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Everyday Erinyes #133

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

So, we have midterm elections coming up. And our last big Election two years ago was hacked big time, ncluding by foreign influence. And, ever since Citizens United, we’ve been seeing the huge influence of money, and particularly “dark money,” in our elections, much of it taking the form of donations through and from PACs. Now, even though states are responsible for handling their own elections, we do have a Federal Election Commission. an agency that enforces the regulations brought into being by legislation, court decisions, and executive order – an agency which was already overwhelmed during the Obama administration, and I hope no one thinks that ANY agency is going to fare any better under the present regime than it did before it.

In fact, PACs are making new loopholes, exploiting old ones, and just flat ignoring some regulatory requirements, notably deadlines. And lest anyone think it is just right-leaning PACs doing this, I’m sorry to have to say that left-leaning PACs can be just as sneaky.

Mere days after it sprang to life in a burst of paperwork, the new super PAC Red and Gold spent nearly $1 million attacking Rep. Martha McSally, a battleground GOP Senate candidate favored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But first, Red and Gold took a step to hide its tracks.

Red and Gold sent a brief note to the Federal Election Commission informing regulators that it would file monthly reports showing who financed the group. Its first disclosure “will be due on September 20,” the super PAC wrote — more than three weeks after McSally’s Arizona Republican primary is over.

It wasn’t the first super PAC to pull that trick: The scheme is part of a sharp escalation in super PACs avoiding reporting requirements and keeping voters in the dark about their funding until after key elections. Two other groups aired more than $3 million in attack ads in West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary this year and used the same method to dodge the FEC until after the May 8 vote. Overall, at least two dozen super PACs that spent millions of dollars in recent elections used loopholes to get out of revealing their donors, according to information compiled by the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog organization.  [emphasis mine]

I must point out that most of these groups ended up making their filings and revealing their donors, but – and this is the point – not until after the elections they were spending in were over. One of the ways to do this is to spend money only very close to the election, so that by the time the filings are done, the election will be over. and then, some actually didn’t file, at all. Once a super PAC has found a loophole, others tend to say “Oh, that’s cool – let’s do that.”

That’s what happened with Highway 31, the super PAC that spent more than $4 million supporting Democrat Doug Jones during the contentious Alabama special election in 2017. In an unprecedented move, Highway 31 reported debts to its vendors but no donors on its pre-election FEC report — essentially, the super PAC’s ad-makers loaned the group the funds to spotlight allegations that Republican Roy Moore had been banned from a shopping mall because he made advances toward a 14-year-old girl. It wasn’t until after Jones won that Highway 31 revealed it was largely funded by Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC run by allies of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The entities which on paper “loaned” money to Highway 31 could wind up in a bind under Federal law – or not – it might be very difficult to prosecute, and the PACs themselves are in the clear. They followed their reporting schedules. You might think that Republicans would be eager to prosecute Democrats if they could; but now a Republican PAC, Ohio First, which is pushing Jim Renacci for Senate (against Sherrod Brown), is doing the same thing. It has reported debts but no spending, and therefore, also no donors.

Both these PACs actually copycatted two competing PACs in West Virginia, one of which was funded by Democratic donors, and the other by the Senate Leadership Fund, Mitch McConnell’s super PAC. Oops.

Ohio First is one of the PACs which actually went so far as to disregard a key filing deadline, so the FEC could conceivably slap it with a $17,000 fine for that. However, as Campaign Legal Center, a group which is watching these PACs and filing complaints, points out, if such fines are imposed, the PACs will likely consider them “a small fee for keeping their donors secret.” In other words, a cost of doing business.

Alecto and Tisiphone, perhaps you could look into this. I need Megaera to address a different problem – to wit, the way that SOME white women use tears as a weapon, and how, these days, some of the most affected victims are women of color.

So, here’s Lisa Benton Cooper, a reporter (now an ex-reporter) at KSHB-TV 41 Action News. She already has a discrimination complaint against the station going, but is still employed there. She also has a Facebook page, which is set to private, viewable only by herself and friends. A couple of those friends are women colleagues at the station. On that page, she shared an article from The Guardian about a diversity conference in Sydney, Australia, written by Ruby Hamad, who is a journalist and a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales.

The article is an opinion piece, but it’s solidly backed with citations; apparently Ms. Hamad grasps the concept of research. It’s not a blanket condemnation of all whites, or all white women, or whatever. But “two white females” who saw the post and who worked at the station complained to human resources (no word on whether they were in tears at the time). Thereafter, Cooper was suspended for making “broad, unfair characterizations of white women as a group based on their race and gender.”

Learning of this, Ruby Hamad took to Twitter. Well, you can hardly blame her – by the action they took in criticizing her article, the “two females” in fact proved its point. But in the process, it was Lisa Benson Cooper who was hurt. Megaera, I don’t know what you’ll have to do to get the point across – but you Erinyes are very good at doing that. If you have to get the point across to every white woman in the world – well, every one who – weaponizes tears; some of us don’t – you will certainly need reinforcements. We’ve seen a lot of it lately – Barbeque Becky comes to mind, but she’s far from the only one. Good luck.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.

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Everyday Erinyes #133

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