Tag: campaign contribution

Crooked Donald Trump used his foundation to buy off Florida Attorney General

By Donald Trump’s own standard of using a personal or family foundation for corrupt purposes, Trump is even more crooked than the Clintons ever could be.

Amid all of the corporate media hullabaloo about the Clinton Foundation and their corrupt dealings is recent media attention to a 2014 fundraiser for Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which was hosted by Trump:

…In March 2014, Donald Trump opened his 126-room Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi. The Florida attorney general, who was facing a tough re-election campaign, had recently decided not to investigate Trump University.

Trump did not write a check to the attorney general that night. The previous fall, his personal foundation had given $25,000 to a pro-Bondi super PAC. But by hosting her fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and bringing in some of his own star power, Trump provided Bondi’s campaign with a nice financial boost.

Since he began his run for the White House, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Bondi is merely someone he has supported politically. But his fundraising efforts for her were extensive and varied: In addition to the $25,000 donation from his foundation and the star-studded Mar-a-Lago event, Trump and his daughter Ivanka each gave $500 to Bondi’s campaign in the fall of 2013. The following spring, Ivanka and her father donated another $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ― Bondi’s single biggest source of campaign funds.

The reason why Trump’s ties to Bondi have come under public scrutiny in recent days is because of a couple of reasons.

First, that $25,000 check from Trump’s personal foundation to And Justice For All, a pro-Bondi SuperPAC, was a violation of IRS rules for Trump and his foundation. The IRS levied a $2,500 penalty against Trump for the illegal campaign donation from his foundation.

Second, Trump got something that is, to use a Rod Blagojevich saying, (expletive) golden in return for his efforts in helping Bondi get re-elected. Bondi’s office is supposed to be responsible for processing complaints against the fraudulent Trump University and its fraudulent predecessor Trump Institute, both of which masqueraded as online higher education institutions. However, Bondi’s office has done virtually nothing with the complaints, while the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, which is currently held by Democrat George Jepsen, has successfully helped people refunds for people who are victims of Trump’s deceptive practices.

Donald Trump has been caught engaging in some of the most blatant political corruption I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Although I’m probably asking too much of the GOP-controlled Florida state government, the State of Florida should assign a special prosecutor to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed against Trump.

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How Wisconsin GOP state legislators encouraged Mylan to increase EpiPen prices for the entire country

Thanks to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC), a group that maintains a database of political contributions to state candidates in Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin progressive group Citizen Action of Wisconsin, we now know that a political action committee (PAC) for Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that, among other things, makes the EpiPen that is used to treat severe allergic reactions, has publicly lobbied Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass legislation designed to financially benefit the company. According to records from WDC, a total of ten members of the Wisconsin Legislature received campaign contributions from Mypac WI, the Wisconsin state-level PAC for Mylan’s political operations, seven of whom are still in the Legislature, and one of whom is now a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission:

Legislator Name Date Contribution Received House of Legis. At Time of Donation Amount
Last First Year Month Day
Edming James 2016 July 1 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
Craig David 2016 June 27 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
LeMahieu Devin 2015 November 17 Wisconsin State Senate $500
Vukmir Leah 2015 August 22 Wisconsin State Senate $500
Nygren John 2014 February 10 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
August Tyler 2014 January 18 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
Kramer Bill 2014 January 13 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Severson Erik 2014 January 7 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Steineke Jim 2014 January 7 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Strachota Pat 2014 January 2 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Name in italics indicates that individual is no longer a state legislator as of the writing of this blog post, but was a state legislator at the time donation was received; of the three who are no longer state legislators, Pat Strachota is now a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Table was created using the HTML table generator available here.

Mylan has also spent a total of $66,500 since 2013 lobbying Wisconsin legislators on issues “…affecting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of prescription drugs and medical devices”, as well as on issues “relating to generic pharmaceuticals”. According to Wisconsin lobbying records, Mylan spent $42,000 and a total of 151 hours on lobbying efforts in Wisconsin during the 2013-2014 state legislative session, and Mylan spent $24,500 and a total of 103 hours on lobbying efforts in Wisconsin during the 2015-2016 state legislative session. In both legislative sessions, Mylan’s sole authorized lobbyist was listed as Robert Welch.

