, ironically titled “Can the Democrats Catch Up in the Super-PAC Game?” However, that is merely one of many sins of omission from the NYT in the piece. Readers will be treated to what is mostly a puff piece about the people behind the main Obama super-PAC, and very little about those donating. Suffice it to say that if you donate to a rightie super-PAC, the New York Times will give you the media version of a colonoscopy, usually involving Nicholas Confessore. Just ask Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, or Joe Ricketts. NYT staffers will dig and dig in their quest to expose “the Republican Party’s elite donor class.

When it comes to Priorities USA, however, the Times gets tight-lipped. The one donor the NYT Magazine mentions at any length is “a wealthy and left-leaning 41-year-old Houston lawyer named Steve Mostyn,” who is “a frequent giver to Democratic causes.” That is one way of putting it. In contrast, here is how the Washington Examiner put it:

Steve Mostyn, a Texas trial lawyer who made his fortune in hurricane damage lawsuits, contributed $10 million to Democrats in the 2010 cycle, mostly at the state and local levels. The large-scale influence-buying scheme failed when Democrats were crushed that November. Trial lawyers like Mostyn were rolled in the following legislative session. New hurricane insurance reforms chipped away at an apparently cozy relationship between the state-run hurricane insurer and trial lawyers who were suing it and taking 67 percent attorneys’ fees at settlement.

Texas’ Democratic Party is in shambles today, despite tens of millions in trial lawyer money that was invested to rebuild it. This year, Democrats failed even to field a credible candidate for U.S. Senate. And so to avoid throwing too much good money after bad, Mostyn and other trial lawyers changed their strategy. Instead of going all-out for the Democrats, they found and funded friendly Republicans to run in the contests that were decided this week. They concentrated especially on two open-seat state Senate races where they saw an opportunity to install Republican friends of the trial bar. They made huge individual contributions to candidates, and funneled millions more through PACs mostly connected to Mostyn, with deceptive names like “Conservative Voters of Texas,” “Texans for Insurance Reform” and “Texans for Individual Rights.”

Indeed, Mostyn is president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. That context might have given NYT readers reason to question whether the Mostyn’s protests about super-PACs and the Citizens United decision were on the level.

The NYT notes in passing that Priorities USA received $2 million in seed money from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation. The piece does not mention what you might learn from the Sunlight Foundation:

Katzenberg was a guest at a Feb. 14 luncheon hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Xi Jinjing, the current vice president and all-but-certain next president of the People’s Republic of China. Katzenberg wasn’t just there to offer a valentine; he told the Financial Times that he needed Xi’s personal approval of a deal he had arranged with three state-owned media firms to create a Chinese-based studio that hopes to launch its first feature film in 2016.

Biden and Xi hammered out an agreement on the last day of the Chinese vice president’s trip to the United States. According to — wait for it — the NYT, Katzenberg also helped forge the agreement, which is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into whether some of Hollywood’s biggest movie studios have made illegal payments to officials in China to gain the right to film and show movies there.

Or how about million-dollar donor Franklin Haney? A Tennessee real estate mogul, Haney has a well-documented record of scandals, fines, and indictments for alleged violations of federal campaign law. Although ultimately found not guilty, Haney did not dispute charges he illegally reimbursed friends, relatives and business associates for making more than $200,000 in contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaigns in 1992 and 1996 — he claimed to be ignorant of the law. No doubt Haney is as outraged as the Mostyns over the influence of secret big money in presidential politics.

Of course, the ridiculously partisan framing of news by the New York Times is not news. Nevertheless, this instance is worth documenting. After all, should Romney win, stories like this are already advancing the Establishment mindset — so present in the bogus reporting on the Wisconsin recall elections — that the GOP wins because it “buys elections” (having conveniently forgotten how much Obama outspent McCain in 2008). Then, after having flogged the narrative that GOP victories are not legitimate, the same media organs will complain that the Republicans are to blame for the ensuing political polarization.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comments

I like the Palin wink photo much better….

