Thursday, November 10, 2011

Corporate money wasn't enough to save Scott

When voters in Genesee County’s 51st state House District fired Paul Scott Tuesday for cutting education funding and other political crimes they defeated a huge right-wing money machine intent on grinding down public schools.  Into the maw of the education shredder was fed more than $100,000 in support of Scott —maybe lots more when the final tally comes in.  

Conservative education diva Michelle Rhee and the thoroughly rejected DeVos clan rightly saw Scott as their champion in the Legislature and spared no expense in their failed effort to save him from voters’ wrath.  Eclectablog detailed their big bucks handiwork on Election Day.

I wanted to dig a little more into the recall money story, particularly the role the 1% played.  Since Scott’s defeat Tuesday, Republican talking points indicate that the election was bought by teachers, or “special interests” in their message frame.  The corporate media hasn’t been much better, at least in the run-up to the election.  The Free Press mentioned Scott being supported by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.  But the chamber has to get the campaign cash from somewhere. So who were the corporations behind the chamber’s spending on behalf of Scott?  Again, Eclectablog has details on many of them, but one in particular received less notice and stands out: Meijer.  

Meijer inc. pumped $25,000 into a Michigan Chamber of Commerce political action committee and another $25,000 into a front group for the DeVos clan’s right-wing education privatization crusade, the Great Lakes Education Project.   Both the chamber and GLEP PACs then spent money in support of Scott. Meijer isn’t alone among corporate interests whose money found their way into the Scott recall election, but they are the biggest corporate financial backers I’ve discovered by far. 

Other corporate money linked to the recall election in support of Scott include:  Jackson National Life Insurance ($10,000), Two Men & A Truck ($5,000), Amway Global ($5,000), Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn law firm ($2,500), First National Bank in Kalamazoo ($1,000), Kar’s Nuts ($1,000),  Granger Construction Company ($1,000) and West Shore Bank ($1,000).  All gave to the chamber’s political action committee. Moreover, the Realtors PAC ($10,250), Blue Cross Blue Shield ($2,500), Michigan Beer and Wine wholesalers ($2,750) and AT&T ($1,000) all gave money directly to Scott’s campaign.   

All told, more than $150,000 from corporations, corporate PACs, CEOs or their families ended up funding, directly or indirectly, the failed campaign to save Scott.  And, of course, the CEO in Chief—Gov. Rick Snyder—put his political capital and political cash on the line.  Besides campaigning for Scott, the One Tough Nerd PAC gave the Scott campaign $2,124. 

So why would the 1% spend so heavily to keep one politician from being fired by voters?   I think it’s about greed and fear.   These CEOs got a $1.8 billion tax cut from the likes of Paul Scott.   The fear:  recalling Scott could mean that corporate greed is no longer good with voters--especially if it means their kids end up with schools that suck because of budget cuts.
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