Two pieces of legislation, both of which are now Wisconsin state law, were heavily supported by, and were designed to financially benefit, Mylan: 2013 Wisconsin Act 239, and 2015 Wisconsin Act 35. 2013 Wisconsin Act 239 allows for the availability of, and, in appropriate emergency situations, the use of “epinephrine auto-injectors” in Wisconsin public, private, and tribal schools. 2015 Wisconsin Act 35 allows for the availability of, and, in appropriate emergency situations, the use of “epinephrine auto-injectors” “by certain authorized entities”, which include recreational camps, educational camps, colleges, universities, day care facilities, youth sports leagues, amusement parks, restaurants, businesses, and sports arenas. Neither of the two laws require Mylan to justify price increases to government officials in Wisconsin, even though the laws authorize state and local government entities in Wisconsin to purchase and maintain EpiPens at the expense of Wisconsin taxpayers. While the two pieces of legislation serve a public purpose, given that timely dispensation of epinephrine can save the life of a person having a severe allergic reaction, given that Mylan’s EpiPen dominates the marketplace for epinephrine auto-injectors, and that EpiPen prices have risen dramatically as recently as earlier this month, it’s clear to me that Mylan’s political lobbying efforts in Wisconsin are designed to financially benefit the company, as well as financially benefit the political campaigns of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin.

I do not have any food allergies that require the use of epinephrine, but many Americans in all 50 states do. I find it disgusting that A) Mylan is drastically raising the price of a very important drug/device without any real justification and B) that, because of Mylan’s actions, taxpayers are being forced to spend more money than necessary on their medicine, which many people need. Furthermore, by not including any kind of accountability measure on Mylan that would have required Mylan to legally justify any kind of price increase to Wisconsin officials, Wisconsin Republicans have effectively encouraged Mylan to raise the price of EpiPens for the entire country.

Meet the Democrats who took Donald Trump’s money

I absolutely hate Ted Cruz’s guts. As a candidate for president, he has openly supported religious discrimination and does not believe in separation of church and state, for starters. He’s also what I consider to be the least electable Republican presidential candidate, except for maybe Jeb Bush or Ben Carson.

However, I will say one thing favorably about Ted Cruz, and that is the fact that his campaign is going after Donald Trump for propping up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party with his checkbook for many years. Granted, Cruz’s people aren’t all that great at spelling and grammar, but here’s the individuals and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party in some way, shape, and form:

