Homosexual Justice League Redefines Liberal Politics

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Principessa, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Liberal Politics

    By John Cloud / Beverly Hills


    A few weeks before Virginia's legislative elections in 2005, a researcher working on behalf of a clandestine group of wealthy, gay political donors telephoned a Virginia legislator named Adam Ebbin. Then, as now, Ebbin was the only openly gay member of the state's general assembly. The researcher wanted Ebbin's advice on how the men he represented could spend their considerable funds to help defeat anti-gay Virginia politicians.

    Ebbin, a Democrat who is now 44, was happy to oblige. (Full disclosure: in the mid-'90s, Ebbin and I knew each other briefly as colleagues; he sold ads for Washington City Paper, a weekly where I was a reporter.) Using Ebbin's expertise, the gay donors — none of whom live in Virginia — began contributing to certain candidates in the state. There were five benefactors: David Bohnett of Beverly Hills, Calif., who in 1999 sold the company he had co-founded, Geo-Cities, to Yahoo! in a deal worth $5 billion on the day it was announced; Timothy Gill of Denver, another tech multimillionaire; James Hormel of San Francisco, grandson of George, who founded the famous meat company; Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo, Mich., the billionaire grandson of the founder of medical-technology giant Stryker Corp.; and Henry van Ameringen, whose father Arnold Louis van Ameringen started a Manhattan-based import company that later became the mammoth International Flavors & Fragrances.

    The five men spent $138,000 in Virginia that autumn, according to state records compiled by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project. Of that, $48,000 went directly to the candidates Ebbin recommended. Ebbin got $45,000 for his PAC, the Virginia Progress Fund, so he could give to the candidates himself. Another $45,000 went to Equality Virginia, a gay-rights group that was putting money into many of the same races.

    On Election Day that year, the Virginia legislature stayed solidly in Republican hands; the Democratic Party netted just one seat. But that larger outcome masked an intriguing development: anti-gay conservatives had suffered considerably. For instance, in northern Virginia, a Democrat named Charles Caputo (who received $6,500 from Ebbin's PAC) had beaten a Christian youth minister, Chris Craddock, by an unexpectedly large margin, with a vote of 56% to 41%. Three other candidates critical of gays were also defeated, including delegate Richard Black, who had long opposed gay equality in Richmond. Black had had no single donation as large as the $20,000 that Ebbin's PAC gave his opponent. "This was my ninth election campaign, and it wasn't unusual to have homosexuals involved," says Black, who now practices law. "But it was different, certainly, in degree. There had not been a concerted influx of money from homosexuals as a group before."

    The group that donated the money to use against Black and the others is known as the Cabinet, although you won't find that name on a letterhead or even on the Internet. Aside from Bohnett, 52; Gill, 55; Hormel, 75; Stryker, 50; and Van Ameringen, 78, the other members of the Cabinet are Jonathan Lewis (49-year-old grandson of Joseph, co-founder of Progressive Insurance) and Linda Ketner, 58, heiress to the Food Lion fortune, who is running for Congress against GOP Representative Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina.

    Ketner's is something of a long-shot bid — her district has been reliably Republican for years — but recently Congressional Quarterly described her "suddenly strong run" against Brown as "the biggest surprise" in this year's House races. Ketner, who was invited to join the all-male Cabinet as a way of diversifying it, declined to discuss her role in the group.

    Among gay activists, the Cabinet is revered as a kind of secret gay Super Friends, a homosexual justice league that can quietly swoop in wherever anti-gay candidates are threatening and finance victories for the good guys. Rumors abound in gay political circles about the group's recondite influence; some of the rumors are even true. For instance, the Cabinet met in California last year with two sitting governors, Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, both Democrats; political advisers who work for the Cabinet met with a third Democratic governor, Wisconsin's Jim Doyle. The Cabinet has also funded a secretive organization called the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), which a veteran lesbian activist describes as the "Gay IRS." MAP keeps tabs on the major gay organizations to make sure they are operating efficiently. The October 2008 MAP report notes, for example, that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force fails to meet Better Business Bureau standards for limiting overhead expenses.

    According to the online databases Opensecrets.org and Followthemoney.org, the seven members of the Cabinet have spent at least $7.8 million on political races since the beginning of 2004, although their true level of giving is doubtless far higher, since Followthemoney.org — which is run by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics — does not capture all contributions to PACs (for instance, the Cabinet money that went to Ebbin's PAC in 2005 doesn't show up on the website). The Cabinet spends at least as much each election cycle as does the PAC run by the Human Rights Campaign, the world's largest gay political group. And yet the Cabinet has operated in stealth, without accountability from watchdogs. (The Cabinet does not subject itself to MAP analysis.)

