Chris VanDeHoef has crossed the i’s and dots the t’s of newspaper consumers in Connecticut who suspect that the press showers favors on left of center Democrats.
According to a piece in CTMirror, founders of a new SuperPAC committee that will be showering favors upon Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Senate Chris Murphy “include Chris VanDeHoef, a lobbyist who is executive director of a media trade group, the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, and Kevin Graff, who became a Hartford lobbyist after stepping down last year as chief of staff of the state Senate Democratic majority.”
Joining the Murphy mutual admiration society is Jeffrey Garfield, who retired in 2009 after more than 30 years as top dog at Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission.
Reporter Greg Hladky in CT.com, a site affiliated with the Advocate chain of newspapers, took Mr. Garfield to task for embracing a disease formerly scorned by both Mr. Garfield and Mr. Murphy. It may be important to mention that the Advocate chain is not in any way associated with the Koch brothers, who are to conservative politics what George Soros is to left wing politics.
Mr. Hladky is not surprised that Mr. Garfield had accepted “this somewhat peculiar assignment.” During his long run as the state’s election law “watchdog,” Mr. Garfield had demonstrated a fondness, Mr. Hladky writes, “for treating top state Democratic and Republican leaders gently and with great consideration for their lofty status. Thousands of dollars in apparently illegal lobbying contributions to political action committees run by high-ranking legislative leaders were often dismissed by Garfield as ‘clerical errors.’”
The object of the affections of Mr. Garfield’s new SuperPAC to help re-elect Mr. Murphy, is not handled gingerly in Mr. Hladky’s piece.
Mr. Hladky notes that Mr. Murphy has made a career of denouncing the Supreme Court “Citizen’s United” decision that opened the door to SuperPACs, a ruling “that unleashed these free-wheeling, non-candidate political action committees, allowing them to be massively financed by corporations, billionaires, unions and any other well-heeled entity this side of the Gamma 5 quadrant. These PAC-monsters can then spend unlimited amounts to influence the election process, all the while effectively keeping the identities of their financial sugar daddies secret.”
Actually, the efficient cause of the SuperPACs was not the Supreme Court decision but the McCain-Feingold-Shay's-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform Law that restricted donations to political parties and occasioned thehigh court’s ruling on a constitutional question. Mr. Murphy has said, “I’m a believer in ultimately overturning Citizens United and publicly financing campaigns so that people ultimately decide elections, rather than a handful of donors or billionaires.”
The notion that Citizens United will be overturned is little more than a campaign fantasy because the High court’s judgment is grounded in sound constitutional principle from which the court cannot retreat. A reform of campaign finance regulations that once again would allow money to flow, perhaps anonymously, into cash starved political parties rather than to incumbent politicians who have become their own undefeatable political parties would at least be possible. But since finance regulations and public financing of campaigns tend to benefit incumbents such as Mr. Murphy, the congressman is not likely to support practical measures to redirect the flow of campaign money from SuperPAC outliers to political parties.
Mr. Hladky notes that Mr. Murphy was technically correct when he said that the beneficiary of the new SuperPAC – Mr. Murphy himself – cannot control the content of the product. Were this the case, the pretense that the SuperPAC was not connected with the Murphy campaign would be exposed as a transparent fraud. Mr. Murphy’s artful disinterest reinforces instead an opaque fraud. Mr. Murphy, rather than his likely post-primary opponent, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate Linda McMahon, will benefit greatly from the exertions of executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association Chris VanDeHoef, and former chief of staff of the state Senate Democratic Majority Kevin Graff and Jeffrey Garfield, for more than thirty years the head of Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission.
Mr. Murphy, who is not a bad softball player, here has tagged three important bases – media, state Democratic Party legislative honchos and an important election enforcement group – on his way to a home run.
This new old boy’s network is enough to make a cynic of the most cheerfully complaisant party functionary in what is fast becoming a one party state. Even Mrs. McMahon’s most persistent critics appear to be alarmed.
“If nothing else,” Mr. Hladky remarked, “his whole weird deal may be worth it just to hear McMahon’s flacks trashing Murphy for taking advantage of SuperPAC money ‘from special interests and fat cat lobbyists.’”