A story posted back in February on JH Politics about one of the leading Republican candidates for Virginia’s next Lt. Governor should have received a lot more attention than it did. The gist of it is that a “huge chunk” of Pete Snyder’s funding has come from one source – “the Ending Spending Fund, an independent Super PAC,” which has “invested $235,000 in Snyder, and this is before he’s even the Republican standard bearer.” As JH Politics points out, “It’s a dazzling sum at this stage in the race.” It also makes “Ending Spending” by far and away Snyder’s top donor, with the runner trailing by $225,000.
To put it in perspective, JH Politics compares the ginormous amount of money “Ending Spending” has poured into Snyder’s 2013 campaign with how much they spent against Tim Kaine in 2012, and finds that it’s a great deal more for Snyder. Which raises the question, “Is Pete Snyder’s election to Lieutenant Governor, a part-time position that five other viable Republicans are running for, worth $100,000 more than a United States Senate seat?” Apparently, “Ending Spending” sees having Snyder breaking ties in our State Senate as highly valuable, the only real question is “what’s in it for them, exactly?”
Who is behind “Ending Spending?” According to Open Secrets:
Ending Spending is a conservative 501(c)4 group that focuses on federal spending and the national debt. The group originally targeted earmarks, but broadened its message to include balancing the federal budget and paying down the national debt. The group was founded by Joe Ricketts, the former CEO of TD Ameritrade and a known conservative backer. Brian Baker, the current president of Ending Spending, was an adviser to former Sens. Robert Dole and Richard Shelby. The group does not disclose its donors, and its money goes towards electioneering expenses.
Also, according to Open Secrets, in the 2011-2012 cycle, “Ending Spending” had $13,250,766 in independent expenditures ($6,452,125 for Republican candidates and $6,674,460 against Democratic candidates). It all kind of gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, doesn’t it? No, I didn’t think so.
Just to give you a flavor for how slimy this group is, check this out:
On May 17, 2012, The New York Times published a story by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg reporting that The Ending Spending Action fund had been presented with a 54-page proposal entitled, “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: the Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.” According to the Times, the proposal, written by a vendor seeking to be hired by Ending Spending, suggested a $10-million ad campaign to “attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away” and called for “running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright.”
As if all that’s not bad enough, there’s this issue as well:
Virginia Republicans deserve to know whether Snyder was involved in discussions with Ending Spending PAC (which would be a violation of campaign finance law due to his position as Victory Chairman) [in 2012]. If he was involved in illegal conversations, did he ask Ending Spending to withhold money for his inevitable run? Inquiring minds want to know.
Speaking of 2012, on February 18 of that year, “Ending Spending” staff posted this endorsement of Snyder on their blog. Then, on December 26, 2012, Snyder got $235k from “Ending Spending.” Interestingly, it is unclear whether the contribution came from the “Ending Spending PAC” (a federal political action committee) or the “Ending Spending Fund” (a 501(c)4 Super PAC). But either way, my understanding is that under Virginia campaign finance law, “Ending Spending” should have to register in Virginia if they are involved in expressly advocating for a Virginia candidate. In fact, I’ve been told by a knowledgeable source that under a certain Virginia designation, they could even be forced to disclose their donors. According to this same source, Snyder is also supposed to confirm that the PAC is registered upon receipt of a contribution. From what I can tell, they have not done so. So could there be a potential technical violation of Virginia law, or an attempt – for whatever reason(s) – to cover up the real source of the money? It’s hard to say.
In sum, what we have here is a shady out-of-state group, funded by a single, reclusive, far-right-wing, anti-Obama billionaire, trying to single-handedly select our next lieutenant governor. Oh, and that potential lieutenant governor appears to be skirting Virginia campaign finance laws, if not outright violating them. I don’t know about you, but none of that makes me particularly comfortable.
P.S. Here’s some interesting reading on “Ending Spending”/Joe Ricketts’ (failed) foray into Harry Reid’s reelection.