  • Jimmy Carter – $1,000 – Carter was the 39th President of the United States, elected in 1976, lost re-election in 1980. Carter has not sought public office of any kind since losing the presidency. Carter has actually built a progressive reputation since leaving the White House, although he did deregulate the airline industry and gave out a huge capital gains tax cut to the wealthy as President.
  • Max Baucus – $2,000 – Baucus was appointed to the U.S. Senate after originally being elected to it in 1978 and represented Montana in the Senate until 2014, when he resigned to take a political appointment from President Barack Obama in order to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was notorious for being a virulent opponent of single-payer health care during his time in the Senate.
  • Shelley Berkley – $1,000 – Berkley served seven terms in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2013. Berkley represented the Las Vegas area of Nevada, where Trump has substantial business interests, in the House.
  • Joe Biden – $1,000 – Biden, who is from Delaware and represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for decades, is currently Vice President of the United States. Vice President Biden ran for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, losing both times; in fact, his first presidential campaign was derailed after he was caught plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
  • Erskine Bowles – $1,000 – Bowles, who is from North Carolina, served in multiple positions in the Bill Clinton Administration, and he also ran for U.S. Senate in North Carolina twice, losing both times. Bowles was one of the architects of the Simpson-Bowles austerity plan that included, among other things, cutting Social Security benefits.
  • Hillary Clinton – $9,500 – Hillary was a First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator from New York, and a U.S. Secretary of State. New York is Trump’s home state and a state where Trump has significant business interests. Hillary is currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, running against single-payer health care and reinstating Glass-Steagall financial regulations that kept commercial and investment banks separate. As Secretary of State, Hillary helped develop the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade giveaway that would allow Vietnam, a country where the average worker is paid far less than the average worker here in the U.S., to effectively dictate U.S. domestic policy by allowing investors to sue in special courts. Hillary also ran a presidential campaign in 2008, losing the Democratic nomination to now-President Obama after, among other things, she pandered to white racists throughout her campaign.
  • Tom Daschle – $4,000 – Daschle, who is from South Dakota, is a former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and he was Senate Minority Leader when he was defeated in the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota. Daschle was a lobbyist for the health care industry after leaving elected office, and he wrote a book opposing single-payer health care.
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – $116,000 – The DSCC is an entity established by the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for Senate seats.
  • Chris Dodd – $3,000 – Dodd is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Dodd ran for president in 2008, losing in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, and he’s now a lobbyist for the movie industry.
  • Democratic National Committee (DNC) – $15,000 – The DNC is the main national organization of the Democratic Party, currently chaired by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The DNC has openly tried to sabotage the Sanders presidential campaign, most notably by briefly cutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to the DNC voter file in violation of the contract between the Sanders campaign and the DNC vendor responsible for maintaining the DNC’s voter file.
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – $46,050 – The DCCC is an entity established by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for House seats. The DCCC ran web ads promoting President Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security benefits in 2013.
  • Dick Durbin – $1,500 – Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, representing Illinois. Illinois is a state where Trump has significant business interests.
  • Fritz Hollings – $3,000 – Hollings was a U.S. Senator from South Carolina for nearly four decades. Hollings had a history of making racist and anti-Semitic comments as a Senator. Hollings voted against the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Ted Kennedy – $7,000 – Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for over four and a half decades before dying in office in 2009. Kennedy ran against then-incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Democratic primaries and caucuses, losing the nomination to Carter. Kennedy supported the 2007 George W. Bush-backed immigration reform plan that would have established slavery-like guest worker programs, and he also supported the 2001 No Child Left Behind law that destroyed public education in America.
  • Patrick Kennedy – $2,500 – Kennedy, who is a son of Ted Kennedy, represented parts of Rhode Island in the U.S. House for nearly two decades. Kennedy is also a former DCCC chairman.
  • Harry Reid – $8,400 – Reid is currently U.S. Senate Minority Leader, representing Nevada in the Senate. Reid has publicly praised Trump in recent months, and he has called for the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which protects abortion and reproductive rights, to be overturned.
  • Rahm Emanuel – $50,000 – Emanuel is currently the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and, before that, he was a U.S. Representative and a DCCC chairman. Prior to his first mayoral bid, he was President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff. Rahm played a role in the cover-up of the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald, and he’s strongly supported privatizing city government services in Chicago.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand – $4,800 – Gillibrand currently represents New York in the U.S. Senate.
  • Terry McAuliffe – $25,000 – McAuliffe is currently the Governor of Virginia. Prior to that, he was the DNC chairman the last time that the Democratic presidential nominee lost a general election for president.
  • Elliot Spitzer – $21,000 – Spitzer was Governor of New York for a little more than a year from 2007 to 2008 before resigning from office after his involvement in prostitution became public knowledge. Spitzer ran for New York City Comptroller in 2013, losing in the Democratic primary.
  • Andrew Cuomo – $84,000 – Cuomo is the current Governor of New York. Cuomo is very right-wing on economic issues, including openly railing against public employee unions and supporting tax breaks for businesses. Cuomo disbanded a special commission that he established to root out corruption in New York State politics after the commission was actually doing its job.
  • David Dinkins – $7,750 – Dinkins was Mayor of New York City, New York for four years in the early 1990’s. Dinkins lost re-election in 1993 to Republican police brutality apologist Rudy Guiliani.
  • Chuck Schumer – $7,900 – Schumer is currently the senior U.S. Senator from New York. Schumer has publicly opposed the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that is designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran.
  • New York State Democratic Committee (NYSDC) – $116,000 – The NYSDC is the official state-level Democratic Party organization for New York State. In it’s current form, the NYSDC has acted as an arm’s length organization of corrupt New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • Anthony Weiner – $4,450 – Weiner has also gone under the alias Carlos Danger. Weiner was U.S. Representative from New York City for over a decade until he was forced to resign after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself via Twitter to a female follower of Weiner’s Twitter page. Weiner ran in the 2013 New York City mayoral election, losing the Democratic primary after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to a different woman.
  • John Kerry – $5,500 – Kerry is the current U.S. Secretary of State. Prior to being appointed by President Obama to the Secretary of State’s post, Kerry served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for nearly three decades, and, before that, Kerry was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts for nearly two years. Kerry also ran for President in 2004, losing to Republican incumbent George W. Bush. To this day, Kerry is the last Democratic presidential nominee to lose a general election for president.
  • Joe Lieberman – $4,000 – Lieberman is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Lieberman was a Democrat until 2006, when he ran under Connecticut for Lieberman political party banner after losing the Democratic primary in his re-election bid, and Lieberman went on to win the general election that year. Lieberman also was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee on the unsuccessful Al Gore/Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, and Lieberman himself ran for president in 2004, losing the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has publicly supported Republicans, including speaking at the 2008 Republican National Convention that nominated John McCain for president and Sarah Palin for vice-president, a ticket that went on to lose in a landslide to the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket.
  • Carolyn Maloney – $4,000 – Maloney has represented parts of New York City in the U.S. House since 1993.
  • Bill Nelson – $2,000 – Nelson has represented Florida in the U.S. Senate since 2001. Nelson was the only Democratic Senator to vote against defunding the torture programs that were run by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in committee in 2007.

