Eric Frazier

Feel the pain of the Super PAC donor elite

By Eric Frazier

Current laws allow political mega-donors such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson to donate anonymously in support of political causes and candidates.
Current laws allow political mega-donors such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson to donate anonymously in support of political causes and candidates. AP

Memo: 2/08/16

From: Chester V. Bigbucks, captain of industry, political donor, proud North Carolina Tarheel.

To: The Conservative Action Project and State Policy Network

Re: Conference last fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Just thought I’d drop you all a note to say how much I enjoyed meeting all of my conservative brethren from around the country. I never knew so many other well-heeled Republican donors felt as I do – that we are indeed a “persecuted class,” as the CAP so correctly put it in its Jan. 15 follow-up memo.

Amidst all the noise of the presidential race, many states are considering legislation that would force us to disclose our political contributions. The lovely blend of influence and anonymity we enjoy through our Super PACs and nonprofit groups – our so-called “dark money” network – stands at risk.

It was unfortunate that that investigative news website, ProPublica.org, got hold of our internal conference documents and exposed our playbook. But that’s OK. Our cause is just. We’re re-branding rich political donors. No more put-downs about corrupt fat-cat insiders. We’re going to be recognized for the freedom fighters we are.

You were right in suggesting that “dark money” must go. “Private giving” is indeed much more accurate. Downplaying wealthy “activists” in favor of small-donor “Average Joes”? Correct again. Referring to “anti-corruption” bills as assaults on “individual privacy” and “free speech”? I’m getting goosebumps over here.

My grandpappy said money talks and a certain bovine byproduct walks. Lord knows it’s true in politics. When I give a donation, my money’s talking. How can it have candid conversation with a congressional candidate when Joe Public’s taking note of the meeting?

I’d like to contribute to the re-branding effort, or at least help us settle on some 1 percent-centric definitions of key political terms. Try a few of these on for size:

▪ Quid pro quo. Latin incantation that makes politicians clear out of your living room.

▪ Incumbent. He who gets it done. Or else.

▪ Tax relief. See Incumbent.

▪ Income inequality. Why my brother still can’t afford a boat as big as mine.

▪ Boondoggle. Jeb’s campaign.

▪ Going negative. What happens to your fundraising totals when you don’t return the donor’s call.

▪ Political mandate. When I insist that me and my elected official buddies go golfing.

▪ Fourth Estate. Those nosy scalawags in the press. Also, my place at Figure Eight Island.

▪ Super PACs. Handsome bands of red-blooded American patriots.

OK, OK, I’ll admit that these are submitted tongue-in-caviar-filled cheek. But you get my point.

Anyway, I am glad the documents you all passed around in Grand Rapids showed that North Carolina hadn’t joined states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and Pennsylvania in considering new ethics bills or disclosure rules on political contributions.

Who needs more freedom-crushing regulations, right? I know it won’t be easy convincing the general public. After all, what’s the one thing egomaniac Donald Trump and that cranky old socialist Bernie Sanders have going for them right now? The public’s belief that they haven’t been “bought” by us, whatever that means.

This, too, shall pass, gentlemen. One Orwellian step at a time, we will re-frame this debate. Political trends come and go, after all, but money in politics? That’s forever.

Eric: 704-358-5145; efrazier@charlotteobserver.com.

  Comments