Theatre Kids

By Jesse Crall

Let’s begin with a list of contributions made to a certain source by various Democratic Leadership PACs in 2018, courtesy of Open Secrets. I highlighted some of the more interesting ones in case you want to skim quickly. I’ll let you know the landing spot of these donations below:

$10,000 from A New Direction PAC, headed by New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen

$1,000 from All America PAC, headed by former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh

$5,000 from America Works PAC, headed by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown

$7,000 from American Possibilities, headed by now-President Joe Biden

$7,500 from Blue Hen PAC, headed by Delaware Senator Chris Coons

$10,000 from Common Ground PAC, headed by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine

$10,000 from Common Sense Colorado, headed by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett

$10,000 from Dakota Prairie PAC, headed by former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp

$10,000 from Empire PAC, headed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

$10,000 from Fearless for the People, headed by now-Vice President Kamala Harris

$10,000 from First State PAC, headed by Delaware Senator Tom Carper

$10,000 from Follow the North Star Fund, headed by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar

$10,000 from Forward Together PAC, headed by Virginia Senator Mark Warner

$10,000 from Fund for the Majority, headed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein

$10,000 from Getting Stuff Done PAC, headed by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema

$5,200 from Granite Values, headed by New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan

$10,000 from Great Lakes PAC, headed by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow

$7,500 from Green Mountain PAC, headed by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy

$10,000 from Hawaii PAC, headed by Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz

$10,000 from Holding onto Oregon’s Priorities, headed by Oregon Senator Rob Wyden

$10,000 from Hoosiers First PAC, headed by former Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly

$10,000 from Impact, headed by New York Senator & now-Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

$10,000 from Keystone America PAC, headed by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey

$2,500 from LEGPAC, headed by Maryland Senator Ben Cardin

$3,500 from Lobo PAC, headed by New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich

$10,000 from M-PAC, headed by Washington Senator Patty Murray

$6,500 from Make it Work, headed by Maine Senator Angus King

$10,000 from Midwest Values PAC, headed by former Minnesota Senator Al Franken

$10,000 from Missourians for Accountability & Change, headed by former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill

$7,500 from Motor City PAC, headed by Michigan Senator Gary Peters

$10,000 from Moving America Forward, headed by former Florida Senator Bill Nelson

$10,000 from MURPHPAC, headed by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy

$10,000 from Narragansett Bay PAC, headed by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed

$1,000 from National Security Democrats, headed by former New York Representative Steve Israel

$5,000 from New Millennium PAC, headed by New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez

$7,500 from Nutmeg PAC, headed by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal

$5,000 from Oceans PAC, headed by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

$10,000 from Opportunity & Renewal PAC, headed by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley

$5,000 from PAC for a Change, headed by former California Senator Barbara Boxer

$10,000 from PAC for a Level Playing Field, headed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

$10,000 from People’s Voice PAC, headed by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin

$10,000 from Prairie PAC, headed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin

$10,000 from Purpose PAC, headed by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker

$2,700 from Seeking Justice Committee, headed by former Alabama Senator Doug Jones

$2,500 from Southwest Leadership Fund, headed by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall

$10,000 from Treasure State, headed by Montana Senator Jon Tester

$2,700 from Vaquero PAC, headed by Texas Representative Filemon Vela

35 current Democratic Senators used their leadership PACs to contribute to Joe Manchin’s 2018 campaign alongside over $2.1 million from corporate PACs formed by companies including Exxon, Halliburton, BP, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Aetna, UnitedHealth, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. As Democrats caterwaul over Joe Manchin’s supposed unwillingness to advance whatever goodies exist within President Biden’s agenda, understand where their support lies. Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, a self-described “Climate Hawk,” offered the maximum $10,000 to Manchin’s campaign knowing full his positions on fossil fuels and other extractive industries. Elizabeth Warren, famed for her camera-ready lectures against the financial industry, also donated the maximum $10,000 as Manchin took well over $100,000 from commercial banks and securities and investment companies.

What we’re witnessing is a nice bit of theatre from a party well-versed in appealing to their voting base without disrupting global market flows and significant sources of financial support. Joe Biden and his allies in the House & Senate can throw in a grab-bag of helpful policies that sound good for various constituencies concerned about child poverty, climate, jobs programs and infrastructure. They market these potential policies on social media, news shows and through email chains, getting politically-engaged supporters to buy into the program. And when it comes time to deliver, well, damn, suddenly there’s a roadblock. Maybe it’s the Republicans. Maybe it’s the Supreme Court. Or maybe it’s one of these intransigent Democratic Senators who just plain refuse to play ball. 

Joe Manchin’s adopted this spoiler role in the past and continues to do so now. His next election doesn’t fall until 2024, when he’ll be a 77-year-old man worth millions. Democrats in the Senate may cry foul if he jams up their supposed priorities, stripping progressive legislation or inserting poison pills that benefit limited power sources. But we know where the money comes from. The Senate Majority PAC raised over $160 million for the 2018 midterm elections, counting among their 7-figure donors: Michael Bloomberg, Donald Sussman, Reid Hoffman, James Simons, the Soros Family, Haim Saban and Dustin Moskovitz. The PAC spent almost $12 million on Manchin’s election alone.

While Democrats decry Citizens United and claim that SuperPACs such as these arose to counter Republican assaults on democracy, this kind of money provides an immense amount of access as well as payouts to consulting firms, media companies and other fundamentally unproductive receptacles for big money. Would billionaires in tech and finance make significant contributions to a party threatening their interests? Of course not. Would corporations use PAC contributions toward politicians challenging their profits and power? Seems a touch unlikely. And would politicians contribute money to colleagues actively opposed to their interests? I’m gonna guess…no.

Maybe Manchin’s interests do align with the Democratic Party leadership. Maybe he’s just the designated locus for outrage that should target a much wider swath of people and systems. Maybe Manchin’s just doing his job.

Jesse Crall

A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.

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