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:32 PM

It’s like Obama is looking through a scope..

Weird..

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:34 PM

And he is an amateur at it..

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Anyway..back on topic..

Money would be necessary in a campaign if all Americans had money..

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Are my posts being redirected to the Green Room? :)

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Money would be necessary in a campaign if all Americans had money..

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Would = wouldn’t..

Corrected that myself…since no one is here to correct it for me..

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:37 PM

For a good time copy paste “obama money politics” into youtube search bar.

tom daschle concerned on July 5, 2012 at 9:38 PM

KOOLAID2!

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Gosh why can’t we get tort reform?

Speakup on July 5, 2012 at 9:40 PM

For a good time copy paste “obama money politics” into youtube search bar.

tom daschle concerned on July 5, 2012 at 9:38 PM

I did…
Do you want me to watch??

‘Cause…
I can’t.

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:41 PM

I did…
Do you want me to watch??

‘Cause…
I can’t.

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Nah I was simply amused by all the libbies on video whining about money in politics, including Obama himself…

They have no sense of irony.

tom daschle concerned on July 5, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Nah I was simply amused by all the libbies on video whining about money in politics, including Obama himself…

They have no sense of irony.

tom daschle concerned on July 5, 2012 at 9:43 PM

No kidding..

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 9:46 PM

It’s a tough time to be a gouging trial lawyer in Texas these days. Tort reform has seriously threatened their access to the trough. Plowing tens of millions of their own money into efforts to roll back tort reform makes a great deal of sense.

Of course the voters are solidly against rolling it back but for these boys a couple of big wins in between congressional sessions is all they need to pay off the loan on the new resort and the private jet. Then it’s ‘Apres-moi la deluge!’.

CorporatePiggy on July 5, 2012 at 9:47 PM

The hypocrisy doesn’t even bother them.

GarandFan on July 5, 2012 at 9:51 PM

i’d love to set up a blind date with someone’s chicklet teeth and a wrench.

GhoulAid on July 5, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Brad Pitt’s mother is an angel sent from heaven. Jon Voight and Jane Pitt are conservatives!`

the new aesthetic on July 5, 2012 at 9:55 PM

When Mitt grants waivers to all 57 states on day Won and then works to repeal ObamaTax he will find himself boss of 16,500 IRS agents that he should unleash on these super pac contributors, bundlers, All govt agencies and departments with the goal of raising funds to pay down the debt and close and pare back agencies and departments reducing the size and scope of the federal govt by 40%!

Say it Mitt go big, big guy. We The People hate Big Government and want them put back on a leash!

ConcealedKerry on July 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM

National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes that so far, the super-PAC founded by top Obama staffers and its aligned “independent” groups are outspending groups that oppose the president by roughly two to one:

Priorities USA Action, founded by Obama’s former deputy White House press secretary, Bill Burton; Sean Sweeney, the former chief of staff to Rahm Emanuel; and Harold Ickes, who was deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. This super PAC has spent $13.5 million in opposition to Romney so far, outspending all the super-PAC efforts opposing the president combined. While Priorities USA Action is often described as a “pro-Obama” super PAC in news coverage, it has yet to spend a single penny that it categorizes as “supporting” President Obama; all of its spending is classified as “opposing” Mitt Romney.

But if Priorities USA Action is outspending super PACS that “oppose Obama” or support Romney, yet Romney brought in $100 million last month, is Romney hoarding his resources for a massive blitz in the fall? Or is Romney trying to patiently build up a “ground game” in the swing states, like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin?

Romney wasn’t afraid to greatly outspend his opponents during the primary, but he may be using a “slow burn rate” over the summer, when people aren’t paying attention, in order to overwhelm Obama with a larger warchest in September and October, when elections are won or lost. Time will tell whether or not this is a good strategy.

