Monday, November 13, 2006

Dodd Takes The Road More Traveled

US Sen. Chris Dodd is taking the road trodden earlier by Joe Lieberman, the junior Democrat senator from Connecticut, now an Independent Democrat. After almost making it to the White House on a ticket headed by Al Gore, then running as president, Lieberman, a few months ago, was turned aside by his party in a bitterly fought primary won by Ned Lamont. One of the charges raised by Lamont and his supporters that decoupled Lieberman from his party was that the senator’s ambitions for high office had put him out of touch with the little people back home. Lieberman, it was said, had become arrogant and overly ambitious.

Dodd now puts his foot in the same snare, but he has found a way to purchase party loyalty in states he must win to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. With some help from interest groups that may benefit from the soon to be chairman of a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that has jurisdiction over financial institutions, defense production, port security, export licensing, urban transit and housing issues, Dodd just buys the support.

“Citizens for Hope Responsibility Independence and Service PAC,” ChrisPAC, according to a story in the Journal Inquirer , “a leadership PAC separate from the Connecticut senator's re-election campaign committee, has spent $100,000 since August to purchase ‘voter files’ in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

And not just voter files. “ChrisPAC, as the panel is known, also contributed a total of $65,000 to seven Democratic Party committees and six Democratic congressional candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, states slated to lead off the Democrats' 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses.

“Dodd's committee invested the most money in New Hampshire, where it not only paid the state party $50,000 for its voter file, but also made $10,000 in contributions to the state party.

“Similarly, it contributed $12,500 to the Democratic caucuses of the New Hampshire state Senate and House, and it dispatched $5,000 each to congressional candidates Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter, both of whom were elected Nov. 7.

“ChrisPAC also paid $50,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party for its voter file, along with a $1,500 donation to the state party and a total of $10,000 in contributions to the two Democratic state legislative committees, the Iowa Senate Majority Fund, and the Iowa House Truman Fund.

“Four Democratic congressional candidates in Iowa - Bruce Baley, Leonard Boswell, David Loebsack, and Selden Spencer - also received $5,000, $3,600, $2,500, and $2,500, respectively. Boswell and Loebsack were elected.”


And who is financing ChrisPAC? The usual culprits: “Contributors to ChrisPAC include other PACs organized by corporations and business groups such as Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. PAC, Morgan Stanley PAC, the American Insurance Association PAC, and the Bond Market Association PAC, which each had contributed a total of $5,000 by mid-October.

“They also include individuals who are executives at companies such as the Stamford-based drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, including Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, the company's president, and Mortimer D. Sackler, its vice president, who each also had contributed $5,000.”


Not a bad deal. Some political parties would be happy to be able to dispense such largess, but they can’t because they -- unlike Dodd and other goodie dispensers who for all practical purposes have become petite political parties – have been reformed by powerful incumbent politicians who know how to hang on to their perks.
Not a bad deal. Some political parties would be happy to be able to dispense such largess, but they can’t because they -- unlike Dodd and other goodie dispensers who for all practical purposes have become petite political parties – have been reformed by powerful incumbent politicians who know how to hang on to their perks.

Let no one say that this shuttling of money to powerful politicians who control important committees from interest groups and corporations that may benefit from the largess is illegal or unethical. It’s all on the up and up, all in conformity with campaign finance reform measures that were supposed to erect a Berlin Wall between politicians and special interests groups seeking to affect legislation. If you launder the money by pushing it through ChrisPAC, you too can become an unregulated political party -- like Chris Dodd.
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