    Cabinet spending shows up in races all over the country where pro-gay candidates have a good shot. For instance, Bohnett, Gill and Van Ameringen have given $143,000 this year to New York Democrats, who are within two seats of controlling the state senate. A Democratic New York legislature would likely approve equal marriage rights.

    The Cabinet's Gill and Stryker have seen their money achieve remarkable results in their respective states, Colorado and Michigan. Stateline.org (a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts) reported that in 2006, Stryker gave "at least $6.4 million to candidates or political committees in at least a dozen states, including Michigan, where he can boast that Democrats gained a majority in the state house for the first time in 12 years." Some Cabinet members also donated tens of thousands of dollars in certain Iowa and New Hampshire races in 2006, when Democrats regained control of both states' legislatures. Those states' Democratic majorities now ensure that, among other things, efforts to amend the Iowa and New Hampshire constitutions to ban same-sex marriage will fail.

    And yet the Cabinet is noteworthy not only because its treasure begets political influence but also because its very existence shows how dramatically the culture wars — and liberal politics as a whole — have changed in the past decade. Next summer gays will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the 1969 Manhattan demonstrations that began when cross-dressers angry about police raids at the Stonewall bar began throwing bottles and punches. Today, though, the street movement is basically defunct. And increasingly, the center of gay power is moving out from Washington toward the interior — toward powerful foundations like those run by Stryker in Kalamazoo and Gill in Denver. Since the beginning of 2001, Stryker's foundation, which is called Arcus and has offices in both the U.S. and the U.K., has given away $67 million, about three-quarters to gays and about one-quarter to apes. (Stryker, who got a pet monkey as a gift when he was young, is a major donor to the conservation of ape habitats.)

    The Cabinet is emblematic of a larger shift on the left since 2004 in the direction of big-money politics, a shift most clearly seen in Barack Obama's refusal of public financing for his campaign. The Cabinet is only one of several flush, members-only liberal groups that have formed since 2004, the most famous (and richest) being the Democracy Alliance, whose sponsors include billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis (father of Cabinet member Jonathan) and Pat Stryker (sister of Cabinet member Jon).

    That raises questions: What does a civil rights movement look like in an era of massive wealth? Can you still inspire a grass-roots movement when all the street troops know that the billionaires can just write bigger checks? And is it possible that the left has become a movement as coldly obsessed with money as it always assumed the right was?

     
  2. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    deeply disturbing
     
  3. bobabooey69

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    Justice League? Wonder twins unite!
     
  4. Tawny Jones

    Tawny Jones New Member

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    I guess I don't understand what the problem is. Businesses are allowed to form PAC's, groups believing in causes can form PAC's, etc.... Why is this a problem if true?
    I give money to support McCain, do I have some secret agenda?
     
  5. houtx48

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    this different from rich republicans funneling money, how? what to see how something works follow the money.
     
  6. curious n str8

    curious n str8 New Member

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    And what about the Democrats, I find it suspicious that Obama got 150 million in one month. :dunno:
     
  7. QuiteOne

    QuiteOne New Member

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    Oh please people. This is just more of the same FUD. Money has ruled politics since the dawn of time... and will continue to do so. Don't fall prey to fear mongers.... it's just illustrates how gullible you are.
     
  8. Gl3nn

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    It's good they give money. And I like the secrecy aspect :p
     
  9. slurper_la

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    oh no, better get the tin foil hats out again
     
  10. Phil Ayesho

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    Well, I know that I gave him $25 bucks... along with about 10 million other people....
     
  11. Industrialsize

    Staff Member Moderator Gold Member

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    I gave 100 dollars during September
     
  12. Gl3nn

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    Industrialsize, the godfather of the gay maffia.


