Danny Kanner, Lis Smith, Mark Giangreco, and Governor Peter Shumlin, my new best friends at the Democratic Governor’s Association, have sent met me a stream of e-mails ever since I checked the DGA website a few weeks ago. You couldn’t call our friendship really intimate, since they price it at only three dollars. This is the minimum sum they are requesting to fight off the “radical right-wing extreme of the extreme fringe groups” making war on women, gays, Barack Obama, and Terry McAuliffe.
My DGA friends express particular concern about the negative ads directed against Terry, their candidate in Virginia. This is 2013’s only competitive race since everyone knows their NJ gubernatorial candidate will be dust beneath Chris Christie’s chariot wheels. My new bud, Pete Shumlin tells me “On our side, the DGA is the only national group supporting the McAuliffe campaign and fighting the lies. We cannot let right-wing fringe groups overwhelm us…” Fortunately for Terry, Pete tells me someone named “a donor” is standing by to double my paltry three bucks.
Governor Shumlin clearly aims to create the impression that Terry is the cash-underdog in the race, but he finds me a wee bit skeptical. I just finished reading This Town, by Mark Leibovich. The Washington reporter for the New York Times Magazine mentions a $26 million DNC fundraiser at Washington’s MCI Center—“the biggest event in the history of mankind.” Terry (“The Macker” as Leibovich calls him) organized that event as DNC chair and the boast was his.
This Town includes an account of The Macker’s “frenzied elevator speech” about Green-Tech Automotive, a company which he promised would “reinvent the automobile” Leibovich continues: “Left unsaid was that he also hoped it would reinvent Terry McAuliffe as he approached another run for governor of Virginia. Green-Tech would be a vehicle for him to escape his pigeon hole as a political money man…and reposition himself as a more serious ‘Democratic businessman fighting for Democratic Causes and Creating Jobs’ as his website says.”
The DGA website is on board with the theme, telling us “Virginia’s governors race pits extreme partisan Ken Cuccinelli against Virginia businessman and former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe. A McAuliffe governorship would focus on growing jobs in the Commonwealth…” This entry has a little box attached labeled “Related News” which contains the message “No related news yet.”
I have no immediate plans to send the three dollars, but I can help Danny, Lis, Mark, and Pete fill their little box. Here’s an Aug. 2 Associated Press headline for their use: “Documents: SEC probing McAuliffe former e-car firm.” It seems that the Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed records of GreenTech Automotive and Gulf Coast Funds Management, a partner in GreenTech’s efforts to establish plants in Mississippi. The SEC is interested in their use of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) EB-5 program. This program aims to attract investments in depressed areas by granting permanent residency visas to foreigners willing to invest $500,000 or more.
The Macker is quoted as saying “I left the company in December of last year, and I don’t know anything about it.” If he had bought Leibovich’s book ($27.95) he could have been more helpful. I draw his attention to pages 149-150: “It hardly mattered that a lot of those jobs would be in Mississippi, not Virginia, because Terry was able to secure a package of tax and price incentives from Haley in order to build a 400,000-square foot facility in…Horn Lake [ Mississippi].”
“Green-Tech’s story is a monument to the power of a politically connected company. The company raised more than $100,000,000 in capital, much of it from McAuliffe’s network of political connections. Its board includes a former governor of Louisiana, and a former IRS commissioner. Hillary’s brother Anthony is an employee. Bill Clinton showed up for the Horn Lake grand opening.”
As we have seen, the DGA identifies the Macker as a Virginia businessman. This follows the entirely predictable imaging foretold in This Town: “McAuliffe is now determined to refashion himself as a Washington outsider type. This was laughable for anyone who knew him but a smart political strategy.”
Everyone knows who Bill Clinton is. He’s The Macker’s very best friend in the whole world; also well-known as a former president of the United States. But who is this Haley who made himself so useful in getting Green Tech up and running in Mississippi? That would be Haley Barbour, self-identified “drinking buddy” of The Macker, former political aide to Ronald Reagan, one-time campaign aide to G.H.W. Bush, governor of Mississippi two times, a chairman of the Republican National Committee, a former chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association and partner in the BGR Group with Ed Rogers, a lawyer in the Reagan Administration, and Lanny Griffith, Special Assistant to the President George H.W. Bush for Intergovernmental Affairs, later an Assistant Secretary of Education.
Fortune magazine named BGR as the second-most-powerful lobbying firm in America and, in 2001, after the inauguration of George W. Bush, promoted it to the most powerful. According to Leibovich some corporations pay large retainers to Haley Barbour simply to insure their rivals don’t hire him. Terry McAuliffe is unusually fortunate in his choice of drinking buddies.
My feeling is that a man who can raise $100,000,000 from his political connection to start a cutting-edge company in an industry about which he has no experience will no have trouble financing a gubernatorial campaign. On the other hand, the DGA got my attention with this line: “A radical group called “Citizens United” (yes, that Citizens United) just placed a $350,000 ad buy against our Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe.”
Looking for another dot to connect I came across a documentary produced by this radical group entitled “Fast Terry.” It gathered a bunch of clips showing fast Terry boasting about his plans, his achievements, the electric cars he’s producing, the plants he’s building interspersed with annoyed former employees of Green Tech going into detail about what they describe as a ‘show’ put on for what they thought to be investors. They also said that during their time at GreenTech, few if any cars were produced. Franklin Pellets, a wood-chip operation that McAuliffe has touted in southern Virginia, but which has yet to get off the ground also gets some attention.
I found it quite entertaining, so I donated $7.98 to the organization in return for the DVD.
So far the score is DGA: 0; Citizens United: $7.98, but I will continue to monitor the Democrats’ website. If they manage to persuade me that Paul LePage is a raving radical extremist bent on making war on women, suppressing voting rights, crushing the middle class, and devastating Maine’s environment they can look forward to my three dollars.
In the meantime I’ll be working on the design on a novel board game: “Connecting the Dots.” This could be the biggest thing since Monopoly. I wonder if Fast Terry would care to buy a 25% interest. He could make millions.
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and publisher of www.fraryhomecompanion.com and can be reached at: email@example.com
A headline in today’s Washington Post: ” McAuliffe’s GreenTech car company launched with high hopes, but reality dogs campaign”.