Friday, June 01, 2012

We Are The 1%: Mitt's Megadonors

R-money, dawg!
Billionaire business owners are rich (duh).

Billionaire business owners didn’t get to be rich by throwing millions of dollars away.  They invest; they do not donate. 

When they throw a million dollars to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, they are not doing it solely from the kindness of their own heart.  They are making a purchase.  They seek to buy power, to buy access to the people who make the laws, and they want to make sure that the person signing all the laws in 2013 is the type of person who will only sign laws favorable to them. 

This is why it is so revealing when a billionaire business owner heavily bankrolls a political action committee.  By figuring out who the donors are and what their motivations are, we can deduce what kind of policies Mitt Romney will be an advocate for.

Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone does excellent work putting together a list of 16 megadonors (defined as a donor who has thrown at least a million bones Mitt’s way), and he has ascribed motivations for each one.  So what do these old white dudes want anyways?  I have summarized Dickinson's list as follows (name – occupation or corporation – what the donor wants from government):

Warriors for the upper class:

  • Edward Conard – Wall Street hedge fund guy – continuing the favorable tax policy for rich people
  • Julian Robertson Jr. – Wall Street hedge fund guy - continuing the favorable tax policy for rich people
  • Robert Mercer – Wall Street guy (non-hedge fund) - continuing the favorable tax policy for rich people
  • Paul Singer – Wall Street hedge fund guy – continuing the favorable tax policy for rich people

Dodd-Frank killers:

  • John Paulson – Wall Street hedge fund guy – weaker banking regulations
  • Kenneth Griffin – Wall Street hedge fund guy – weaker banking regulations / access


  • William Koch – Oxbow Carbon – fewer environmental regulations
  • Harold Simmons – Contran – fewer environmental regulations
  • Steven Webster – Oil and gas guy – pro-drilling policies

Consumer exploiters:

  • Frank VanderSloot – Melaleuca Inc. (pyramid scheme cleaning supplies) – weaker consumer protections / anti-gay policies
  • Steven Lund – Nu Skin Enterprises (pyramid scheme cosmetics) – weaker consumer protections
  • Bob Perry – Perry Homes – caps on jury awards

Quid pro quo:

  • L. Francis Rooney III – Rooney Holdings (construction) – access / patronage
  • Jim Davis – New Balance Shoes – lucrative defense contract

Family friends / fellow New England Mormons born into privelege:

  • Richard Marriott – Marriott Hotels – immigration reform
  • J. Willard Marriott Jr. – Marriott Hotels – immigration reform

You can bet that a Romney administration would share the policy ideas of these donors from the 1%, and those policies would do the following things: cut taxes for the rich, kill off what little banking oversight remains in this country, remove environmental protections, and neuter the Consumer Protection Bureau.  (Maybe there would be room for immigration reform, and maybe not.) 

Not only do these people fund Romney’s campaign, these are the rich people that Romney hangs out with.  These are the friends who own NASCAR teams, private jets and multiple estates.  This is the social group from which Romney derives his worldview, a bleak screw-everything-but-the-bottom-line worldview in which greed is great and capital is king.  Romney was born into this social group and has lived there all his life.  His money is tied to investments with these people (he has at least a million dollars invested with Paul Singer).  He is named after the father of the two Marriott brothers, whose massive New England estate his family “summered” at when he was but a mite of a Mitt. 

These megadonors would not be investing so heavily if there was no big payday somewhere in the future for them.  What the billionaire business owners see in Mitt Romney is a man who will weaken government to the benefit of billionaire business owners.  Their self-serving desires are not good for the country as a whole, but their voices are the loudest (because money is speech and therefore a million dollars is like a speech with a megaphone).  But even if they weren't the loudest, Mitt would still be their man.  He comes from them.  He is of them.  He is just like them, except maybe a little bit younger and more good-looking.  That’s apparently worth a million or two.   

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