A 'cartoonish' level of corruption: Kyrsten Sinema blasted for fundraising from business groups opposed to Dem agenda
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema faced blistering rebuke Monday following reports that the right-wing Arizona Democrat will solicit large campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists staunchly opposed to her party's flagship $3.5 trillion Build Back Better budget reconciliation package.
The New York Times reports Sinema is scheduled to host a Tuesday fundraiser with five influential business lobby groups. According to the paper:
Under Ms. Sinema's political logo, the influential National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the grocers' PAC, along with lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors and a small business group called the S-Corp Political Action Committee, have invited association members to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon for 45 minutes to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800, payable to Sinema for Arizona.
These organizations vehemently oppose the Build Back Better bill, which Robert Yeakel, the director of government relations at the National Grocers Association, recently called a "laundry list of tax hikes."
Sinema also rejects the bill as proposed. Along with a small coterie of conservative Democrats including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, she has defied her party—and the wishes of a majority of U.S. voters—by rejecting the proposal's $3.5 trillion price tag.
"So Kyrsten Sinema is using the reconciliation fight to collect $5,800 checks from corporate PACs opposing the bill?" tweeted Sawyer Hackett, executive director of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro's People First Future PAC.
"Each of these PACs overwhelmingly support[s] Republicans over Democrats," Hackett added.
Sinema and others also came under fire over the weekend for opposing tax hikes on corporations and the super-rich to finance Democrats' reconciliation package, with Demand Progress campaign director Robert Cruickshank accusing right-wing Democrats of "carrying water for big corporations and billionaires who don't want their taxes to go up."
You only really need to know two things about the reconciliation battle: 1. It’s not a fight between progressives… https://t.co/0n0qrLfVpW— David Sirota (@David Sirota) 1632776350.0
As Sinema gets ready to collect checks from opponents of the Build Back Better bill, House Democrats are preparing to pass the sweeping social welfare, infrastructure, and climate measure later this week. House progressives are threatening to block bipartisan infrastructure legislation unless conservative Democrats support the full $3.5 trillion proposal.
"So Kyrsten Sinema is using the reconciliation fight to collect $5,800 checks from corporate PACs opposing the bill?"
—Sawyer Hackett, People First Future
On Saturday, The Daily Beast reported that the Arizona Democratic Party passed a resolution vowing that if Sinema "continues to delay, disrupt, or vote to gut the reconciliation package of its necessary funding" and keeps opposing filibuster reform, it will "go officially on record and will give Sen. Sinema a vote of no confidence."
Democratic organizer Kai Newkirk told The Daily Beast that "the Arizonans who did the work to elect Sinema have had enough of her betraying the voters who put her in office. It's time for her to show the bare minimum of accountability and stop obstructing the agenda that Democrats, including her, campaigned on and were elected to deliver."
"Sinema is setting her political future on fire," Newkirk added. "If she doesn't change course drastically and soon, it will be too late."
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is taking a page out of Donald Trump's book, hiring a an attorney who has represented convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. In 2020 Trump "poached" two Epstein attorneys, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr. According to The Daily Beast, the embattled Florida Republican Congressman hired another ex-Epstein attorney, one who has also defended the drug lord "El Chapo," as the Dept. of Justice investigation into Gaetz's alleged possible sex trafficking and sex with a minor grows.
"The probe has reportedly expanded from sexual misconduct to include campaign finance issues," The Independent reports.
"Quoting a "person familiar with the matter,' The Daily Beast reports that Marc Fernich is representing the campaign in connection with the investigation into the Republican Congressman," according to The Independent. That investigation "reportedly includes sex trafficking, prostitution, obstruction of justice, and campaign finance issues."
Gaetz has not been charged and denies any allegations.
Citing his "mastery of precedent," Fernich's website says that enables him "to construct subtle, novel and creative arguments that other attorneys may miss. These arguments can make potential winners out of seemingly hopeless cases, spelling the difference between victory and defeat."
It lists some of his "notable" clients, including former acting Gambino crime family boss John A. “Junior" Gotti and other "Alleged Crime Bosses"; "Alleged Cult Leader" Keith Raniere; and "Pharmaceutical Executive and Socialite Charged with Killing Allegedly Autistic Son," Gigi Jordan.
