I’m still digesting the Politico story by Heidi Przybyla about the long-standing financial relationship between Leonard Leo and Ginni Thomas. Here is a bit it:
At the time, the Citizens United ruling was widely expected, as the court had already signaled its intentions. When it came, it upended nearly 100 years of campaign spending restrictions.
The conservative legal movement seized the moment with greater success than any other group, and the consequences have shaped American jurisprudence and politics in dramatic ways.
From those early discussions among [Leonard] Leo, [Ginni] Thomas and [Harlan] Crow would spring a billion-dollar force that has helped remake the judiciary and overturn longstanding legal precedents on abortion, affirmative action and many other issues. It funded legal scholars to devise theories to challenge liberal precedents, helped to elect state attorneys general willing to apply those theories and launched lavish campaigns for conservative judicial nominees who would cite those theories in their rulings from the bench.
The movement’s triumphs are now visible but its engine remains hidden: A billion-dollar network of groups, most of which are registered as tax-exempt charities or social welfare organizations. Taking advantage of gaps in disclosure laws, they shield the identities of most of their donors and some of the recipients of the funds. Among those who’ve been paid by the groups are leading thinkers and individuals with close personal ties to Leo — including a whopping $7 million to a group run by a close friend and his wife. They also include a for-profit business for which Leo himself is chairman and which received tens of millions of dollars from his nonprofit network.
Leo’s role as the central figure in this movement has long been known, culminating in his acquisition last year of what many believe to be the largest political donation in history. Few are aware of the extent to which the movement’s baby steps were taken in concert with Ginni Thomas.
That’s the intro. From there it goes deeper into how Ginni Thomas fits into this. There are many connections between Leonard Leo (and his money), Ginni Thomas, and business before the Supreme Court. Dark money groups funded by Leo, Crow, and other associates appear to have been shovelling a considerable amount of money at Ginni Thomas over the years. Because of lax disclosure laws there is no way to know how much money the Thomases have gotten from these groups, or when, or what was expected of them in return. But it appears that Clarence Thomas might as well be on Leonard Leo’s payroll.
And speaking of malefactors of great wealth, do read Eugene Robinson, Elon Musk shouldn’t be calling the shots on how Ukraine fights (no paywall). Musk, who owns the Starlink satellite internet system on which Ukraine has depended. And he’s been imposing his own judgments about what Ukraine ought not be doing by withholding the service at critical moments. And he’s done this more than once, often after having conversations with Russian officials, including Putin himself. There are no words to describe how wrong this is.
Robinson writes, “an impulsive billionaire, unsure of whether he wants to be a superhero or a Bond villain, should not have been in a position to make that call. No private citizen should be making such unilateral decisions about our national security.” The Pentagon needs to step in and put a stop to this, somehow. Robinson continues,
Of course, to launch our government-owned satellites, we’ll probably need the reusable rockets developed by SpaceX or those made by Blue Origin (a private company owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Post). Putting men on the moon was an epic national quest, in which we were all invested. Landing humans on Mars is being outsourced to the billionaires.
How to deal with the gravest threat to peace and security in Europe since the end of World War II should be a matter for our elected officials. No one elected Elon Musk.
In other news: Kevin McCarthy has launched an official “impeachment inquiry” in the House, so that the House Freedom Caucus members can pretend to be investigating President Biden and maybe get interviewed on Fox News.