The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tony Coelho: the Dem Tom DeLay?

Not a name I'd heard of - tipped off by chance by a stray Washington Times Abramoff piece.

The Cliff Notes version provided here dates the GOP's push for a money-gathering structure to its post-Watergate dive in support in the 1974 Congressional elections:
Two conditions were important to the new push: (1) conservative and business fears that the Democrats were about to embark on a new round of liberal economic and social policies, and (2) GOP fears of permanent minority status. The party's concern reached fever pitch after the Watergate hearings and President Nixon's resignation. Guy Vander Jagt, named chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1975, grasped the nature of the perceived crisis and understood that it could be turned to advantage.

Thence a boom in corporate and industry group PACs.

Skipping forward,
Stung by their loss of the presidency and control of the Senate in 1980, the Democrats decided to seek corporate PAC contributions aggressively. Rep. Tony Coelho (D Calif.) persuaded big Democratic financiers to contribute to the party's congressional fund and at the same time helped the Democrats to organize more effectively to solicit corporate PAC donations.

Both major parties and politicians within each party established "clubs" to facilitate interaction between wealthy contributors and politicians.

It cites the DLC as an example.
"Access. Access," [Coelho] told columnist Elizabeth Drew, "that's the name of the game. They meet with the leadership and with the chairmen of the committees. We don't sell legislation: we sell the opportunity to be heard."

Comparing the take between the 1984 and 1986 elections,
...Democratic challengers and candidates for open seat races greatly increased their share of contributions from corporate, trade, and "nonconnected" PACs, while maintaining their near monopoly on labor PACs. Democratic candidates' share of corporate contributions rose from only 8 percent in 1984 to 28 percent in the 1986 off-year elections.

It seems that Coelho took a starring role in Brooks Jackson's 1988 book Honest Graft, and then resigned over the acquisition of some junk bonds (officially through ill health) before becoming chairman of the Gore campaign in 1999 and then resigning (ill health again) [1].

And he dissed Kerry's 2004 campaign, too.

Such a large footprint for a guy whose existence I'd never registered before. Not the first, won't be the last...

(There's much more besides, evidently; this is merely for possible future reference.)

  1. There was also a criminal investigation into his doings as commissioner general of the United States Pavilion at the 1998 World Expo.

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