Tuesday, June 17, 2014

GOP corruption at root of Eric Cantor's loss, and Republican right wing ideologues have only themselves to blame … by gimleteye

Eric Cantor, House majority leader, was defeated -- not by immigration -- but by his own allegiances to Wall Street values. The best report I've read so far is Lee Fang in the Republic Report. This post originally appeared at the Republic Report. Fang did the work of excavating what Cantor's challenger Dave Brat actually said on the campaign trail: "The New York Times claims that Brat focused his campaign primarily on immigration reform. Brat certainly made immigration a visible topic in his race, but Republic Report listened to several hours of Brat stump speeches and radio appearances and that issue came up far less what Brat called the main problem in government: corruption and cronyism."

Cronyism is not just a Republican issue.

Consider Florida, and Democrat Alex Sink who ran for governor against Rick Scott in 2010. Sink had been Florida's Treasurer since 2006 and prior to that, president of Florida operations for NationsBank. By the campaign in 2010, Florida was in the grip of the worst housing bust and financial crisis in the state's modern history. The State Administration Board that manages Florida's investment savings, including pensions for teachers, was facing a billion dollar loss based on Lehman's bad advice and sale of risky bonds. Sink campaigned as though the major economic event in the recent era had not even happened. Not a word on the "corruption and cronyism" that resonates with so many voters. Sink lost by 1%.

Eric Cantor’s Opponent Beat Him By Calling Out GOP Corruption
June 11, 2014 - by Lee Fang

“All of the investment banks, up in New York and DC, they should have gone to jail."

That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night.

The national media is buzzing about Brat’s victory, but for all of the wrong reasons.

Did the tea party swoop in and help Brat, as many in the Democratic Party are suggesting? Actually, the Wall Street Journal reports no major tea party or anti-establishment GOP group spent funds to defeat Cantor. Did Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, lose because of his religion, as some have suggested? There’s no evidence so far of anti-Semitism during the campaign. Was Cantor caught flatfooted? Nope; Cantor’s campaign spent close to $1 million on the race and several outside advocacy groups, including the National Rifle Association, the National Realtors Association and the American Chemistry Council (a chemical industry lobbying association) came in and poured money into the district to defeat Brat. The New York Times claims that Brat focused his campaign primarily on immigration reform. Brat certainly made immigration a visible topic in his race, but Republic Report listened to several hours of Brat stump speeches and radio appearances and that issue came up far less what Brat called the main problem in government: corruption and cronyism.

Brat certainly made immigration a visible topic in his race, but Republic Report listened to several hours of Brat stump speeches and radio appearances and that issue came up far less what Brat called the main problem in government: corruption and cronyism.
Brat told Internet radio host Flint Engelman that the “number one plank” in his campaign is “free markets.” Brat went on to explain, “Eric Cantor and the Republican leadership do not know what a free market is at all, and the clearest evidence of that is the financial crisis … When I say free markets, I mean no favoritism to K Street lobbyists.” Banks like Goldman Sachs were not fined for their role in the financial crisis — rather, they were rewarded with bailouts, Brat has said.

Brat, who has identified with maverick GOP lawmakers like Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, spent much of the campaign slamming both parties for being in the pocket of “Wall Street crooks” and DC insiders. The folks who caused the financial crisis, Brat says, “went onto Obama’s rolodex, the Republican leadership, Eric’s rolodex.”

During several campaign appearances, Brat says what upset him the most about Cantor was his role in gutting the last attempt at congressional ethics reform. “If you want to find out the smoking gun in this campaign,” Brat told Engelman, “just go Google and type the STOCK Act and CNN and Eric Cantor.” (On Twitter, Brat has praised the conservative author Peter Schweizer, whose work on congressional corruption forced lawmakers into action on the STOCK Act.)

The STOCK Act, a bill to crack down on insider trading, was significantly watered down by Cantor in early 2012. The lawmaker took out provisions that would have forced Wall Street “political intelligence” firms to register as traditional lobbyists would and removed a section of the bill to empower prosecutors to go after public officials who illegally trade on insider knowledge. And Brat may be right to charge that Cantor’s moves on the STOCK Act were motivated by self interest. Cantor played a leading role in blocking legislation to fix the foreclosure crisis while his wife and his stock portfolio were deeply invested in mortgage banks.

Most self-described tea party Republicans, including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have railed against Washington in a general sense without calling out the powerful – often Republican-leaning — groups that wield the most power.

Not Brat.

“Eric is running on Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable principles,” Brat told a town hall audience, later clarifying that he meant the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying trade group in the country. He also called out the American Chemistry Council for funding ads in his race with Cantor, telling a radio host that his opponent had asked his “crony capitalist friends to run more ads.” Brat repeats his mantra: “I’m not against business. I’m against big business in bed with big government.”

If Brat ascends to Congress, which is quite likely given the Republican-leaning district that he’ll run in as the GOP nominee, he may actually continue taking on powerful elites in Washington.
Indeed, Cantor has been a close ally to top lobbyists and the financial industry. “Many lobbyists on K Street whose clients include major financial institutions consider Cantor a go to member in leadership on policy debates, including overhauling the mortgage finance market, extending the government backstop for terrorism insurance, how Wall Street should be taxed and flood insurance,” noted Politico following Cantor’s loss last night. In 2011, Cantor was caught on video promising a group of commodity speculators that he would roll back regulations on their industry.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Cantor-Brat race. For one, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that not only did Cantor easily out raise and outspend Brat by over $5 million to around $200,000 in campaign funds, but burned through a significant amount on lavish travel and entertainment instead of election advocacy. Federal Election Commission records show Cantor’s PAC spent at least $168,637 on steakhouses, $116,668 on luxury hotels (including a $17,903 charge to the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows) and nearly a quarter million on airfare (with about $140,000 in chartered flights) — just in the last year and a half!

