Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
Oh, these boys won’t let me be
Lord, have mercy on me
Woe, woe is me
— Warren Zevon (as sung by Linda Ronstadt)
Poor, poor Rand Paul. People picking on him when all he’s trying to do is raise a few million bucks hook or by cr…, well, let’s just leave it at hook, so he can remain in the U.S. Senate where he vows to continue gumming up the works.
Last week I wrote a column that noted, quite accurately, that the Bowling Green Republican organized what’s been referred to as a leadership political action committee for the purpose of grabbing as many dollars as possible that he could then distribute to other, similarly disposed neanderthal candidates because, well he’s such a great guy.
Unfortunately, the folks at two non-partisan watchdog organizations in our nation’s capital, Issue One and the Campaign Legal Center, recently combined forces on a report establishing that, while our boy Rand has been quite successful in pulling in the greens, he has not been equally enthusiastic about distributing them.
Long story short, from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2020, RANDPAC, his modestly named leadership committee, had hauled in $1,064,208.40 and distributed $988,450.23.
That might seem fairly reasonable until you find that most of the disbursement went to operating expenses, with a relatively paltry $121,500, or 12 percent, doled out to similarly-minded candidates, which was the stated purpose of the leadership PAC in the first place. A significant portion of the dough, according to the report, “All Expenses Paid – Another Look at Congressional Leadership PACS’ Outlandish Spending” published by the aforementioned watchdog groups, determined that a significant portion went to fancy hotels and resorts, tasty restaurants, and golf, a lot of golf.
“…Paul made a habit of staying at luxury hotels on his leadership PAC’s tab — spending a total of $14,000 on lodging during this two-year period,” the report found. “Among the destinations were several of the top resorts in the country…”
And this: “Paul’s leadership PAC spent $2,300 for expenses associated with golf courses and country clubs. These included a $600 payment to a golf instructor, $620 for registration fees at the Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Florida, and $680 in expenditures over multiple trips to the Trump National Golf Club in northern Virginia.”
And there’s the $18,000 in Uber fees. He could have ridden to Tierra del Fuego and back on the amount he spent on car hops.
There’s much more. Read the report.
Suffice to say Sen. Paul got his feelings hurt and was not pleased with the column exposing his champagne tastes on somebody else’s tab. In response, he sent what stands as an op-ed to the Northern Kentucky Tribune, asserting, among other things, that my desire in wanting to write said column was to “twist things all the way to outright making up things and lying, just to score partisan points.”
“If you are trying to raise money for something, you have to spend money to do it,” Paul said, falling back on that saw old moneygrubber’s make. “Whether that’s the cost of fundraising staff, digital ads, direct mail letters, or, as this writer gleefully detailed, a few thousand dollars of direct expenses for events, it’s simply the nature of raising money.”
“All of the events and costs detailed in the column were for those reasons – to raise money for this committee, for other committees, or for candidates for office that I support,” he said.
So misunderstood, poor baby.
There’s a whole bunch of other hokum in this slice of boloney but I urge you to read it here: Rand Paul: Responding to Bill Straub’s column, explaining ‘fundraising’ — and watching your money, and then explain two things to me:
• Where lies the lies? He claims I lied but I don’t see any substantiation. Good luck on that.
• Where is the explanation for the real point – his spending of a lousy 12 percent of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he collected from loyal donors that, according to the rules, he’s supposed to spread like grass seed among like-minded candidates?
Folks, the info ain’t there. Instead he resorts to defending that old fundraising hooey, rather than explain why it was more important for him to lay his tush between sumptuous 500-thread count sheets at some hoi polloi resort instead of handing out the moolah to his political pals as intended.
As the RANDPAC website itself states, “Rand PAC’s mission is to fight for the Constitution on important issues and support and elect Pro-Liberty, Pro-Constitution candidates in Kentucky and across the country.”
This is not the first time our boy has been called out on this. In January 2019, Tom Loftus, longtime Frankfort Bureau Chief for the Courier-Journal of Louisville (I should note a close, personal friend and one of the greatest journalists in the Commonwealth’s long history) noted that, for the period covering Jan. 1 to Nov. 26, 2018, “Paul spent much more on travel, food and drink combined last year than he did on the original purpose for such politician PACs – to use this separate political stash to make contributions to other like-minded candidates.”
