Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bernie's dirty money

Bernie Sanders is running out of money. Down to six million.

Under normal circumstances, this would be The End. A campaign with no real hope of winning the nomination isn't likely to do well at fundraising.

But these are not normal circumstances. As I've noted in the past, Bernie money is funny money. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, a campaign funded by small donations is more likely to be crooked.

Donations under $50 are totally anonymous. If you have a million bucks you want to stuff in a politician's pocket, you can hire someone to ding that "donate" button all day long. Ding ding ding ding. It's not like the old days when Howard Hughes met with Hubert Humphrey in the back of a limo and literally handed over a bag of cash. (Yes, that happened.)

In fact, donations of greater than $50 are still easy to hide, because the campaigns are self-policing. Call up the FEC, as I did: You'll be directed to the page in the handbook where it says, in essence, "You're on your own. We trust you to follow the rules."

The FEC is ridiculously under-funded, yet they've still managed to cite the Sanders campaign for serious violations. See here and here.

Some of you may recall 2008, when the Obama campaign was caught receiving multiple donations from the same party. Donations went well beyond the $250 limit requiring a receipt. (There were other shennanigans. Water under the bridge, I suppose.)

(Beyond all of that, there are plenty of ways to get money to someone anonymously. One of these days, I should tell you about a scheme I stumbled across involving insanely overpriced pseudobooks sold via Amazon.)

The Republicans announced from the start that they would prefer to run against Sanders. And even though he will not win the nomination, they want him to drag Hillary to the far left. They know that the way for a candidate to win in this country is to appeal to the base in the primaries and then veer toward the center in the general. The Sanders cult prevents Hillary from doing that.

So let me run some numbers past you. I want to know if this sounds on-the-level to you. From the Washington Post, last April:
Before Wisconsin, the vote total in most of the states that have cast ballots stood at 8,917,681 votes for Clinton and 6,378,821 votes for Sanders. That put Clinton ahead by 2,538,860 votes, according to a tally maintained by RealClearPolitics.
Let's not get into the argument over how to include votes from the caucus states. (Although you can count me among the many who say that caucuses deserve to die.) Right now, let's work with the number of 6.4 million votes, give or take.

A reader sent me a copy of a Bernie fundraising email. An excerpt:
Then a supporter from Chicago, Illinois made the first contribution to our campaign — for $3. A few minutes later, $50 from a supporter in California, then $10 from someone in Georgia. A little more than 12 months later, I am humbled to share that our campaign has received more than 7.6 million contributions through April, more than any presidential candidate at this point in a campaign ever.
I hope you all understand that, through the magic of VPNs, the same person can donate from Illinois, Chicago, and California.

But what really interests me here is that figure: 7.6 million contributions.

Of course, small donors are likely to donate more than once. But the IRS limit is soon reached. So my question is: Does this donor-to-voter ratio seem right to you?

6.4 million actual votes versus 7.6 million separate donations.

Is that an indication of the ding ding ding ding phenomenon, to which I alluded earlier?

An obscene double standard. From a liberal website, this headline: "It’s Obscene That No One Calls Bernie Sanders on His FEC Troubles"

I can guess the BernieBot reaction: "That site must be the work of the Evil Clinton Conspiracy!" Yeesh. Cultists always have a "go-to" answer for everything, don't they? It's like talking to a Scientologist or a fundamentalist: "If you insist on telling me something I don't want to hear, IT'S A CONSPIRACY!"

You know you're dealing with a cult when ad hominem is the only argument they've got. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bots, but if there is any conspiracy here, it's a conspiracy to stuff money in Bernie's pockets:
Senator Sanders has the benefit of not having his character, or his record for that matter, attacked by the Clinton campaign while he has spent months depicting Clinton as untrustworthy and corrupted by special interests. He particularly never misses an opportunity to rail against Clinton’s “obscene” campaign fundraising at about the same frequency he’s railed on congressional Democrats as being “disingenuous” and “corporate shills” for not embracing or adopting his campaign agenda.

What is curious is how the Vermont senator can criticize the Clinton campaign when he has been the recipient of three Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigations while no-one has called him ‘corrupt’ or his campaign’s fundraising obscene. There is no doubt if the Clinton campaign had faced even one FEC investigation, Sanders’ campaign would have had a field day portraying what they had been calling “obscene” as outright corruption and likely criminal acts.

The latest problem with Senator Sander’s March filings is not unique, or the first, or the second of his campaign. The Senator has had fundraising “abnormalities” since July that are similar to his February filing. Each of the FEC letters cite pages and pages worth of serious issues that his opponent has not seized upon as evidence the Senator is running an obscene fundraising campaign.

Democrats are not prone to demean a fellow Democrat’s character and it is an inclination many Democrats wish Senator Sanders would embrace. His months-long defamation crusade against Hillary Clinton has borne fruit the Republican Party is more than happy to use.
Why does the NRA fund Sanders? Let's also look at the NRA factor -- but before we do, I really suggest that you read our previous post, the one that touches on Roger Stone's possible involvement in the 1980 "Debategate" scandal. The story focused on certain poker parties attended by Roger Stone and run by David Keene -- at the time, an adviser to both Reagan and Poppy Bush.

Keene was the president of the NRA 2011-2013. He was also the head of the American Conservative Union. (Check 'em out. Tom DeLay? Yow!)
For example, besides the several FEC investigations into his campaign’s fundraising abnormalities, no-one has called out the Senator benefiting from NRA campaign donations and then voting according to its wishes.

As reported in the Washington Post, a few days before Election Day in 1990 the National Rifle Association bought in to the Sanders’ campaign for a House seat and sent a letter to its 12,000 members in Vermont with an urgent message about “voting for the socialist.” The NRA’s campaign mailing was written by none other than the top official at the National Rifle Association then and now, Wayne La Pierre. La Pierre wrote, “Bernie Sanders is a more honorable choice for Vermont sportsmen than (his opponent) Republican Peter Smith.”

The NRA assistance helped elect Sanders to the House and this is noteworthy because unlike Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders cannot claim the he never “did the bidding of a donor or benefactor.” Bernie’s NRA-favorable voting record on gun control speaks for itself. Still, no-one, particularly no-one in the Clinton campaign has accused him of being a corrupt gun industry shill or bought and paid for by special interests.
The facts are inarguable: Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, is the one fueled by dirty money. You may not like some of the people who have donated to Hillary, but her campaign is transparent. Bernie is as transparent as concrete.

A final note: Did you know that, in just one month, Bernie paid $800,000 to slick, establishment campaign consultant Tad Devine, best known for his work on behalf of Israel's Ehud Barak and Monsanto?
You don't have to hire a person to click multiple donations. You only have to hire a person to create automatic donation software. Or just buy it. It's probably easy to get.
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