In his standard stump speech, Senator Bernie Sanders vows that millionaires and billionaires will no longer be able to buy elections if he wins the presidency. But what if the most venal corruptors of American democracy are not the buyers but the sellers—and their self-interested agents?
Late Sunday night, CNN reported a remarkable allegation. An anonymous Jeb Bush bundler estimated that Mike Murphy, the director of Bush’s Right to Rise, had billed the super PAC $14 million for his services—more than 10 percent of all the super PAC’s revenues. Murphy fiercely disputed the claim, and the next day CNN updated the original post with additional information.
As you read, ask yourself how you’d feel about this explanation if it were your donation at issue, especially the phrases I’ve bolded for emphasis:
Charlie Spies, the attorney and treasurer for the Bush-allied super PAC Right to Rise, said the Bush bundler's characterization was wildly inaccurate.
"That amount is wildly wrong, not even in the ballpark of what Mike's potential compensation could have been," said Spies. "We put vendor per vendor compensation caps in place to ensure that nobody made more than a certain amount of money. That amount is confidential, as is standard for most contracts; we have confidentiality provisions." Refuting the anonymous bundler's assertion, Spies added that "there is no way any so-called bundler would have any idea how much any vendor was making. The only people who would have any way of knowing that are the vendor themselves, myself as a treasurer and counselor, or our governance committee, which is a three person committee of senior donors and political leaders that was put in place to make sure that all compensation was reasonable and something donors would be comfortable with."
In other words: “How dare you accuse us of wasting money! Because of our total non-transparency, there’s no way any of our supporters can know whether we’ve used their money wisely or not!”