Over the last three years, the group of organized, well-financed liars ironically named the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” have come to be synonymous with vicious smears and mendacity. Most honorable people, who have any decency at all, look back at the group’s bogus attacks with disgust and disappointment. These clowns smeared a war hero to help a couple of draft-dodgers, and the Republican Party cheered them on.
That, of course, was nearly four years ago. Can we leave this malicious moment in the past? Actually, no. Chris Hayes has a tremendous piece in the new issue of The Nation noting that the Swift Boat Liars’ financiers aren’t just lingering, they’re as active as ever.
Research by The Nation into Federal Election Commission records of the group’s top twenty donors reveals that they’ve been remarkably active in this cycle, contributing and bundling nearly $200,000 to presidential candidates. This does not bode well. During the last presidential campaign, the wealthy backers of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — now rebranded as Swift Vets and POWs for Truth — didn’t do their real dirty work until the general election, where as a tax-exempt 527 group they operated outside the restraints of direct campaign contributions. We may wish we were done with the Swift Boaters, but they aren’t done with us.
In 2004 the top twenty donors all gave (with one exception) at least $50,000 to the group. The top three — Houston home builder Bob Perry, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and billionaire drugstore impresario and investor Harold Simmons — gave a combined $9.5 million ($4.45 million, $3 million and $2 million, respectively). Calculating the influence of these and the slightly less wealthy Swift Boat donors during this cycle is a touch more complicated than simply adding up their contributions. Each one exerts far more influence as a bundler, given the federal restrictions on individual giving, which limit donors to a maximum of $4,600 per cycle. So The Nation looked not only at the contributions of the donors themselves but also at those of their family members and employees.
In 2004, Swifties were closely tied to the Bush administration, particularly Karl Rove. Care to guess who these guys are rallying behind now? John McCain.