Nancy Pelosi, dark money, and the embarrassing hypocrisy of the Center for American Progress
The optics were absolutely awful, and that’s what made it perfect.
The Center for American Progress has launched a crusade against the corroding influence of dark money in politics and so … CAP invited the biggest dark-money Democrat to an anticorruption, pro-voter summit. The progressive powerhouse invited House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to speak early Monday morning.
It was billed as a discussion with the “key congresspersons who are leading the fight to restructure the rules of democracy in order to rebalance power for the people.” But Pelosi is more than happy with the current balance of power. Go check the Federal Election Commission reports.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Pelosi absolutely loves that PAC money. Between 1989 and 2019, the Democratic leader has racked up more than $7 million from the political action committees.
Don’t hate the partisan player, some might respond, hate the current political incentives. And they would be right. The system rewards this kind of fundraising these days. Legislation alone isn’t enough to leave a legacy. That requires a bundle of cash, and Pelosi has shown she is good for the money.
That ugly fact of politics doesn’t lessen the embarrassment though. Three weeks before giving Pelosi the podium, CAP called on Democrats to reject PAC money.
“While discouraging, the public’s outlook on our democracy provides Democrats with a golden opportunity,” CAP wrote in a June 28 press release. “There is an important way in which Democrats can demonstrate that they aren’t corrupted by the corporate special interests who voters believe are running Washington: Stop taking their money.”
CAP wants future Democratic candidates to be like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, who the liberal group praises for rejecting “corporate special interest money.” Maybe it is a worthy goal. It would be a lot more persuasive though if CAP practiced what they preached.
While CAP doesn’t want candidates to take corporate money, they were more than happy to fill their own coffers with it. Released in 2013, the progressive goliath released a donor list that read like the New York Stock Exchange. They took money from Google and Walmart and Goldman Sachs. They cashed checks from T-Mobile and General Electric, Toyota and Visa. They filled their coffers with K Street dollars.
With a history like that, it is no surprise that CAP invited a dark money politician like Pelosi to be their speaker.
Pelosi Leads List Of Conflict Of Interest Dems
As Democrats demonize Wall Street CEOs as the “greedy” fiends of the financial crisis, they’ve lined their own pockets — both before and after the crisis. Nancy Pelosi’s just the latest example.
The former House speaker allegedly gamed financial reforms to boost her personal stock portfolio. The brewing scandal is complicated, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
After a Pelosi staffer left to lobby on behalf of credit-card giant Visa, Pelosi delayed bringing to the House floor a bill to end lucrative “swipe fees” for Visa and other credit providers.
The bill couldn’t have come at a worse time for Visa. It planned to launch an $18 billion public stock offering, so stalling Hill action became a priority. The San Francisco-based company curried favor with Pelosi by pumping cash into her re-election efforts, earning its CEO a rare one-on-one meeting with the speaker.
At the same time, Visa offered her husband a VIP cut of the IPO. Paul Pelosi jumped at the offer, buying 5,000 shares at the $44 initial price. In a couple of days, the shares soared to $64. Pelosi later bought 15,000 more, raising the total value of his investment to about $5 million. In the end, the legislation Visa fought starting in 2007 was forestalled two full years.
Publicly, Nancy Pelosi has been a frequent critic of the financial industry. The commission she impaneled in 2009 to investigate the root causes of the crisis summarily indicted Wall Street honchos, while exonerating guilty Democrats, including several who had their hands in the subprime pot.