Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, emulating the Koch brothers, is creating another right-wing fundraising outlet to back Republican politicians. Politico reports today that Singer’s fundraising network, the American Opportunity Alliance, will “bring together some of the richest pro-business GOP donors in the country, several of whom share Singer’s support for gay rights, immigration reform and the state of Israel.”
While noting that Singer, whose son is gay, is trying to aid Republican politicians who support immigration reform and LGBT equality, Politico points out that many of the candidates he supports “have not necessarily signed on to Singer’s broad agenda,” and that Singer “has been supportive of the Club for Growth, the hard-right organization of economic conservatives, giving the group more than $850,000 over the years, including a $100,000 check last cycle.”
In the 2012 election, many of Club for Growth’s top recipients were among the GOP’s most vocal opponents of gay rights and immigration legislation.
Club for Growth spent over $5.5 million on behalf of Ted Cruz in his upset victory in the Texas GOP primary, catapulting the nihilistic, Tea Party crusader into the U.S. Senate. Several House Republicans blamed Cruz for sinking immigration reform legislation, and he is now championing anti-gay legislation and spouting off harsh denunciations of gay rights.
The group is also a major supporter of Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the point man for the anti-immigrant movement, best known for his comments about how undocumented young people are drug traffickers with “calves the size of cantaloupes” and his comparison of immigration to terrorism and the Holocaust.
King also has a horrendous record on gay rights: He claimed same-sex marriage would take children away from their parents and force them to be “raised in warehouses”; likened gay people to unicorns and leprechauns; warned gay marriage would lead to socialism and called on gay people to stay in the closet.
The Club for Growth also is also a major cheerleader for Georgia congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun, who believes that immigration reform is part of a ploy to doom America and “destroy our Constitution.” Broun also introduced a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and said “he opposes health insurance covering sex-change or hair-transplant procedures because he personally likes ‘being a boy.’”
One former Republican congressman told the conservative Washington Times that the Club’s “priority is to invariably go with any conservative, anti-gay, pro-life Republican they can find” and “endorse how the Christian coalition groups do.” The group also steered money to a leading anti-gay group.
Singer is also tied to the Koch brothers’ fundraising network, which has donated handsomely to anti-gay candidates and groups such as Concerned Women for America, which even defends the Ugandan anti-gay law.
It is hard to reconcile Singer’s personal support for gay rights and immigration reform with his sizeable financial support for candidates who oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians and reform efforts.
Singer’s strong backing of not only organizations like the Club for Growth but also the House GOP leadership — which refuses to even allow House members to vote on immigration reform measures or gay rights bills such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — shows that Singer seems perfectly comfortable with propping up politicians who are working against the causes of LGBT equality and immigrant rights as long as they advance his “hardcore conservative” economic agenda.
If you’re curious why many House Republicans are on board with an unhinged plan to threaten a government shutdown or default over demands to “defund” Obamacare, you should follow the money. That’s what the New York Times editorial board argued in a compelling op-ed Tuesday.
Far-right groups such as the Club for Growth are striking out at Republicans who refuse to take this reckless stance, wielding their considerable funds to “inflict political pain” on those who do not share their extremist position. And they are titillating their Tea Party supporters with political fantasies in order to get them to send in even more money, so they can ramp up their attack on Republicans who don’t toe the line. In “The Money Behind the Shutdown Crisis,” the editorial board wrote:
These groups, all financed with secret and unlimited money, feed on chaos and would like nothing better than to claim credit for pushing Washington into another crisis. Winning an ideological victory is far more important to them than the severe economic effects of a shutdown or, worse, a default, which could shatter the credit markets.
[…] Brian Walsh, a longtime Republican operative, recently noted in U.S. News and World Report that the right is now spending more money attacking Republicans than the Democrats are. “Money begets TV ads, which begets even more money for these groups’ personal coffers,” he wrote. “Pointing fingers and attacking Republicans is apparently a very profitable fund-raising business.”
And as more money pours into these shadowy groups, their influence – and thus their potential for inflicting further damage on our democracy – grows. With fewer effective campaign finance regulations left standing in the post-Citizens United landscape, there is little that can stop these groups from using their money to bully elected officials.
But the functioning of our government is not a game. And though for these fringe groups making an ideological point may seem more important than keeping our government from shutting down or defaulting, Americans are tired of having our basic economic security called into question over political posturing.
As the Times editorial board put it:
It may be good for their bank accounts, but the combination of unlimited money and rigid ideology is proving toxic for the most basic functioning of government.
The power center that Dick Armey and FreedomWorks have been aggressively building in the U.S. Senate around reigning extremist Jim DeMint will almost certainly welcome Ted Cruz in January. The Republican convention gave most Americans their first look at Cruz, who has become a Tea Party folk hero after crushing the establishment candidate, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in a bitterly contested primary.
Ted Cruz loves to portray his victory as an upwelling from the grassroots, as he did during his Tuesday night speech from the platform. “I have the honor of standing before you this evening for one reason, because thousands upon thousands of grassroots activists stood united, not for a candidate, but for the sake of restoring liberty.”
It is certainly true that his impressive come-from-behind primary victory captured the fervor of anti-government Tea Party activists as well as conservative evangelicals that Cruz has been courting for years at religious right gatherings. But it wasn’t an act of spontaneous combustion. Pouring gasoline on the prairie fire were national right-wing super PACs and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. Club for Growth Action dropped millions into the race on Cruz’s behalf; Jim DeMint’s Tea Party-backing Senate Conservatives Fund also kicked in with seven-figure spending. (DeMint has since cut his formal ties to the group so that it could create a super PAC.) A FreedomWorks spokesperson said after Cruz’s primary that wins by candidates like Cruz would “force Romney to the right.”
Cruz also benefitted from endorsements by an impressive roster of right-wing figures. During the primary he bragged that he was the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. he Cruz campaign used video of a Palin campaign visit for its GOTV efforts. After his primary win an excited Breitbart blogger quoted Sarah Palin’s celebration on Facebook. She wrote that Cruz's victory was a win "both for Ted and for the grassroots Tea Party movement," and that the “message of this race couldn't be clearer for the political establishment: the Tea Party is alive and well and we will not settle for business as usual. Now, it's on to November!”
While the media accurately describes Cruz as a darling of the Tea Party and its corporate backers, he also had strong backing from religious-right figures. Cruz has campaigned for support at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit and the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, where he said “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” James Dobson and David Barton are among the religious-right leaders who backed Cruz; Rick Santorum endorsed Cruz on Glenn Beck’s television show.
Cruz embodies Ralph Reed’s desire to merge the Tea Party and religious right. In his convention speech, Cruz talked about the Tea Party movement as a “Great Awakening” – a not-so-subtle shout-out to religious-right leaders who are calling for a spiritual great awakening that they believe will turn the nation back to God and its Christian roots. At Rick Santorum’s event on Wednesday afternoon, Cruz mocked media conversations about divisions between different “chunks” of Republicans, declaring the party united. “We’re all here because we believe in values and principles bigger than ourselves,” he said.