U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is setting fundraising records in a way of which his campaign seems to be proud. But when you dig into the numbers, it becomes fairly obvious that he is setting these records in a way of which the American people have become sick and tired.
Portman’s fundraising success is not the product of small, civic-minded donors with an interest in good governance. Portman’s fundraising success is the product of dark money, special interests, outside groups, and the kind of moneyed electioneering that has the American people disgusted with its system of politics in 2016.
The last two quarters for Portman have been astounding. In the last quarter of 2015, Portman raised $2.1 million for a total of $9.8 million the year before his re-election bid, “shattering” Buckeye state fundraising records, according to USA Today.
His first quarter of 2016 was just as massive, with the campaign reporting this week it raised $2.4 million, according to the Toledo Blade, with a total of $13.5 million in the war chest.
The first factor in Portman’s success is the Republican Party establishment shitting bricks at the prospect of their crude and vulgar base nominating an equally crude and vulgar carnival barker in the form of Donald J. Trump to sit atop their ticket.
The nomination of the man Trump spells mucho trouble for the GOP’s hopes of maintaining a majority in the U.S. Senate, which means people like Rob Portman are also in mucho trouble. The nomination of that slimy tent revival faith healer Ted Cruz wouldn’t bode much better for the likes of Portman.
The Rothenberg & Gonzalez Political Report (which is a source of great wisdom for many inside-the-beltway types) pegs the race in Ohio for U.S. Senate as “toss-up/tilts Republican” right now. The brick shitting will really commence in earnest if those wise old prognosticators Stuart (Rothenberg) and Nathan (Gonzalez) see fit to switch it to “toss-up/tits Democratic.”
Meanwhile, of seven polls that have been conducted in the match-up between former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Portman since March of last year, Strickland has won six, including the two conducted so far in 2016. It should be noted that the average puts Strickland at plus 1.5 points, which is within the margin of error, but it’s still a bad look for an incumbent U.S. Senator.
So, natch, all the typical Republican groups and people from all the typical places are pouring resources into the Great River State to prop up the spectacularly unremarkable incumbency of Robert Jones Portman.
As of the latest filing Feb. 24 with the Federal Elections Commission, Portman has raised nearly $17 million and spent $5.7 million. Strickland, meanwhile, has raised $4.2 million and spent $2.2 million.
And from where, exactly, has Rob Portman’s money come? I’m sure you’ll be shocked.
His Top 5 contributors are Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Marathon Petroleum, the Votesane PAC, and Ernst & Young, according to OpenSecrets.org.
While you probably recognized the big bankers (Citigroup and Goldman Sachs) and big oil (Marathon) and maybe even one of the “Big Four” international audit firms (Ernst & Young), you might be wondering what the hell Votesane PAC is.
Well, Votesane is a new, lovely byproduct of our U.S. Supreme Court legalizing political bribery and shadow donations with its Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings. Votesane PAC is a dark money political slush fund for individual donors to hide their identities and still influence elections.
Using such gimmicks, individual contributors can make enormous donations, which lends itself to the fact that Portman’s campaign is 69 percent funded by large individual contributions (think $1k per plate dinner party fundraisers). For perspective, it’s 4 percent funded by small individual contributions and 23 percent funded by political action committee contributions.
And I’m glad that we’ve got around to PACs because outside spending it notable in this race and everybody’s favorite champions of unbridled selfishness and greed, David and Charles Koch, are right in the thick of it.
The Brothers Koch have not one but two Super PACS making it rain dirty money in Ohio’s U.S. Senatorial election.
Americans For Prosperity has spent over $1.5 million against Ted Strickland so far in the race. Yes, I say against Ted Strickland, not for Rob Portman. I say that because that’s how they’re spending it, in opposition.
But the Brothers Koch are fans of diversification. That’s why they also set up the Freedom Partners Action Fund, which has spent nearly $1.9 million against Ted Strickland.
So if you’re keeping score at home, this means that the Koch Brothers and their little instruments of anti-democracy have spent over $3.4 million in opposition to Ted Strickland in Ohio’s 2016 Senate race and it’s not even May.
The Ohio Republican Party has spent nearly $362,000 supporting Portman, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent over half a million dollars in opposition to Strickland.
They’re desperate, folks, and that’s fine. They should be desperate. Their party is a clusterfuck of ignorance and bigotry and the fat cats at the top don’t know what to do except to keep throwing good money after bad. Let them.
Let them spend all the money. But we have an obligation too. Our obligation doesn’t cost a dime. Our obligation is to bring these facts to bear in conversations over lunch with friends or at dinner with family.
Our obligation is to let everyone know that they’re still at it. They’re still trying to buy our democracy out from under us and sell it off to their criminal friends at the corner of Wall Street and K. All we have to do is call them out on it.
All we have to do is show up to vote, and bring a friend when we do, and vote our conscience, and let Charles and David Koch and the rest of the screwheads know that they can take all of their money and all of their power and all of their influence and they can go fk themselves.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.