Donald Trump has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party for decades. Now, he’s running for the Republican nomination on a platform of bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white racist, enacting Nazi Gemrany-like measures against Muslims, and giving tax breaks to rich people like himself. I encourage people to vote and caucus for Bernie Sanders, if their state has not already held a Democratic presidential nomination contest, in order to send a loud and clear message to corporate Democrats that we’re sick and tired of Donald Trump’s Democrats running the party into the ground.

ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

Early next year, there will be an election to determine who will be elected to the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was held by Justice Patrick Crooks prior to his death earlier this month. I whole-heartedly endorse JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge, for the seat.

Since this seat is vacant, but up for election early next year, Republican Governor Scott Walker will appoint someone to the seat, and that individual will serve the remainder of Crooks’s term. Next year’s election is for a full ten-year term, and I am endorsing Kloppenburg for the election to a full ten-year term. I would encourage Walker to appoint Former Wisconsin State Representative Kelda Roys to the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, but Walker isn’t going to appoint her or anyone else who is not a full-blown right-wing ideologue.

Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, Kloppenburg served as a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General under both Democratic (Peg Lautenschlager) and Republican (J.B. Van Hollen) state attorneys general, and she now serves as a state appellate court judge in Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, which covers 24 counties (map here) in the south-central, southwestern, and central parts of Wisconsin. If elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, she’ll be an impartial interpreter of Wisconsin’s constitution and laws, not a judicial activist of any kind.

Walker will most likely appoint Rebecca Bradley, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge from the Milwaukee area, to the vacant seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley was running for the seat prior to Crooks’s death and is still running for the seat. Bradley has earned a reputation as a far-right judicial activist. Bradley was once the president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of far-right judicial activists who believe in using the courts to implement a far-right political agenda that would cost America millions of jobs and undermine the civil liberties of the American people. Furthermore, Bradley is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization that, among other things, supports voter suppression schemes designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote.

The third candidate in next year’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race is Joe Donald, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, who, if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, would become the first elected black justice, and second black justice overall, on Wisconsin’s highest bench. While Donald has endorsements from some progressives, most notably Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, he’s accepted campaign cash from Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic Leader who supported Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Judges should be as independent as possible from state legislators and other elected officials, not accepting campaign cash from them.

If you’re a Wisconsinite who wants an actual justice who will interpret Wisconsin’s constitution and laws in a non-partisan manner, then vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg next spring! The non-partisan primary, provided that at least three candidates make the ballot (three candidates are currently campaigning for the seat), will be held in February of 2016, and the general election will be held in April of 2016.

Hillary Clinton took $1,000 from one or more individuals employed by Koch Industries-affiliated organization

I managed to stumble upon a Federal Election Commission (FEC) list of campaign contributions to Hillary for America, the official Hillary Clinton presidential campaign committee, sorted by employer of the individual campaign donor (individual donor names were not listed, although donations came from individuals and not the corporations themselves). Roughly halfway down the list, I found that one or more individuals employed by an entity called Koch Companies Public Sector (KCPS) donated a total of $1,000 to the Hillary campaign. The list is based on the Hillary campaign’s July 2015 quarterly report to the FEC.

