This is the money the Koch Brothers are investing in Oregon politics this year. So far:
|candidate committee||Koch $|
|Friends of Ted Ferrioli||$7,000|
|Committee to Elect Jason Conger||$1,000|
|Tim Knopp for State Senate||$7,000|
|Boquist Leadership Fund||$5,000|
|Friends of Vic Gilliam||$1,000|
|Friends of Bill Kennemer||$1,000|
|Friends of Bruce Hanna||$5,000|
|Friends of Andy Olson||$5,000|
|Friends of Mark Johnson||$1,000|
|Kevin Cameron for Oregon||$3,000|
|Citizens for Jim Thompson||$1,000|
|Committee to Elect Doug Whitsett||$1,500|
|Committee to Elect Mike McLane||$5,000|
|Friends of Julie Parrish||$1,000|
(The contribution to Parrish was originally entered as a contribution from the Koch Industries, which is how the Bros send out their money. She has since amended it as a contribution from Georgia Pacific Financial Management LLC, which, of course, the Koch Brothers own. In fact, the amended transaction (ID 1344321) includes, in the description field, “aka Koch Industries”. To date, this is the only contribution made by GPFM in 2012.)
The thing to note about these contributions: Apart from Parrish, they are not going to contested races. They are going to safe seats and GOP leaders. In other words, guys that don't need money from outside of Oregon. Here’s a look at how much they’ve raised just in 2012, how much they’ve spent and how much cash they have on-hand (as of noon-ish, Oct 2, when I last checked ORESTAR):
|Friends of Ted Ferrioli||$125,961||$104,658||$52,619|
|Committee to Elect Jason Conger||$264,534||$206,272||$88,877|
|Tim Knopp for State Senate||$317,320||$253,896||$63,448|
|Boquist Leadership Fund||$105,605||$53,803||$81,922|
|Friends of Vic Gilliam||$65,290||$55,029||$33,440|
|Friends of Bill Kennemer||$93,543||$56,749||$81,185|
|Friends of Bruce Hanna||$446,845||$355,276||$228,302|
|Friends of Andy Olson||$169,768||$133,435||$107,889|
|Friends of Mark Johnson||$119,439||$105,827||$32,123|
|Kevin Cameron for Oregon||$136,587||$160,103||$54,427|
|Citizens for Jim Thompson||$72,060||$50,943||$59,297|
|Committee to Elect Doug Whitsett||$92,778||$129,573||$15,694|
|Committee to Elect Mike McLane||$152,435||$117,253||$48,692|
|Friends of Julie Parrish||$224,477||$181,967||$67,739|
Remember: Apart from Parrish, none of these guys (and apart from Parrish, they are all guys) are in a contested race. Far from it. Like most state legislators, like most incumbents who’ve not been found hiking the Appalachian Trail or ready to become lobbyists and score the big bucks, these guys are in seats that, to call them “safe”, is to also note that stars are way, way up there in the sky.
So why give them thousands? Two reasons. One, so they can launder the donations for the Koch Brothers. Pure and simple. Along with the scam of third-party “in-kind donations,” this is how big money is funneled into Oregon politics. This is how GOP leaders are attempting to isolate their vulnerable candidates from the slime of Koch money — as many voters might characterize it.
(And yes, the Democrats move money around and use in-kind. I’ll be looking at the overall picture later on; campaign finance reform is vital, and the Dems have to move it forward.)
Not merely a rabbit hole, but a warren
The above tables only show a few of the players. Here’s the broad outline of who is involved in campaign expenditures:
- The parties: DPO & RPO
- The causcuses: R & D House & Senate committees
- Candidate committees
- Donors (individuals & businesses)
That may seem straight-forward, but we’re talking about 2 party committees, 4 caucus committees, at least 180 candidate committees (assuming 1 each, incumbent and challneger), goddess-knows how many PACs, and as many donors as want to play, both in Oregon and out-of-state. And here’s what we’re talking about when we talk about “finances”:
- cash contributions
- in-kind (services rendered)
- “other” (eg, the fair-market cost of a fund raising dinner, merchandise, etc)
Again, that may seem clear, but then we get to this:
- Donors can give to parties, caucuses, candidates & PACs
- PACs can give to parties, caucuses & candidates
- Contributions can be cash or services (ie, in-kind)
- Candidates can give their funds (and perform in-kind) to just about anything electiony
- So can the parties & caucuses
- An “in-kind” contribution requires almost no detail
- PACs usually are clear about who they serve; that’s not always the case
- A “donor” can be anyone or anything; there is no law to prevent a person or corporation from setting up a shell company to serve as the conduit of donations
Ok, so where does this leave us? Let’s get back to the recipients of Koch Brothers’ down-payment on services to be rendered by Republican minions.
Andy Olson doesn't need $5000 for his campaign; he just needs to file the paperwork to get re-elected in that district. As it is, he’s raised $170k in 2012 and has most of that left in the bank. But he’s also the new House Republican Leader. All caucus leaders are responsible for doing serious fundraising, and, since he needs to spend very little of his funds on his own race, he will be able to dole out his campaign funds to other candidates, to PACs, and to the GOP (which it appears few people, including Olson, are doing; Allen Alley’s only raised $50k this year). So when someone in Olson’s House District 15 writes a check to him expecting that contribution will fund Olson’s campaign, what it’s really doing is filling a campaign “war chest” that can be used however Olson wants.
