Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Connecticut’s Political Millionaires

The Hill, a much respected Washington D.C. publication, reports that Senator Dick Blumenthal, “not a businessman by trade,” has never-the-less acquired a fortune by “his marriage to the daughter of a New York real estate magnate.” His marriage has given Mr. Blumenthal “an impressive investment portfolio.”

Mr. Blumenthal is not alone among Connecticut’s Democratic politicians in having acquired fortunes through family members. U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, married to pollster and consultant to Democratic political stars Stan Greenberg, also falls within the bounds of Connecticut’s millionaire one-percenter politicians.

Mr. and Mrs. Greenberg are good friends with President Barack Obama confederate Rham Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago.  Mr. Emanuel, then down and out in Washington D.C., lived for a time in the basement of the Greenbergs’ plush Beltway digs. Mr. Greenberg was Mr. Emanuel’s pollster before the “godfather” of the Obama political campaign became mayor of one of the worst gang infested and violent cities in the United States.  Mr. Greenberg’s well-heeled, prosperous, politically connected polling and research firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, has conducted polls and run political interference for such Democratic notables as former President Bill Clinton, inventor of the internet and global warming guru former Vice President Al Gore and anti-Vietnam war protestor, former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and present Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr. Greenberg’s firm also dabbles in international affairs’ a partial listing of Mr. Greenberg’s international clients may be found here.   

The conspicuously rich former Connecticut Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker, heir to the Squib fortune, was born with a 24k spoon in his mouth. Relatively poor while in office, former U.S. Senator Chis Dodd fell into a vat of money only after he had left Congress. Mr. Dodd, having said multiple times in office that he would not descend to lobbying, is now the chief lobbyist for The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), pulling in more than $2 million a year. Recently, Mr. Dodd’s days have been taken up with a controversy concerning the title of “The Butler,” a new film that explores racism, or the lack of it, within the White House during the Civil Rights period.

Mr. Dodd’s MPAA recently averted a head on collision between Warner Brothers, the makers of a 1916 film titled “The Butler” and The Weinstein Company, owned by Westport Connecticut film mogul Harvey Weinstein, a promoter of a recently released film “The Butler.” Connecticut readers of this column may recall Mr. Weinstein as the millionaire Democratic Party campaign contributor who has entertained Mr. Obama and his retinue at both his Connecticut mansion and his Manhattan log cabin. Mr. Dodd is the author, along with former Senator Barney Frank, of the inscrutable Dodd-Frank bill. As in some post World War II movies, everything worked out for the best when Mr. Weinstein agreed on a compromise title for his film, now called “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”. Such is life in the fast lanes of Tinseltown and D.C., centers of power and status full of lawyers, acrimony and money, always a volatile and combustible combination.

Put beside this overload of Democratic Party status and power and money, Republican politicians who hope this political season to break into the governor’s mansion and possibly the veto proof Democratic controlled General Assembly, taken all together, amount to a very small sack of potatoes.

The once Republican Mr. Weicker is but a distant memory who now and then pops up at some political gathering to compliment Governor Dannel Malloy for having instituted the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, outpacing even the 1991 budget that featured the Weicker income tax. Linda McMahon has been drummed off the political stage, leaving in her wake three Republican gubernatorial aspirants, only one of whom can claim to be rich.  Former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley doesn’t want for much; but, on the other hand, his family, unlike Mr. Blumenthal's, does not own the Empire State building and other money soddened Big Apple properties, and Mr. Foley did not acquire his millions by marrying Stan Greenberg, a political strategist for left of center Democratic politicians, deep-pocket politically active companies such as Monsanto, General Motors, Gulf polluter British Petroleum and, not least among his political associates, Mr. Greenberg’s progressive, faux-proletarian wife, Rosa DeLauro.

This campaign season, the entirely predictable Democratic attack on Republican one-percenters began when Democratic Party chairman Nancy DiNardo unleashed a thunderbolt against Mr. Foley last December. “Tom Foley just doesn’t get it,” Ms. DiNardo wrote in a media release. “Like Mitt Romney, he doesn’t understand the challenges that average hardworking people face. He is just another out-of-touch vulture capitalist who sees the average resident as something less. It’s a toxic world view that the voters of this country rejected just a few weeks ago. And if ambassador Foley runs again, he’ll find out exactly what the voters of Connecticut think of his economic philosophy.”

Venture capitalists are the folk who invest in broken companies in an effort to make them whole, so that the re-capitalized and reorganized companies might be in a position to hire blue collar proletarians just like millionaires Blumenthal and DeLauro. When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mark Boughton, a teacher before he ran successfully as Mayor of Danbury, self-identified as a “blue collar” Republican, state Democratic leaders quickly and reflexively demurred. The very notion of a blue collar Republican puts a crimp in in Connecticut’s Democratic Party campaign playbook, a made-in-Washington-D.C. script according to which all venture capitalists are vulture capitalists. U.S. Representative Jim Himes, who arrived in Washington D.C. via the toxic world of Goldman Sachs, was warmly received by most Democrats, some of whom know even less about venture capitalists and hedge fund managers than does Ms. DiNardo. Perhaps Mr. Himes will take on the thankless task of explaining the ways of Wall Street to Connecticut Democrats sometime before the next election.

In the meantime, blue collar taxpayers might want to reflect on the following datum: None of the Republicans replaced by Democrats within Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional delegation were as wealthy as Mrs. DeLauro, Mr. Blumenthal or Mr. Himes. And if one measures candidates by the amount of other people’s money they spend, Republicans turn out to be far more parsimonious than Democrats.
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