SCOTUS McCutcheon Ruling: Win For Establishment & PAC Man Dan Backer

SCOTUS McCutcheon Ruling: Win For Establishment & PAC Man Dan Backer

This week’s Supreme Court decision in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC is a victory for the political establishment class in Washington D.C. and a big setback for regular citizens. It’s being sold to conservatives as a victory for free speech, but buyer beware: you’re being sold down the river.

If you do much reading about the recent Supreme Court McCutcheon decision, one thing that you’ll hear over and over is how the decision doesn’t impact the amount of money that can be given to any single candidate, just the aggregate limit. This means that if George Soros or Charles Koch want to get money to their favorite candidates, they are still limited to only giving $5200 to them per campaign cycle. McCutcheon advocates say all McCutcheon did is remove the aggregate limit–the total amount that can be given to all candidates.

It’s a common argument by advocates of McCutcheon that this limits the influence that a gazillionaire can have, so don’t worry–we’re still safe from corruption, because people are still limited to only giving $5200 to a candidate and a measly five grand is hardly going to buy much influence.

Well, that argument is a tub of radioactive poop; the McCuctheon decision will allow (insert rich person you hate) to give as much money to (insert candidate you hate) as they want to.

That’s because the decision also lifts the aggregate limit on the amount of money that can given to PACs–political action committees–and that’s where the shenanigans kick in.

The whole trick is to use PACs to funnel money to candidates. This can be done very directly; when a donor maxes out on direct giving to a candidate, they send money to a PAC and then that PAC passes the money onto the politician. This workaround has already been happening and the aggregate limit of about $75,000 had the effect of the keeping this in check.

After McCutcheon,there’s nothing keeping someone from giving a PAC a million dollars and then having that PAC disperse that money through a couple of hundred different PACs to a candidate.

This makes situation much worse because it creates a much more opaque system. (My personal issue on campaign finance isn’t about money, primarily — it’s about transparency.)

Okay, you may be saying–but who wants to set up hundred of PACs and handle the all that money shuffling?

One obvious answer is Dan Backer, the attorney behind McCutcheon v. FEC.

McCutcheon is a absolute boon for his business at DB Capitol Strategies. He already is the treasurer for at least thirty PACs including The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund and Sen. Tim Scott’s TIM PAC.

Here’s the apparent Backer business model; Backer can control both expenditures and compliance. In other words, he can control where the money goes and at the same time make sure that the paperwork is all on the up and up for the Federal Election Commission. Because he’s a lawyer, he can claim attorney-client privilege and clam up if anyone comes snooping around and trying to uphold the law.

If you doubt that an attorney / treasurer like Backer would take such a hands on, direct role in operations of a PAC, look no further than the current election going on in Ohio where my interview with Tea Party backed candidate Eric Gurr revealed that Dan Backer himself travelled to Ohio in his role with The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund to play kingmaker among the candidates vying to unseat John Boehner.

Then factor in how Backer funneled Tea Party donor money to establishment GOP leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn. And then remember that Backer worked with Breitbart News to discredit my reporting on that story, as I explain in this video.

Our political system is rigged by attorneys and politicians so they can all get rich. Meanwhile, our country declines. Don’t be fooled by their marketing.

5 Comments

  1. So at the same time Backer’s trying to appear like a successful big-shot attorney, he’s advertising for UNPAID law clerks on Craigslist: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/lgl/4405190901.html

    What an opportunity! Now setting aside whether this is a labor law violation and should be reported to the Department of Labor, let’s do some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations. Let’s conservatively assume Backer has 30 PAC clients. Each of those clients must be paying $1,000-2,000 a month for compliance services. That’s $30,000 to 60,000 per month in top-line revenue, or $360,000 to 720,000 annually. All the revenue from Advisory Opinion Requests with the FEC, litigation like McCutcheon, etc. – that’s all gravy on top. I estimate that he’s making $2,000 to 6,000 per month extra from non-compliance revenue. That’s another $24,000 to 72,000 in the Backer pockets. Quite a bit of scratch to be unable to pay your employees a dime.

    Reply
  2. Key question, Lee: Setting aside Backer’s ethics, do you or do you not agree with the SCOTUS decision?

    I sincerely hope you are not agreeing that rulings on constitutional rights ought to be outcome-based.

    Reply
    • I think it was a bad decision because it’s very unrealistic about the impact of lifting aggregate limits.

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      • That’s the kind of answer I was hoping I wouldn’t get.

        So Dan Backer has set himself up as the go-to guy to shovel bigger money into campaigns. Somebody was going to make the most of it, just as they always have jerry-rigged their way around money limits.

        There is not one word about campaign financing in the Constitution, but freedom of speech is first and foremost. Your stance is akin to encouraging further infringement on speech because people might say something with which you disagree. That’s the kind of thing that’s happening in Russia (when it comes to pro-gay speech) and in Canada (when it comes to anti-gay speech).

        I have no problem with you exposing Backer’s duplicity in claiming to be the The Man Who Takes Down The Establishment as he takes money from Tea Party Peter to pay RINO Paul. More power to you. But suggesting that the Court should’ve decided differently about bedrock principles because Backer is an unworthy victor is, in my opinion, outrageous.

        Reply
        • Did you want to hear a reason?

          Or did you want to judge before I said anything?

          Apparently the latter.

          Reply

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