Streams

The Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics

Monday, June 02, 2014

Does money buy political influence? Does money buy political influence? (Copyright: Lightboxx/Shutterstock)

Kenneth Vogel gives a tour of a new political world dramatically reordered by ever-larger flows of cash. Vogel talks about the secret gatherings of big-spending Republicans and Democrats alike—from California poolsides to DC hotel bars—to expose the way the mega-money men (and a few women) are dominating the new political landscape. His book Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp—on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politicsis about the multimillionaires and billionaires getting involved in politics, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, nouveau cowboy Foster Friess, Texas trial lawyer couple Amber and Steve Mostyn, Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

After the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, very wealthy donors “suddenly become the new kings of politics. And they are courted, heavily.”

 

On how major political donors are like sports team owners:

“These are folks who have been wildly successful in their chosen field…if you’re a sports junkie, maybe you plunk down a couple hundred million dollars for the LA Clippers. If you’re a  political junkie, maybe you try to get Rick Santorum elected President ‘cause he’s your buddy.”

 

On what all that money buys these mega donors:

“You have some of these big donors who are meddling in a very real way that they wouldn’t have been able to before – shaping ads, shaping strategy. Oftentimes, again, totally divorced from what works, what the voters want to hear, or what the political operatives would prefer to do with their money.”

 

On the Koch Brothers:

“Their real power comes from the ability to mobilize and channel massive donations from a vast network of other wealthy donors.” Vogel says that their organization Americans for Prosperity is poised to spend $125 million in this year’s midterm elections.

 

On George Soros:

“He tried this before the rules were sort of laid out in such a way that made it not necessarily easy to do, but facilitated it. He was the sort of original mega-donor back in 2004.”

Guests:

Kenneth Vogel

Comments [3]

Amy from Manhattan

Public reaction to rich donors' funding of ads isn't a restriction on the donors' free speech--it's protected free speech on the part of the public. What's unconstitutional is for the gov't. itself to prohibit the speech.

Jun. 02 2014 01:55 PM
Sheldon from NYC

Not just in the US - Sheldon Adelson also owns a very popular very low priced Israeli newspaper with clear Right-wing ideology. Most people have opted for a discounted newspaper rather than pay for real actual journalism and reporting.
It's like amazon.com, it's cheap and feels good to shop there, but in the long run the consequences are grave.

Jun. 02 2014 12:40 PM

Who wants it the most?

These days, the rich.

Back in the 70s, its was the poor Bronx Puerto Ricans, fed up with lousy health care, according to this morning's news:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/lab-coat-afro-and-shades-taking-lincoln-hospital/

Any lessons?

Jun. 02 2014 12:35 PM

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