But on the policy issues and political ramifications of this race, it’s not easy to box Brat into a neat caricature of an anti-immigration zealot or tea party demagogue, or, in TIME’s hasty reporting, a “shopworn conservative boilerplate.” If Brat ascends to Congress, which is quite likely given the Republican-leaning district that he’ll run in as the GOP nominee, he may actually continue taking on powerful elites in Washington.


Anonymous said...

Eric Cantor lost his seat for one reason only. He did not work his district. Instead, he paid more attention to his national role giving an opponent free range to move in and take his seat away.

This is nothing new and all the speculations coming from every corner is mere speculation, political ignorance in its constant yen to fool people into thinking they know what they are talking about.

It happens more frequently than anyone can imagine. Forget your supporters and you will lose.

This was no special Tea Party win. The big Tea Party groups weren’t even there, they were as surprised as everyone else.

So take a bead and settle down Tea Party, stop bragging and taking credit for something that you did not do. This was not because of you. You simply got lucky this time and want to grab the glory.

Cantor forgot the first rule of smart politics: Take good care of you district no matter what, not just in expensive mailers, but up close and personal. Visit your district often, keep your supporters informed, let them know how much you appreciate their support, basically, talk to them.

Corruption? Not this time, that is a joke. Corruption is as much in the Democrat domain as the Republican’s and that is a fact

Anonymous said...

Cantor lost because he is unlikable and Jewish. The new guy is some born again nut job.

Anonymous said...

Please don't pull out the Jewish card. Cantor was Jewish all the times he won.

Anonymous said...

There is no question that corruption and cronyism was there, but these were minor factors in his defeat. He forgot that he was there to serve people, lost touch with the people in his district, was blinded by power, and forgot his core mission. Many elected officials become blinded by power. But democracy has a way of self-correcting. They say he had not had a townhall meeting in his district in 5 years. I doubt he made time to meet with individual people on their problems. There is a natural tendency for talking heads to want to conjure up some grand overpowering theme that lead to his demise. But it was simply that he lost touch with the people in his district - all politics is local.

He will join the ranks of the lobbyists on K street, these were the people he attended - and now make money. So one way to think about it is that he traded world power for money.

As we look at his defeat, I wonder how many other Congresspeople are in the same boat? Here are some things to look for. Do human beings answer the phone in their district and DC offices? Are they friendly, cordial, and interested in understanding your problem or issue? Are they good problem-solvers? Do they follow-up on your problem with various agencies and make sure you are aware of where things are? How often does the Congressperson come home to the district? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, every six months, once a year? If he comes frequently, does he meet with people on their problems? Does he have a highly visible presence in the district attending fish fries, parties, doing radio and TV shows, and attending a wide variety of events? How difficult is it to reach him and his staff for one-on-one meetings? Do they only send emails to you when they want money? How often do they hold townhall meetings on issues that are important to people in the district? Is there strong coordination with local and state governments on their federal needs and requirements?

There maybe more Cantor's in Congress who need to be relieved of duty.

Anonymous said...

Anon Above:

Great post and credible thinking.

There are surprisingly scores of elected officials who fall into this category, not only those in Congress but everywhere. They get on the political “high” forgetting where they came from and who helped get them there. Then they sneak back into their community as though they have been representing the voters with every degree of vigor they can muster.

But I sense a change in voters’ attitudes toward their self-serving elected officials this election cycle. With all that’s been happening on our national, state and local levels that directly affect the people, I suspect we the people are finally starting to take a hard look at those miscreants who keep coming back to the well time and time again for help without replenishing it with the tons of water they have misused.

As one person said to me recently, “They think they know everything and don’t know that they don’t know anything.” Well said.

Be very careful with your vote everyone. Use it wisely and whatever you do, do not reward misrepresentation with your vote. Don’t give it away, Make them earn it. Look where they have been and what they have done with your vote. If they showed no sense of working in your interest, walk away from them as fast as you can and don’t look back. Instead, start looking at their opponent. Discuss your in interests with them and then give them your full support.

I guarantee it will work every time.

Anonymous said...

Nope. What's wrong with you commenters? Can't you read and understand what you just read? Cantor lost for exactly the reasons that the author stated. People are sick and tired of, as Brat said, big government in bed with big business. Very simple. I'll repeat that, in case you have trouble reading it: people are sick and tired of big business in bed with big government. The natives are getting restless, you elitists jackasses. You'd better get some guns 'cause we're coming after you if you don't straighten up and start doing something for us instead of your a**hole buddies. Yeah, that means you, Gimenez and Bell...

Anonymous said...

When Congresspeople are in touch with regular people in their districts, it mediates crazy positions that they might take. They know the plight of veterans because they have cases of hundreds of them that they are working with the VA. They know the critical importance of healthcare because they know families who have gone bankrupt because of a lack of it. They know people need Medicaid expansion because without it many people in their districts have no healthcare. They know about the lack of jobs because people in their districts are suffering because they have no jobs. They know seniors must have social security because they have many seniors in their districts who would be poor without it, and these seniors vote in every election. See where I am going -keeping in touch with the district keeps them grounded.

CATO said...

Wait a cotton picking minute there Mr Gimspierre If Cantor lost because of his ties to Wall Street why is Barack Obama still El Presidente? Doesn't he have ties to big bad bankers on Wall Street, or does he get a pinko pass?
Once again your partisan blinders shield you from the truth