A really interesting report was released today by CampaignMoney.org, which follows Mitch McConnell's use of the filibuster and how money seems to pass to him when he exercises that "minority voice" of his.
The full report (PDF) highlights eight specific instances where McConnell's fortune increased commensurate with his blocking efforts in the Senate. It's more blatant than we usually see.
For example, his Big Oil interests appreciated the filibuster of oil subsidies:
On March 29, 2012, the Senate voted 51 in favor and 47 opposed to cut off debate and bring a final vote on a bill to remove $24 billion in tax breaks and giveaways to the five largest oil companies in America, some of the most profitable companies in the history of the world.
His Big Oil donors are not subtle. On March 26th, just three days earlier and the very same day that Senate debate began on the Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act, McConnell pulled in an astonishing $131,500 in contributions from oil-‐related donors in Midland, Texas, the oil industry's base for extraction in the Permian Basin.
After filibustering efforts to bring money stashed overseas back into the US, McConnell was rewarded handsomely for his efforts:
Unfortunately McConnell helped block all these recent efforts to bring jobs back to the U.S., looking out repeatedly for his large corporate donors and opponents of these measures, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Companies with key stakes in these policies understand how important it is to invest in McConnell's fundraising committees. Taking the companies that lobbied on S.3816 in 2010 as a sample, we find that McConnell raised close to $1 million from executives and PACs associated with 37 of the companies that reported lobbying on the bill in at least two of their filings.19 The largest donor in this group is General Electric (giving at least $174,812 to McConnell over the years), followed by Microsoft Corp ($100,750), Koch Industries ($85,450), and Exxon Mobil ($74,300).
Not bad for saying "no" all the time, eh?
And then there's the DISCLOSE Act, that thing which at least takes a step toward campaign finance disclosure for those big-money donors who hide behind layer after layer of tax-exempt organizations. It passed the House and went to the Senate where McConnell killed it, remember? Yes, he was rewarded for that, too.
Beyond the partisan advantage dark money grants Republicans -- increasing McConnell's chances of becoming majority leader-- he also has personal ties to some of the biggest dark money groups.
The largest dark money group, Crossroads GPS (Grassroots Policy Strategies), is run by McConnell's former protégé, Steven Law. Law says most of what he learned about politics, he learned from McConnell, and it shows. First as a Senate staffer for McConnell, then on his own helping the U.S. Chamber of Commerce transition to becoming a big political spender and as head of Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, Law's career has involved raising enormous sums of money for political uses.
Crossroads was this past year's highest spending dark money group, with $70.6 million in disclosed spending, and every penny either attacking Democrats or supporting Republicans. McConnell has returned the favor, speaking at two of the group's fundraising events, pressuring members of his caucus who privately support transparency to maintain party-‐line opposition to legislation like the DISCLOSE Act that would require Crossroads to disclose its donors.
There are more. From undermining unions' election process to helping underwater homeowners to blocking judges disliked by the US Chamber of Commerce to the CFPB, Mitch McConnell has a vested interest in blocking all progress. A big vested interest, and the quid pro quo is right there in all its corrupt glory.
McConnell is predictably aggravated over the report. Via WHAS11.com:
"The fact that this shameless hack-job is peddled on the same week Sen. McConnell is credited by Republicans and Democrats alike for saving the country from falling off the fiscal cliff shows how partisan and out of touch the authors of this garbage really are. The thesis of the shoddy work could be proven false in less than ten minutes by an intern with an iPhone."
More than the debt ceiling, more than just about everything else, campaign finance transparency is an issue that must be fixed, either by Constitutional amendment or an act of Congress. I don't really care which way it happens, but it must happen. The most recent examples of American Commitment and Americans for Job Security were the very edge of the tip of the 2012 iceberg.
As my Wisconsin friend likes to say, there's more. There's always more.