    Actually... It'd be cool to be the godfather of the gay maffia lol
     
  13. Principessa

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    It's not a problem, it's great. :unitedstates:

    I was with you until this last sentence. :frown1: Everyone knows that if you support Mc Cain you are a misogynist intent on sending back to the kitchen and bedoom rather than the boardroom. You also hate minorities and favor our national parks becoming oil fields and highways.:mad:
     
  14. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    The Court's Money Moment

    John Henderson, Robert A. Pastor and Jamin Raskin

    February 28, 2006

    John Henderson is a junior fellow, Robert Pastor is the director, and Jamin Raskin is a faculty member of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. Pastor is also a professor of international relations and Raskin is a professor of constitutional law at the Washington College of Law. The three just collaborated to prepare an extensive cross-national survey of campaign finance expenditures for anbrief to the Supreme Court on Randall v. Sorrell. amicus
    Is unregulated campaign spending essential to political freedom? For three decades, the Supreme Court has assumed so. Ever since a landmark decision in 1976, the Court has viewed efforts to limit campaign spending as a violation of the First Amendment by reducing electoral competitiveness and impairing political speech.
    This week the Court has an historic opportunity to revisit its decision in Buckley v. Valeo —which wrought thirty-plus years of unlimited campaign spending and contribution limits that have weakened our democracy. In the case of Randall v. Sorrell , the Court is considering spending limits adopted recently by the state of Vermont. The state and its supporters are urging the Court to uphold the spending limits on the basis that they prevent corruption, sustain confidence in government, create more equal political opportunity, and spare the time of elected officials.
    All the money circulating in American elections is buying something, to be sure, but it is definitely not accountability and competitive elections. And it may indeed be resulting in non -competitive elections. In the United States, House and Senate incumbents are reelected nearly 99 percent of the time. By comparison, the combined incumbent reelection rate for Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom is a somewhat healthier 83.1 percent.
    Of course, it is not possible to identify precisely the causes of uncompetitive elections because many factors—single-member districts, gerrymandering, unrestrained spending—converge to affect competition. But if you talk to political challengers, they clearly believe that unlimited spending greatly benefits incumbents, who have the inside track for collecting large contributions from interested private money. Congressional incumbents in the United States routinely outspend their challengers by ratios of more than 3 to 1. Unregulated spending is almost certainly driving out competition and insulating incumbents.
    In order for the Court to avoid a replay of the arguments offered in the 1970s, it should test the premises of the Buckley decision against the experience of other nations that have taken a different path by imposing limits on both campaign contributions and spending. The Court will find the opposite of its initial assumption that spending limits somehow give incumbents an edge.
    Despite the claim that challengers need unregulated spending to compete against the advantages of incumbency, all of the evidence available from some of America's closest democratic friends shows that elections are more competitive when campaign expenditures are regulated. Among eight democracies with political institutions that are most similar to the United States, it is precisely those that regulate political campaign spending—such as Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand—that enjoy the most competitive elections (defined as elections decided by the closest margins). Conversely, the democracies that do not curb campaign spending—the United States, Jamaica and Ireland—have the least competitive elections.
    Indeed, if we define a "competitive" election as one decided by more than 10 percent of the voters, the competitiveness of elections in the U.S. has been declining steadily over the last eight years at the same time that uncontrolled campaign expenditures have skyrocketed. It doesn’t have to be this way. To illustrate, consider Canada's 2004 election—with spending limits—where 36.5 percent of all legislative races were competitive. In the same year, only 7 percent of legislative races in the United States were.
    Similarly, evidence from abroad suggests that expenditure limits do not erode civil and political rights or the freedoms of speech and the press. According to ratings provided by Freedom House, a nongovernmental organization that annually judges the status of political and civil freedom for every nation in the world, countries with expenditure limits on average earned consistently higher "freedom scores" than countries without such ceilings. More to the point, no democracy has experienced a decline in its freedom ranking after introducing limits on campaign expenditures, and some new democracies––like Mexico, Taiwan, Korea and Thailand––have actually seen marked improvement in political freedom while controlling election spending.
    Now, of course, those who accept the Court’s basic premise in Buckley will contend that campaign spending limits themselves constitute intrinsic violations of freedom since they impose a “quantity restriction” on speech. Thus, the free societies with spending caps would be even freer without them. But this equates freedom with the right to spend unlimited money, a kind of freedom that few people enjoy and that thwarts other types of freedom, like the freedom to participate in a real political dialogue on an equal basis.
    The comparative perspective helps us to see that unregulated spending may in fact drive out political competition and squelch authentic political discussion. The Supreme Court’s controversial view that identifies unlimited campaign spending with free speech is not shared by the rest of the democratic world. Indeed, most democracies believe that political freedom and competition are more likely to occur when the influence of money is reduced or eliminated from election campaigns. If the United States limits campaign spending, there would be no guarantee that freedom and competition automatically would be enhanced, but fears of a loss of freedom and competition are clearly unwarranted.
     
    #14 B_Nick4444, Nov 3, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
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