Steve Z on July 5, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Money = access to politicians.

Who knew, right?

PappyD61 on July 5, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Money = access to politicians.

Who knew, right?

PappyD61 on July 5, 2012 at 10:11 PM

I don’t know..

I didn’t have enough money…

Electrongod on July 5, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Liberal super pac money is actually certified by the U.S. Mint as “good and beneficial” while conservative super pac dough is evil and will give you the Runny Green Syphilis.

Bishop on July 5, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Electrongod on July 5, 2012

…you were on a roll bud!…NYT’s stop you?

KOOLAID2 on July 5, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Strong advertising doesn’t guarantee a movie will be a box-office hit. Super PAC spending won’t guarantee a second term for Obama either.

HoosierStateofMind on July 5, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Yet another conservative hit piece on private citizens’ god given right to spend millions of dollars buying elections.

On a more serious note, is this guy for real? Adelson alone has given 10 million to Romney with a promise of “limitless” future support and here we have Karl crying over 13 million?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2012/06/13/exclusive-adelsons-pro-romney-donations-will-be-limitless-could-top-100m/

lester on July 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

How much did Medvedev/Putin give Bam-Bam? For “flexibility” ?

More than Bam-Bam gave Just-Us Roberts?

viking01 on July 5, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Hollywood is well practiced in wining and dining and bribing to get what they want right here! In the US, the movie business gets up and movies every couple of years to a new state. Every time they get a tax incentive, like 35% of the movie budget in some states, they move there. When the jobs don’t materialize they leave. On to the next state.

Michigan, New Mexico — they all bought the boondoggle. I’ll bet some of the pols that inked the deal saw campaign contributions too.

PattyJ on July 5, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Texas’ Democratic Party is in shambles today

I don’t believe statements like this. Reminds me of Hannity who still calls the Jeremiah Wright tapes “devastating.” I guess winning in a landslide is the result of being “devastated.”

mankai on July 6, 2012 at 1:11 AM

The Globe is working overtime to distort the facts, and do anything possible to help Obama:

“GOP winning race for funds
Super PACs backing Democrats lag badly in multimillion gifts”

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/05/democrats_lag_in_super_pac_race_for_million_dollar_contributions/

shanimal on July 6, 2012 at 5:54 AM

On a more serious note, is this guy for real? Adelson alone has given 10 million to Romney with a promise of “limitless” future support and here we have Karl crying over 13 million? lester on July 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

Adelson makes $3M an hour.

I don’t know if that’s 24/7 or 8/5, but you get the picture.

Hey, if these guys are playing by the rules we need some on our side too, until the rules are changed.

Akzed on July 6, 2012 at 9:43 AM

This causes me to wonder if Mostyn is pumping money into the Ted Cruz campaign as payback for David Dewhurst guiding Tort Reform through the Texas Legislature. It was the missing key to what is now called “The Texas Economic Miracle.”

Kermit on July 6, 2012 at 9:48 AM

mankai on July 6, 2012 at 1:11 AM

They cannot field a viable candidate for a statewide race, just like in Louisiana.

Kermit on July 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Steve Mostyn also came out with his own line of “Lawyer running shoes” to raise money for the Dems down here. As the ad said, “Great for chasing down ambulances or hurricane claims.”

Teacher in Tejas on July 6, 2012 at 11:09 AM

This causes me to wonder if Mostyn is pumping money into the Ted Cruz campaign as payback for David Dewhurst guiding Tort Reform through the Texas Legislature. It was the missing key to what is now called “The Texas Economic Miracle.”

Kermit on July 6, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Very interesting question, Kermit.

also, I didn’t know that Mostyn was backing my state senator Jeff Wentworth. I’ve always liked Jeff, but this is disturbing. Tort reform was a hard fought and critical victory. Now I’m wondering if I should vote for Jeff’s challenger Campbell in the primary runoff. .

juliesa on July 6, 2012 at 11:18 AM