Money Laundering, Political Style

Jan 12, 2013
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One of the more interesting things just coming out of this past November’s election is the effect Citizen’s United had. For those of you living under a rock or just not up on politics of the past 4 years, in a completely partisan decision the Supreme Court in early 2010 said that no limits or bans may be placed on corporate political spending.  Indeed, political spending of all types was up, including so-called “Super PAC” spending that went up almost an order of magnitude, about 80 million to 800 million.

Let’s move the spotlight a bit onto an old player of the political stage, Dick Morris. Mr. Morris is widely credited with helping Bill Clinton in his successful bid for the 1978 Arkansas governorship, and then in 1996 was considered one of the key advisers in Clinton’s 1996 presidential re-election campaign. Then months before the 1996 election during the Democratic National Convention, it was revealed that Morris not only had an affair with a prostitute, he allowed said prostitute to listen in on conversations with the president.  Morris did indeed go away quietly for a little while, but then decided to re-invent himself as one of the biggest critics of the very man he helped re-elect. He’s practically made a career out of trashing the Clintons at every opportunity, including some epic bizarre claims – he actually suggested in 2012 that Bill Clinton wanted Obama to lose the election, but was “forced” to help him win because Obama was holding Hillary Clinton hostage.

So what are you to do if you’re now an extremely partisan talking head and the Supreme Court has ruled the corporate purse-strings to be taken off? You start a Super PAC and ask for donations like there’s no tomorrow.  There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s the whole point of a Super PAC – raise and spend as much as possible as a means for a specific political end. But this Super PAC that Dick Morris is chief strategist for and campaigned heavily for has some very interesting expenses – it paid about 1.7 million dollars to a company called NewsMax Media. It turns out that NewsMax Media actually manages the opt-in e-mail list that Dick Morris runs.  Confusing? Let’s break it down a bit – Dick Morris is Chief Political Strategist at SuperPAC for America. Dick Morris also has an e-mail list that contains hundreds of thousands of opt-in subscribers who want to find out his and his friends political spins on things. SuperPAC for America paid the company that manages Dick Morris e-mail list 1.7 million dollars for the rights to use that list. I have zero doubts that SuperPAC for America raised a lot more than 1.7 million dollars, but it would appear that it’s not at all a stretch to say that Dick Morris used the guise of political fundraising to quietly filter a large chunk of money, indirectly, to himself.

I’m certainly not the first to point out these facts and suggest that on the surface, at least, it looks like money laundering. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made these claims on her show this past December, and not long after Dick Morris’ army of lawyers contacted her, apparently incensed about … something? It’s hard to tell what, exactly. According to MediaMatters.com, the lawyers were upset that she actually used the 1.7 million dollar figure, but they appear to have not denied that the money was filtered from SuperPAC for America which Dick Morris founded and is the “Chief Strategist” for, and went to NewsMax Media which manages Dick Morris’ e-mail list and pays him lots for the use of it.

Welcome to modern politics, where corporations can not only spend millions or even billions on political issues, but the money you donate can be given to a man who was once disgraced for having an affair with a prostitute and letting that prostitute listen in on presidential conversations.

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