Campaign Cash


Two Tea Party leaders, Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, have been jet-setting all over the country ginning up support for conservative politicians. Literally.

They’ve been flying around in a private jet like Wall Street CEOs, except they’re heading to “grassroots” rallies instead of merger talks. Meckler and Martin don’t say how outraged, ordinary citizens can find the money to support such extravagance, and they don’t have to. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in this year's Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, they can now accept unlimited funding without disclosing the identities of their donors.

No one would even know about the jets themselves, but Meckler and Martin never counted on Mother Jones, or a reporter named Stephanie Mencimer. Using public flight-tracking information, the Tea Party Patriots’ flight schedule, and some serious attention to details in the group’s own videos, Mencimer was able to figure out which jet the not-so-populist duo were using. She then traced the plane to Raymond F. Thomson, founder and CEO of a semiconductor company called Semitool, which he sold last year for a cool $364 million.

It’s both sad and hilarious to see the secret financial arrangements of the super-rich masquerading as grassroots activism. But it also shows the lengths to which reporters must go to actually report on political spending in the wake of Citizens United. There is no documentation to follow, just the contrails of private jets.

Social groups target state races  

And while secret political spending has been dominated by big corporations this cycle, the legal maneuvering that liberated corporate coffers was actually performed by fringe right-wing groups targeting social issues. As Jesse Zwick emphasizes for The Washington Independent:

laura Nowicki
11/1/2010 8:05:39 PM

VOTE SANITY Facebook Profile Pic + Local Progressive Voter Guides --Election is TUESDAY!! Voter Guides >> I like this Local Voter Guide --everyone and their mom should use it to vote!!

11/1/2010 10:21:54 AM

I like that "sewer" and Jim De Mint's name are next to each other. Really like that. It could have been "sewer" and Tea Party but this is just fine too. I'm still in a quandary as to whether or not we should do some "branding" of our Democratic Republic itself. The United States of (name of your favorite sports drink) a la the dominant theme in the movie "Idiocracy." The United States! It's got electrolytes! And, yes, "It" gets to vote for itself, because it's "an entity" and because "it's got electrolytes!" Keep up the good fight/work! -Doc

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