It’s About Them, Not Us

Vote wisely anyway

By Dave Skinner

I’ve seen a number of attack ads screaming “not for us,” “bad for us,” “sold us out,” which has me asking – who is “us?”

For example, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) is running attack spots claiming Steve Daines puts “money over us.” Well, data from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) website (still a hard-to-decipher clunker – probably deliberately), DSCC’s “us” has nothing to do with Montana.

DSCC is a party committee, subject to contribution limits. Contributors are allowed to make a total of $106,500 for each election, both years in a two-year cycle, further broken up into chunks of $35,500 a pop for “recount,” “primary,” and I suppose “general.”

From the start of 2019 until August 31, 2020, DSCC took in $165 million from 574,000 contributions. However, FEC records reveal that some 964 “maximum” checks, paid in by a whopping 76 donors, brought in $34.2 million. I’m not paid enough to break things down fully, but I also found a solid block of 350 $10,000 checks – another $35 million. Clearly, DSCC’s big money is coming from big checks – from “us” in Montana, right?

Bzzzt. Wrong. Just the first page of DSCC donors pops up George Soros, New York “business executive.” He maxed out both in 2019 and 2020, four big checks. Then there’s Pat Stryker, a medical billion heiress whose cash has singlehandedly converted Colorado into purple haze. Also interesting, while the Puyallup Tribe of Indians didn’t max out, they were good for $101,000.

At random, I found something pretty weird, accidentally clicking FEC’s entry for Jacob Cappell of New York. He’s “web producer” at the Simons Foundation, but was able to give $106,500 for a “primary” in October of 2019. Really? Why? Well, it might be that the foundation was endowed by James H. Simons – yep, another billionaire.

Turns out James H. Simons coincidentally also maxed out with $106,500 for a “primary” and, by the way, contributed another paltry $104,000 to DSCC for a “recount” the very same day in June 2019. Small world, right? Oh my, yes – listed right after Jacob is Audrey Cappell. She gave DSCC $106,500 the same day as Jacob. So – was I surprised to learn Audrey is James H’s daughter? Are you?

Do any DSCC donors qualify as actually one of “us?” As in Montanans? Barely. The first “Montana” contributor I found was Sen. Jon Tester’s Treasure State PAC, listed as the very last $10,000 contributor, number 404 on DSCC’s list. I scrolled to 1,000, with Treasure State PAC popping up twice more. It’s not until contributor #670, from Bozeman, that any Montanan gives – 500 bucks, and he’s the only one – of “us.”

DSCC isn’t the only entity abusing the “us” gambit. The GOP Senate Leadership Fund and Democratic SMP (Senate Majority Project) are doing the same thing, with Leadership collecting $166 million and SMP $183 million between January 2019 and the end of August 2020.

In service of “balance” and space, I’ll focus on the Republican super PAC.

Senate Leadership Fund, associated with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, took in a tiny 334 contributions total, with 150 being over $100,000, many from familiar names.

Vegas casino billionaire couple Sheldon and Miriam Adelson tossed $50 million into Mitch’s kitty. Steven Schwartzman (Blackstone Group): $20 million. Tim Mellon (Mellon Bank): $17.5 million. So, just these four people, all billionaires, and none from Montana, gave $87.5 million to SLF, just over half all its dough.

Down the list, we see a million bucks from the JWC III Revocable Trust in Tulsa, Oklahoma. JWC is apparently Joseph W. Craft the third, billionaire CEO of coal mining company Alliance Resource Partners. Then there’s a million from ConocoPhillips. Yep, evil Koch Industries gave too, $750,000. Contributor 334, from Alabama, gave fifty bucks – and of course, not one of “us,” meaning actual Montanans, gave a cent.

Keep in mind, FEC records for SMP show a similar pattern of giant checks from billionaires and corporations – and yes, unions are corporations. Did any Montanans give to SMP? Yep, there’s one guy from Whitefish, #332, who gave $10,000.

Seems this election isn’t about us at all, is it? It’s not, but vote wisely anyway.

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