And let’s be crystal clear: This is a fault with Oregon law, not with particular individuals or parties. So far, Oregon legislators (and citizen activists) have failed to find a formula that meets constitutional muster and are less likely to do so in the wake of Citizens United. The true ethical flaw in this under current law would be to solicit campaign funds “for me” knowing full well the donations are going all over the state. My representative, Lew Frederick, a member of the House Dems leadership, has informed donors of this when I’ve heard him speak. This is the proper behavior for candidates.
Citizens have to hold them accountable.
But back to the Koch Brothers.
David and Charles Koch are the 4th richest Americans, at $31B each (combined, they’d be #2 behind Bill Gates’ $66B). Along with other billionaire right-wing ideologues, they are attempting to buy the 2012 election. They are the major funding source behind the Tea Party, and they are pouring money into races across the country the way McDonalds is pouring fatty, salty calories down American gullets. They are not funding a broad-based, grassroots, citizen-led movement; they are two rich individuals paying candidates and activists to do as they are instructed.
And to date, in Oregon, that purchase price is $74,500. One-third of that has been handed to AOI, Associated Oregon Industries, the GOP’s most loyal and highest-yielding PAC. $1,000 of that was redirected by Parrish to look like a Georgia Pacific contribution, as noted above; it is, however, Koch money. Several GOP electeds got $1,000-$3,000 each. The leaders of the party in the House got five grand each. (Since I started drafting this post, Sen Ted Ferrioli, GOP Senate Leader, received $7,000.)
Thousands of dollars none of them need. But it’s money they can use to help win other races. The trick is, finding out where that money goes.
On September 18, Andy Olson made a contribution of $15,000 to the Promote Oregon Leadership PAC; that’s the Rs’ version of Future PAC. (The former is the House GOP caucus’ PAC; the latter is the House Dems.) This makes a total of $49K for 2012; in 2010, he gave $57K to the Promote PAC. As a member of Republican House caucus, and especially now as one of its leaders, this is part of his responsibilities — but not, of course, part of his job as State Representative for HD 15. This is bonus service he offers on his own dime.
Well, on 50,000 Koch dimes.
What is the Promote PAC spending its money on? (Or is that Olson’s? Kochs’? Linn County donors?)
- $19,000 for a media buy
- $7,900 for polling (that in turn was an in-kind donation for the Kathy LeCompte (ID 13963) campaign
- $1,000 for polling (also in-kind for Parrish)
- $4,500 each to 4 non-incumbent candidates
- $1,046 to send out postcards
- $3,265 for temp workers (canvassers, I’d guess)
- $20,000 media buy for Dwight Coons’ campaign (in-kind, of course)
- $20,000 cash to Dwight Coons
- $74,000 cash & $74,000 in-kind to Joe Pishioneri
- varying amounts for staffers for candidates (Parrish, Thompson and others)
And so on. Regular political/campaign expenditures, some of which benefits candidates who face tough fights. Candidates like Julie Parrish who has $67,739 cash on hand and whose opponent has $60,524 on-hand. But here’s part of the fun of playing “Share the Wealth” in GOP leadership circles. Here are some other contributions from Promote PAC:
- $2,500 to Kevin Cameron’s campaign — $73,000 on-hand
- $5,000 Kim Thatcher (a safe seat with $8,700 on-hand)
- $10,000 to Bruce Hanna — $264,172 on-hand
- $1,500 to Gene Whitsett — $11,154 on-hand (also got $1,500 from Koch)
- $5,000 to John Huffman — $51,312 on-hand
(Disclosure: these numbers are changing daily. Tim Freeman reported $10,000 promote on the 10th. This post should not be taken as comprehensive or current. I am as accurate as I can be based on what’s in ORESTAR when I last checked it.)
Promote PAC has over $193K on-hand. They have to spend that money. They’ve raised it to win the House and the Senate, not to mention prepare for the 2014 gubernatorial defeat race. Giving non-incumbents a chunk of cash or making media buys for them makes sense. Giving Bruce Hanna ten grand? Whaaaaa?
Meanwhile, the Koch money simply disappears into the wash. Hanna’s $5K from the Kochs is a drop in his bucket of $405,005 raised in 2012. This is insignificant money; the $25,000 they gave to AOI is a tenth of the right-wing business association’s 2012 take and not really significant given how much cash these candidates, PACs and committees have on-hand.
Which brings us to the second reason that the leaders of the Oregon Republicans caucus are accepting Koch Brothers money they don’t need: They are telling the Kochs, and Oregon, that they are fully committed to the Kochs’ anti-democracy agenda. Every one of these Republicans who pocket the Koch money — and that includes Julie Parrish who repurposed her Koch dollars as Georgia Pacific and fooled no one — is stating that when it comes to a choice between Oregon or the machinations of a couple of silver-spoon corporatist democracy-haters, they are happy to take the money and run. Even before accepting the me-first money of the Kochs, this small group of Republicans already had over $1 million cash on-hand. When Bruce Hanna, Andy Olson, Julie Parrish and other Republicans accept checks from the Kochs, it’s not about fundraising.
It’s about right-wing Republicans putting a national anti-government, anti-democracy agenda in front of their duty to serve the people of Oregon.