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Mitch McConnell
December 5, 2014
by Spencer Santilli
Next Man Up: "Big Money Mitch"
Perhaps you’ve seen him, the Man pompously walking around Washington, after yet another re-election, with nothing but money on his mind. This Man who looks like a medical room skeleton with leathery human flesh pulled taut across the feeble bones. This is a man who, if he could cry, would most definitely wipe away his tears with crisp hundred dollar bills provided by his benefactors. This wonderful man I am talking about is Mitch McConnell, Kentucky State Senator, and the “next-Man-up” of American politics. The political landscape is full of Democratic sharks and Republican wolves, men and women hell-bent on getting their chance to shine and a nice juicy financial portfolio. Mitch McConnell is the archetype of this all too familiar, venal, Washington D.C. politician sketch. With his well-documented history of governing on the side of shadowy money deals there is no doubt that Mitch McConnell shouldn’t be running a McDonalds, yet alone the Senate Majority.

If you’ve read even a handful of articles on Can the Man, you know that we often delve into the pervasive problem of money in politics. All of us get heated, frustrated, and are often times dumbfounded at “politicians” who can openly buy their way into power with the help of corporations and private donors. McConnell began his political career in the 1960s when he was, among other things, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Gerald Ford. In 1977 McConnell was elected to be the Judge/Executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky –a position he was re-elected to in 1981. McConnell won his first senatorial race in 1984 and has been narrowly re-elected in the six elections since. After fifty years in politics and thirty years as a United States Senator there is little doubt that the connections McConnell has made are both deep and beneficial to his continued campaigns. For example, in the years between 2005 and 2010, Mitch McConnell took in an alarming amount of money related to one specific issue that has divided the country in two, the Affordable Care Act. Follow the link here to OpenSecrets to see that two of the six largest industry donors were “Health Professionals” and “Insurance.” There is little hesitation in my thought that money received from these donors helped McConnell fund his re-election campaign in a state that will greatly benefitted from the ACA.

In 2002, George W. Bush signed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act into law. The bill was an amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and worked to better regulate the financing of political campaigns. Now we can say that the law does not do nearly enough to keep money from swaying political races, but you’ll never guess who disagrees with that statement. Just kidding, it’s Mitch McConnell. At a “secret strategy” dinner hosted by notorious campaign financiers, and top ranking Can the Man villains, the Koch brothers, McConnell was recorded saying, “The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) into law in the early part of the first administration.” If there is ever a quote more in favor of naming Mitch McConnell “The Man” I’ll eat my shorts. How much more “Manlike” and controlling do you get than saying the “worst day” of your political life was when the government limited how much money you could take from corporations and private donors? McConnell was also recorded at this same dinner bemoaning the “gosh darn proposals” of minimum wage increase, student loan interest decrease and unemployment benefits—all three issues that need addressing not only in his home state of Kentucky but the country as a whole.

Thank goodness for the internet, because McConnell’s detailed financial records are on display for anyone interested enough to hunt them down. For this article I spent quite a bit of time on, where they detail the campaign finance history of American politicians. Among other things, Open Secrets documents that a staggering $27 million was received by McConnell between 2009 and 2014 in contributions. The website also takes account of the Top 5 donors as well as the Top 5 industries that have provided funds to Mitch McConnell. On the very day that a bill was to be passed to repeal subsidies to Big Oil companies, McConnell received $131,500 from big oil donors and three days later the bill failed via a filibuster. Or we can look at money received from the tobacco industry, of which McConnell is second in the senate behind Kay Hagan (D-NC), and McConnell’s seedy history stumping for cigarettes. In 1998 it was reported that Mitch McConnell helped to kill a bill that would have helped to curb youth smoking. Four months after the bill failed McConnell called the lobbyists at R.J. Reynolds (Formerly Philip Morris) and asked for $200,000 that he could, “pass to Republican Senators in elections.” However the most interesting piece of information garnered from and McConnell’s financial records is that the non-descript company Blackstone is far and away his largest single contributor.

The Blackstone Group is an American investment firm that ranks as the largest “alternative investment” firm in the world. In 2012 The Blackstone Group was reported to have net assets nearing the $30 billion mark. I could write an entire Man article about Blackstone and their unquestionably shady antics, but the crux of this argument hinges on the fact that they’ve already contributed $3 million dollars to political causes for 2014.  OpenSecrets again exposes Blackstone and the Top 5 recipients of their dirty money; number one is, of course, Mitch McConnell at $213,000. Now why, of all people, does Mitch McConnell need to receive donations from the world’s biggest investment firm? Likely because Mitch McConnell has a proven track record of, “If you give me money, I’ll do what you want.”

I’m not a hopeless optimist; I understand that most politicians are receiving some kind of money from somewhere shady. Truthfully, this is the sad reality our “democracy” has devolved into in this country. Nearly every politician, on both sides of the partisan divide, has his hands in the corporate cookie jar. For convenience sake, here is a link to the numerous politicians that the Blackstone Group gives to apart from McConnell. It is amazing that we can be so openly aware of the pervasive problem of money in politics, yet so powerless to change it because of the widely known fact that money controls our elections. There is no logical reason Mitch McConnell should have been elected to have a stake in leading the 5th poorest state in America six times over. This is the same Mitch McConnell who refuses to raise minimum wage, reduce college loan interests and scoffs at the very notion of helping the impoverished—but gladly takes millions of dollars a year from special interests that do not even impact the state in which he has been elected Senator. Nearly twenty percent of citizens in Kentucky live below the poverty line. But do not expect McConnell to express any emotion as he enjoys the $45 grand he took from minimum wage opponents in early 2014.

Mitch McConnell is not the only scumbag in Washington and sadly, he isn’t the biggest one. The fact is that McConnell represents everything wrong with American politics. He is the Man, plain and simple, set to sacrifice any semblance of a soul for the next donation. This is an elected official who, in 2014, has hindered anti-youth smoking bills, made college more expensive for students and more profitable to banks, and reaped thousands from the world’s biggest investment firm. This wax sculpture of a cretin deserves to be the janitor of an inner-city school for all he’s taken from society; not the custodian of our bought government. Mitch McConnell is not a good, decent, truthful, or responsible human being—all the things you’d think we’d value most in elected officials. Instead, Mitch McConnell is a greedy sonofabitch who has spent fifty years grooming his connections in Washington. Albeit McConnell is only one of the many figureheads in this never-ending plague of money or bought politicians, but with his new found place leading a branch of the GOP and an ever deepening pocket—Americans should be very worried what this Man has in store for the rest of us over the next several years.

-Spencer James

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