KCPS is an entity affiliated with Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by Charles and David Koch, commonly referred to as the Koch Brothers and notorious for bankrolling Republican politicians and right-wing political causes. Although I’m not 100% certain of this, KCPS appears to me to be a right-wing political organization affiliated with the Koch Brothers: they have issued press releases that are clearly political in nature and attack Democrats (example here) for opposing the Koch Brothers’ political agenda in the recent past. Additionally, KCPS has spent, if my calculation of data provided in a graph here is correct, $101,192,700, on lobbying federal legislators. I’ve not been able to find any information online regarding any non-political activity by KCPS.

Given that the $1,000 comes from one or more individuals employed by KCPS, it is possible that there is one or more individuals employed by KCPS who are not strongly supportive of the Koch Brothers’ political agenda. However, since KCPS appears to be a primarily political organization affiliated with the Koch Industries, I would be shocked if there was anybody who even remotely resembled a political moderate or liberal employed by KCPS. I could see someone working in, for example, a milling job for Georgia-Pacific being a Hillary donor, but the fact that one or more KCPS employees donated to Hillary leaves me two big questions: 1) Why exactly would one or more employees of an organization like KCPS donate money to a Democratic presidential candidate? 2) Does Hillary Clinton privately support at least part of the Koch Brothers’ right-wing political agenda?

How taxpayers effectively subsidized the Charleston shooting

You might be shocked to find out about this, but taxpayers effectively subsidized the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which was perpetrated by 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof and claimed the lives of nine people, including Reverend and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney (D-Ridgeland).

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit investigative news organization, detailed how taxpayers effectively subsidized the mass murder at Mother Emanuel in their report:

Alleged Charleston gunman Dylann Roof wrote that he was never the same after discovering a website with “pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders.”

The pages that left Roof in disbelief were the product of a white-nationalist group subsidized by American taxpayers.

The Council of Conservative Citizens Inc. is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare, also known as a 501(c)(4). Such groups pay no federal taxes, a form of government subsidy.

To summarize all of that, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist organization, incorporated as a nonprofit “social welfare” organization, legally exempted itself from federal taxation, and published racist screeds on its website that prompted Roof to perpetrate a mass murder in a place of worship. In other words, the federal government effectively subsidized the Charleston shooting by exempting the CCC from federal taxes.

The CCC may legally be a “social welfare” organization, but, in reality, they are not a social welfare organization. The CCC is a white supremacist organization that, among other things, publicly supports far-right, anti-immigration politicians and political parties, glorifies black-on-white violent crimes, absurdly blames Chicago’s high murder rate on a misperceived lack of guns in the city, and has posted ads from at least one company selling Confederate flags online to its website. Furthermore, the CCC’s president, Earl P. Holt, has donated to many Republican politicians, including, among many others, Joni Ernst, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Jim Oberweis, Louie Gohmert, Todd Akin, Tom Emmer, Allen West, and Steve King; in fact, in some campaign finance reports, Holt listed himself as a “slumlord”. For the federal government to effectively subsidize such a hateful organization is, in my opinion, absolutely disgusting.

New Hampshire GOP Congressman Frank Guinta should resign immediately

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has ruled that U.S. Representative Frank Guinta of New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District violated federal campaign finance laws by accepting $355,000 in illegal campaign donations from his parents.

It’s 100% clear to me that Guinta should resign before you finish reading this blog post.

I have zero tolerance for those in positions of power who abuse the trust of the people they represent, and Guinta has abused the trust of the people of the 1st District of New Hampshire. That’s because he violated federal campaign finance laws by accepting $355,000 in campaign cash from his parents and claiming that the money came from his own pocket in the form of a loan to his own campaign, when, in reality, it came from a bank account in his parents’ name. What Guinta did is a form of money laundering.

It’s not just Democrats who are sick and tired of Guinta’s Chicago-style corruption. Kelly Ayotte, the far-right Republican U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, is also calling for Guinta’s resignation, likely because she knows that she already has little chance of winning re-election next year without the Guinta scandal dragging down the GOP in her home state, but would have nearly zero chance of winning re-election if Guinta were on the same ballot as her in half of New Hampshire.

If Guinta resigns from office, that would result in a special election for Guinta’s House seat, which includes much of eastern and southeastern portions of New Hampshire, including places like Manchester, Portsmouth, and Laconia. I would love to see Carol Shea-Porter run for her old seat in Congress again, as she’s a wonderful, progressive-minded person who has staunchly opposed the culture of big-money politics that Guinta has long been a part of.