Under "notable clients," it also lists "Friends of Matt Gaetz, Campaign Committee for U.S. Congressman."
Last week, Jennifer Rubin wrote about the sinking reputation of the United States Supreme Court. With respect to a new abortion law in Texas, which invalidates Roe v. Wade, the Post columnist said that, "The nub of the problem is not that (or not only that) voters are angry that the court allowed a diabolical and invasive Texas law to go into effect. The problem, rather, is that once the facade of impartiality and nonpartisanship is shattered, it is nearly impossible to get back."
It's an important piece. You should read it. But the assertion that "the facade of impartiality and nonpartisanship" is hard to put back together once it's started coming apart is worth dwelling on. Is it true? Well, I have to repeat myself, to wit: most people most of the time have something better to do than pay attention to politics. 2000's Bush v. Gore should have shattered "the facade" utterly, but didn't. Why? For one thing, 9/11. For another, most people have other things to do.
Three recent polls show the high court's approval rating taking a nosedive. "Just 40 percent of Americans approve of the court, according to the latest Gallup poll," the Associated Press reported. "That's among the lowest it's been since Gallup started asking that question more than 20 years ago. Approval was 49 percent in July." (Such was the occasion for Rubin's piece and other pieces you saw last week.) But each poll can be pointed to as evidence of the nosedive being temporary. Unlike the United States Congress, which has an abysmal reputation, the court's numbers never stay low. They go up a little. Then down a little, or a lot, before returning safely to the mean.
Left to their own devices — which is to say, left to find something better to do than pay attention to politics — most people can be trusted to forget whatever bad thing the court does. (Voters are renowned for their short memories.) What's more, most people tend to agree with Justice Stephen Breyer's rose-tinted view: that the court is an institutional source of liberty. Combined, apathy and myth create conditions in which the court can weather pretty much anything.
But what if most Americans were not left to their own devices. What if a major political party had the incentive to never let them forget? What if a major political party grew hostile toward court myths?
Incentive has existed on the margins of the Democratic Party since at least the moment Mitch McConnell robbed Barack Obama of a justice. Those marginal voices have been growing louder, and hence less marginal, since 2015 with every court-related outrage, particularly the GOP's ramming through of a nominee during an election year, which was the reason given for robbing Barack Obama. (Not to mention expediting Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation before the FBI could thoroughly vet him; not to mention the appointment of three justices in all by a president who colluded with a hostile foreign power to win.)
The Democratic Party's centrists, however, have not felt the same pressure, despite all the outrage over more than half a decade. They have continued to see the utility in respecting the court. Unlike liberals and progressives, centrists have not been moved by the court's approval of the former president's Muslim ban, by the court's gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, by the court's kneecapping of trade unions, by the court's eviction, in effect, of essential workers from their homes and other rulings of factional Democratic interest.
But the Supreme Court's lawless decision to use the "shadow docket" to allow an anti-abortion law in Texas to invalidate half a century of court precedent without a single argument or a single written opinion cuts right through the Democratic Party's respectable white people. It has radicalized those voters who had hoped against hope during more than a half-decade's worth of outrage that Roe would not fall. They see it falling now. Fast. It's open season on the court's legitimacy.
This would explain the court's recent polling slump. If I'm correct about these incentives, we might see its numbers shift profoundly — from a familiar pattern of gentle ups and downs to a new pattern of permanent and painful lows. "I do think there's a sustained campaign to delegitimize the court that has gotten some traction on the left," a big-wheel attorney who often argues before the court told the AP. But it's not the left. This is respectable white people we're talking about.
Let's hope I'm right. If most people most of the time continue to think of the court as an institutional source of liberty, and if most people most of time continue to forget the bad things it does, there's no hope of reforming it, whether that means expanding the number of justices, implementing term limits or something called "jurisdiction stripping." (See the Editorial Board's Chris Sprigman for more.) There would be, therefore, no hope in turning Roe into statutory law. The court would strike it down. The Democrats must beat them to it. Before they can save the village, however, they have to burn it down.
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