Friday, June 08, 2018

Murphy’s Money

It was a trifle embarrassing, but U.S. Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy was able adroitly to dodge the bullet.

“This week,” the  Journal Inquirer reported “Murphy dodged questions about [receiving campaign] tainted money from Spitzer, and instead focused on contributions from average people.”

Elliot Spitzer, a former New York Attorney General and Governor, resigned blushingly in 2008 to dodge impeachment following reports in the New York Times, the JI reported, “that he had patronized prostitutes, highlighting a meeting for two hours with a $1,000-per-hour prostitute…

“He is said to have spent as much as $80,000 on prostitutes over several years while working as New York’s attorney general and later as governor, according to various credible news sources. Following his resignation from office, Spitzer became a political pundit, writing opinion pieces for The Washington Post and making numerous television appearances on CNN and MSNBC.”

Last October, the JI pointed out, “Murphy said politicians should not accept contributions from former Hollywood producer and accused rapist Harvey Weinstein, who has since been arrested and charged with sex assault.

“He said, ‘it probably makes sense’ for candidates to either return or donate to charity their contributions because Weinstein is ‘a pretty bad guy.’”

Murphy deflected the point of the parry: If Weinstein’s political contributions should be returned, why not Spitzer’s?

And then he told what Mark Twain might have called “a stretcher.”

The JI reported, “’I’m really proud of the way that we’ve raised money,’ Murphy said. Most of his contributions, he said, have come from tens of thousands of people with ‘very, very small’ average contributions.

“’We’ll continue to focus on these small-dollar contributions as the means of powering our campaign,’ Murphy said, declining to comment specifically on Spitzer’s contributions.”

Open Secrets provides the backdrop for Murphy’s campaign contributions from 2013 – 2018. Murphy serves on three important congressional committees: Appropriations, Foreign Relations, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Top contributors to his campaigns include lawyers and law firms, deep pocket millionaires, Yale University, J Street, Sullivan & Cromwell, JPMorgan Chase & Co, the education lobby, and Paul Weiss, who heads a muscular law firm of 900 lawyers. Weiss has contributed $59,155 to Murphy’s campaigns. 

In 2005, Weiss’ attorneys filed an emergency application on behalf of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba after some went on a hunger strike to protest alleged “inhumane conditions" and prison employees responded by force feeding the prisoners. In a subsequent ruling,  the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the government to provide the detainees' lawyers with 24 hours' notice before initiating a force-feeding, and to provide lawyers with the detainees’ medical records a week before force-feeding.

Open Secrets breaks down Murphy’s contributions as follows: 27.07% comes from small individual contributors; 61.20% comes from large individual contributors; 11.65% comes from PAC contributions, which includes contributions from the political PACs of other politicians.

Much had been made lately of the personal wealth of Connecticut politicians following a remark made by Joe Ganim, the ex-felon and Mayor of Bridgeport now running for governor as a Democrat, concerning the number of bathrooms in the residence of Democrat Party nominee for governor Ned Lamont, who is a millionaire, as are U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, the eighth wealthiest member in Congress, and Representative For Life in Connecticut’s 3rd District Rosa DeLauro.

But the campaign riches of incumbent politicians – wealth considerably more politically decisive than personal wealth – is rarely mentioned by wealth averse progressive politicians and some commentators – who should know better -- anxious to transport rich Republicans in tumbrils to rhetorical guillotines.

It is by no means certain that Connecticut’s Potemkin Village campaign reform laws prevent deep pocket state contributors from greasing the palms of state politicians who are in a position to do them favors. Such contributions may be routed to national party committees, laundered, and then returned to the state politician who, to all appearances, will remain untainted by filthy lucre.
By their campaign kitties shall ye know them. By this measure, all  the members of Connecticut’s all Democrat U.S. Congressional Delegation are far wealthier than their Republican challengers. There is no need to count the number of toilets in Murphy’s house. Murphy’s campaign kitty of nearly $8 million is massive enough to intimidate both primary challengers and political opponents. And the vast store of campaign wealth heaped up by incumbents seriously undermines the spirit of Connecticut’s fair campaign regulations – sold to the general public as a means of leveling the playing field of campaign rich incumbents and their competitors.

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