A vote for Rahm Emanuel is a vote for Bruce Rauner and his destructive agenda

To be honest with you, I’m really disappointed that progressive Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia isn’t trying to tie incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner at every opportunity.

The “Rahm-Rauner” narrative continues to build. It’s the worst-kept secret in Illinois politics that Rahm and Rauner are vacation buddies. Even worse, Rahm and Rauner support the same right-wing corporate agenda to gut and privatize public education, destroy public employee pension systems, and put government functions in the hands of corporate interests.

One person who is doing a lot to build up the Rahm-Rauner narrative is billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin, who has donated a whopping $750,000 to support Rahm’s re-election efforts, including $250,000 directly to the Rahm campaign, since Rahm won only a plurality of the vote in the first round of the Chicago mayoral race and was forced into a runoff against Chuy. Griffin donated millions of dollars to Rauner’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, including a single $2.5 million donation that stands as one of the biggest monetary donations to a political campaign in American history. Not only do Rahm and Rauner support the same right-wing corporate agenda, they have the same billionaire hedge fund manager donating ridiculously large amounts of money to their campaigns.

Chuy really needs to start tying Rahm to Rauner to every opportunity, as the narrative is just waiting there for him to use against Rahm.

Conflict of interest: Bruce Rauner appointee to Illinois Department of Natural Resources took campaign cash from coal companies

Republican Illinois State Representative Wayne Rosenthal of Morrisonville has been appointed by fellow Republican and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which, in addition to maintaining state parks and recreation areas and regulating hunting and fishing, is responsible for regulating coal mining and other forms of mining in Illinois.

This is a major conflict of interest in the Rauner Administration, since, as a candidate for state representative, Rosenthal has taken $13,000 in campaign donations from Foresight Energy and Hillsboro Energy, two coal mining companies owned by billionaire mining magnate Chris Cline:

Nearly two years ago, the Wisconsin newspaper Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that one of Cline’s coal mining companies here in Illinois, Macoupin Energy, was violating state environmental regulations designed to prevent groundwater from becoming contaminated by refusing to adequately clean up groundwater contamination at the Shay 1 mine, which is located in Macoupin County either in or near Carlinville:

An Illinois coal mine owned by the same investor who is trying to develop an iron ore mine in Wisconsin has come under fire by Illinois’ pollution control agency for failing to adequately address long-standing groundwater problems.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency formally notified Macoupin Energy in December that it believes the company is dragging its feet with the cleanup at the Shay 1 mine in Carlinville, Ill., according to government documents.

The agency said it plans to refer the case to the Illinois attorney general.

Macoupin is one of four mines owned in Illinois by billionaire Christopher Cline, who is proposing to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties if the Wisconsin Legislature rewrites mining laws to the company’s satisfaction.

To use a Sesame Street analogy, putting Wayne Rosenthal, who is a shill for coal barons, in charge of regulating the mining industry here in Illinois is like putting Cookie Monster in charge of protecting cookies. For Governor Rauner to appoint someone like Rosenthal to IDNR is a flagrant conflict of interest, and, while I’m not completely opposed to mining for coal and other minerals by any stretch of the imagination, I’m very afraid that Rosenthal’s IDNR will allow mining companies to get away with polluting Illinois groundwater and waterways.

U.S. Senate votes 79-18 for proposed constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics

The U.S. Senate has voted to advance a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would effectively repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and explicitly allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit corporations, labor unions, and other types of organizations from spending money to directly or indirectly influence the outcome of elections, allows Congress and state legislatures to legally distinguish between corporations and actual people, and enact “reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections”.

The vote was 79 for the amendment and 18 against the amendment. The 18 Senators, all of which are Republicans, who voted against the amendment are, in alphabetical order by last name, John Barasso of Wyoming, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Roberts of Kansas, James Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The 3 Senators who did not vote on the amendment are Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. At least 67 total votes were required to advance the proposed amendment, due to the U.S. Constitution requiring any constitutional amendment proposed by Congress to be approved by 2/3 majorities of both houses of Congress in order for it to be referred to either state legislatures or state ratifying conventions.

Here’s the text of the proposed amendment:

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

While the Republican-controlled U.S. House, more than likely, won’t even bring this proposed amendment to a vote there, this is a big victory for people who, like me, would love nothing more than to see the corrupting influence of big money in our country’s political system gone.