“Just 10 percent of its spending went to campaigns of other politicians. It donated just $9,500 to Republicans running in high-stakes races for the Kentucky General Assembly,” Loftus wrote.
He added, “Its many expenses at upscale restaurants last year included $9,254 at North Beach Restaurant in San Francisco; $3,346 at the Caffe Molise in Salt Lake City; and $921 at The Palm Too in New York City. Travel expenses included stays at the Balboa Bay Resort, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, the Royal Palms Resort and the Royal Horseguards Hotel.”
All lies, obviously. Just ask Rand.
According to Federal Election Commission records, dating back to Jan. 1, 2011, RANDPAC has collected total federal receipts of $9,704,384.36 and disbursed $9,615,658.84. Of the dispersal, operating costs – which include stays at luxurious hotels, greens fees at picturesque golf courses and tables at the finest steak houses – came to $7,891,621.77, or 82 percent. Contributions to other candidates on the federal or state level came to $853,370.30, or a puny 8.9 percent of total disbursements.
What a guy, huh?
Now consider this. Doug Stafford is a political strategist based in Virginia who, among other things, served as a senior advisor in Paul’s magnificent failure of a 2016 Republican presidential campaign and formerly worked as Paul’s Senate chief of staff.
Finance records for RANDPAC from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec.31, 2020, show that Stafford received $233,000 for “political strategy consulting.” During that same period, RANDPAC shelled out $121,500 to state and local candidates.
In other words, the PAC spent about $112,000 more on receiving political advice from this one dude than it made in political contributions to folks running for public office. It can’t be stressed enough, as the “All Expenses Paid” report notes, leadership PACs were created to “allow politicians to raise money and give it away to political allies and like-minded candidates, such as vulnerable colleagues or candidates running in competitive House and Senate races,” not pay off your pals with a consulting contract.
Now what is to stop Sen. Paul, who is running for re-election in 2022, from using the information he obtains from Doug Stafford, paid for by his leadership PAC, during his upcoming campaign? An arrangement like this would provide him with political advice without costing his campaign account a single dime, thus saving money for more TV ads and media events.
“…a generous interpretation of the facts suggests that Sen. Rand Paul spends more on overhead and administrative expenses to raise money for his leadership PAC than the typical member of Congress,” said Michael Beckel, research director at Issue One. “His op-ed suggests that he’s also using his leadership PAC to foot the bill for trips that raise money directly for other candidates and political groups, including the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee). But the paltry portion of leadership PAC funds that Sen. Rand Paul used for contributions to other candidates and political groups raises questions about how the rest of his PAC money is being spent.”
Beckel noted that leadership PACs “are frequently being used by lawmakers to raise money from special interests, lobbyists, and wealthy donors who want to curry access and influence in Washington, and then those funds help underwrite trips to luxurious destinations such as five-star resorts, fancy restaurants, and premier golf courses. This political fundraising cycle enables well-heeled donors to hobnob with politicians in settings that are out of reach for most Americans, while special interest-funded leadership PACs foot the bills.”
As an addendum, you might note that Paul, in his Tribune response, spends a great deal of time assuring one and all that “there is no bigger guardian of your tax dollars than me,” an issue that was never broached in the column.
If his record had been cited, I might have mentioned that the phony-baloney federal budgets he occasionally proposes would result in all of us squatting naked around a campfire, roasting potatoes on the ends of sticks. He further failed to mention that the ridiculous tax cut he supported a few years back resulted in adding about $1.9 trillion to the national debt over 10 years and he just adored his old rival, former President Donald J. Trump, who saw the debt rise by $7.8 trillion during his four years in office.
Paul concludes by saying, “I’m watchful of your tax dollars, and I use your voluntary contributions to further the causes we believe in. I’ll keep doing those things no matter how mad it makes the left.”
Well, thanks for the offer, senator. But after reviewing your record, we should just look elsewhere.