The FEC independent expenditure reporting system reveals that a political organization that calls itself the American Principles Fund is getting involved in Oregon politics in a big way. The Oregon Republicans are having a primary election next Tuesday to determine who their candidate will be to face incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley.
When I say that the American Principles Fund is getting involved in the Republican senate primary in Oregon, I don’t mean that they have large numbers of members who live in Oregon, or that they’re even sending large numbers of volunteers to Oregon to get to know the political context there in person.
No, when the American Principles Fund gets involved in politics, it’s just to write a check. But then, the people at the American Principles Fund are the kind of people who are used to writing big checks in order to get their way. Today, they wrote a check to a political consulting firm called the Wickers Group.
The Wickers Group consultants specialize in helping Republican politicians to get elected. For this particular project, however, the Wickers Group was actually being hired not to help any particular Republican candidate, but to encourage Republican senatorial candidates to fight with each other. The American Principles Fund paid the Wickers Group a check for $115,000 just for one TV commercial, attacking one Republican candidate, to benefit the others.
What does The Wickers Group know about what Republican voters in Oregon want? Maybe they hire people to make telephone calls, doing one of those political polls that always seems to interrupt families right as they set down to eat dinner. The Wickers Group consultants certainly wouldn’t have much first hand knowledge of Oregon Republican rank and file voters – because the Wickers Group doesn’t even have offices in Oregon. It’s based in Arkansas and California.
But then, that sort of separation from Oregon voters shouldn’t be much concern to the American Principles Fund. The American Principles Fund isn’t based in Oregon, either. The headquarters of the American Principles Fund is thousands of miles away, in Washington D.C., on K Street, the street that’s infamous for serving as ground zero of the corporate lobbying industry.
So, it seems that the American principles that the American Principles Fund is really representing are the principles that 1) Strangers ought to feel welcome to interfere in other people’s business, and 2) If rich people spend enough money, they can buy themselves a United States Senator from somebody else’s backyard.