Okay, okay. You don’t believe this headline, do you? (I don’t either.) But this is what Newt Gingrich, the discredited former GOP House Speaker, wants you to believe.
Yesterday, Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future sent a letter to Virginia gubernatorial candidates Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds seeking their support for Gingrich’s effort to defeat the American Clean Energy & Security Act of 2009, better know as the Cap and Trade bill. The bill, which was authored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee and may come to the full House floor as early as next week.
In this letter, American Solutions describes the bill as a “new and complex national energy tax system” which would “dramatically raise taxes on every single citizen of Virginia and kill Virginia jobs.”
Cue the scary music please.
Of course lots of people support the bill, including former Vice President Al Gore, who said when it passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee in May:
“The bill represents a crucial step forward in addressing the global climate crisis, the need for millions of new green jobs to end the recession, and the national security threats that have long been linked to our growing dependence on foreign oil and other fossil fuels.”
For his part, Gingrich claims that American Solutions isn’t affiliated with GOP, but is “tri-partisan” in that it is made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents. (That’s right, Gingrich expects you to believe his organization — he’s the General Chairman of American Solutions — isn’t a GOP front group.)
American Solution is a 527 organization under the Internal Revenue Code, so finding out information about donors is relatively easy. Just go to IRS.gov and go to this search form. Once there, click on the box marked “Form 8872” and enter this employer identification number: “20-5457079” and search from “10-6-2006” to whatever today’s date is. That will take you to PDFs of all American Solutions’ filings at the IRS regarding their donations and expenditures.
One little tidbit I found interesting in their financial filings is that just like the budgets Gingrich passed during his speakerships, they run a big budget deficit at American Solutions. According to their 2008 end of year report, American Solutions raised $997,641 and spent $1,402,398.
The folks at Think Progress did a bit more digging into just who is donating to Gingrich’s outfit. Donors include a number of GOP supporters. Among them are:
- Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company, and its top lobbyist Frederick Palmer. (Peabody is also a financial backer of Bill Howell, GOP Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.) They’ve given Gingrich $275,000.
- Sheldon Adelson, a casino king and the 3rd richest man in the U.S. He gave Gingrich $3 million. He’s also a Bush Pioneer who donates regularly to other right wing groups, including Freedom Watch, a group run by former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
- Carl Lindner, a banana mogul behind Chiquita Brands. Lindner led Chiquita’s efforts to illegally finance terrorist organizations in Colombia. Also a Bush Pioneer, Lindner gave Gingrich $650,000.
- George Argyros, a real estate investor and former owner of the Seattle Mariners. Argyros reached a settlement in 2000 with the California Attorney General’s office to pay his former apartment tenants $1.1 million in security deposits he illegally withheld. Despite this, the President George W. Bush nominated him to be Ambassador to Spain and why not? Argyros raised $30 million for Bush’s 2000 campaign. He gave Gingrich $25,000.
Don’t get me wrong, under the law, these wealthy interests have made these political contributions in a manner that is completely legal. I don’t like that they have more influence than I do, but it’s in complete compliance with the law.
The problem I have is with American Solutions pretending to be anything other than what it is — a front group for the Republican Party and the interests the GOP represents. I’d love to see who these Democratic donors are which Gingrich has attracted. (Remember, Gingrich was the keynote speaker at a recent Washington, D.C. fundraising dinner for the Republican Party. At the dinner, Gingrich claimed President Obama had “already failed.” “Tri-partisan”, my ass.)
But I digress.
What I want to know is why Gingrich and his right wing cabal care who the next Governor of Virginia is? Regardless of who wins, neither Bob McDonnell nor Creigh Deeds will influence the outcome of what the Congress does with this legislation.
One thing they did indicate to the Washington Post yesterday was that they will be buying advertising meant to influence the outcome of the election. According to the Post, “an advertising blitz” begins next week.
Gee, I wonder whose side they will be supporting? If I had to guess, I’m banking it’s not Democrat Creigh Deeds, whose most ranking in the Virginia General Assembly from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters is 89 out of 100. (Only one senator out of 40 was ranked higher than Deeds.)
My bet is Newt and the gang will back right wing Republican Bob McDonnell, who, when he last served in Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2005, was given a ranking of 13 out of 100.
We shall see.