While once Democrats were the party of organized labor and to some degree represented the class interests of the poor and dispossessed, that’s no longer the case, as demonstrated in a series of recent stories.
We begin with a report outlining the way that political contributions have come to represent the quickest way to install plutocratic interests in Democratic administrations.
Email exchanges involving top officials at the Democratic National Committee released along with private documents by WikiLeaks show that DNC officials hoped to reward top donors and insiders with appointments to federal boards and commissions in coordination with the White House.
The revelations give an inside look into how the Democratic Party attempted to leverage its access and influence with the White House to bring in cash.
In an April 20, 2016 email, DNC National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan canvassed what appears to be the committee’s finance department – its fundraising office – for names of people (mainly donors) to reward with federal appointments on boards and commissions.
That email exchange yielded a list compiled by DNC Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer and emailed to Kaplan on April 26 titled “Boards and Commissions Names_Final,” which listed the names of twenty-three DNC donors and insiders.
Hillary, favorite of the hedge funders
No group of plutocrats did more to bring down the economy eight years ago that the reckless wastrels who run America’s hedge funds.
Hedge funds, for those who may have forgotten, make massive wagers on the future state of stock markets, with countless billion hanging on the outcome.
Hedge funds were among the particular targets of the ire roused by the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a candidacy actively opposed by the Democratic National Committee, as those recently leaked emails revealed.
teleSUR English covers the numbers:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been the leading recipient of political donations handed out by hedge funds during this years election cycle, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The data, which was collected from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, shows that seven financial firms alone have contributed nearly US$48.5 million towards political action committees (PAC) and groups that support Clinton.
Clinton’s main benefactors include Haim Saban of Saban Capital Group, which gave US$10 million to pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA. Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons has donated US$9.5 million to pro-Clinton groups. Meanwhile, billionaire George Soros, a long-time patron of Democratic causes and chairman of Soros Fund Management is responsible for generating over US$7 million toward the Clinton campaign.
The latest findings take place as Hillary Clinton delivered her Democratic nomination acceptance speech on Thursday in which she vowed to “get money out of politics” by passing “a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.”
Only 19 percent of Clinton’s donations come from individuals contributing $200 or less. Meanwhile, Wall Street is her largest industry donor, with $41 million going into her campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Partying with the plutocrats
Last week’s Democratic National Convention was a plutocratic playground.
We turn to The Intercept for a 28 July story:
Blackstone, the giant Wall Street private equity firm, will hold an invitation-only reception before the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The event, at the swanky Barnes Foundation art museum, includes the usual perks for attendees: free food, drink, and complimentary shuttle buses to the final night of the convention.
What’s unusual is that the host is precisely the kind of “shadow banker” that Hillary Clinton has singled out as needing more regulation in her rhetoric about getting tough on Wall Street.
But Blackstone President and Chief Operating Officer Hamilton “Tony” James doesn’t seem the least bit intimidated.
James has been a stalwart supporter of Barack Obama, holding fundraisers for him at his home, even while other Wall Street titans criticized him — in fact the co-founder of James’s own company, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, once likened Obama’s push to increase taxes on private-equity firms to a “war,” saying: “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
Last December, James hosted a high-dollar fundraiser for Hillary Clinton that featured Warren Buffett. He’s made six-figure donations to the Center for American Progress, known as Clinton’s White House in exile, and sits on CAP’s Board of Trustees. And he has made no secret of wanting to hold a high-level position in a future Democratic administration, perhaps even treasury secretary.
Also reported 28 July was this from the Los Angeles Times:
Before the Democrats even gaveled in the convention, the disclosure of thousands of internal party emails by WikiLeaks shed new light on the nakedly transactional and at times seedy process of trolling for mega-contributions from big spenders who wanted to be part of the insider crowd here. In the emails, donors and fundraisers discussed how to time their checks to get them the most access.
Party officials plotted how to get one firm, Honeywell, which receives billions of dollars in government contracts, to kick in $60,000. Not enough to secure a hotel room for the event, but an exception was made. “This gesture would definitely help our relationships with them for later in the election cycle and for years to come,” an email from a party fundraiser said.
Corporate logos are emblazoned on most big-ticket events at the convention in the same fashion they are at major-league sporting contests.
The logo of hometown cable giant Comcast is stamped on the lanyard that convention-goers wear — the firm’s executive vice president is helping raise money for the convention. Anheuser-Busch was the premier sponsor of the Latino Leaders Network lunch at the Crystal Tea Room, where the featured speaker was Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who had been on the shortlist to be Clinton’s vice president.
Facebook invited lawmakers and lobbyists to come together at Philadelphia’s trendy Buddakan restaurant, with its giant gold Buddha and techno vibe, for “the most exclusive party of the week,” which it hosted with comedy website Funny or Die. Google [hosted] a much-talked-about party later.
It’s all about that Hope™ for ever-vaster, tax-sheltered profits, with no small Change™ accepted.