So there sat the Republican Speaker of the House on 60 Minutes, and the conversation with Scott Pelley went like this:
PELLEY: Mr. Speaker, can you bring the Tea Party in line? There are Tea Party groups that hold fundraisers under the heading of, “Let’s fire the Speaker.” They don’t think you’re very conservative.
BOEHNER: Well my voting record is as conservative as anybody here. The issue with the Tea Party isn’t one of— strategy. It’s not one of different vision. It’s— it’s a disagreement over tactics, from time to time. Frankly, a lot is being driven by national groups here in Washington who have raised money and just beating the dickens out of me.
PELLEY: Conservative groups, raising money, beating the dickens out of you.
BOEHNER: It works. They raise money, put it in their pocket, and pay themselves big salaries.
PELLEY: How many Republican parties are there?
BOEHNER: Well, there’s one. And we continue to work to bring those members along, and they bring ’em along. But it’s always a work in progress.
Then there was this interesting story. It appeared all over the place, reported at the Daily Caller this way:
Jeb Bush’s business relationship with a Miami-based businessman now in prison for fraud is receiving fresh attention as speculation grows that the former governor of Florida will run for president.
A review of the company at the center of the scheme shows that there is more than enough embarrassment to go around, including for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency that loaned millions to the company, InnoVida Holdings.
Bush first met InnoVida’s founder and CEO, Claudio Osorio, at the businessman’s mansion in 2007. Soon after, Bush, who had recently left office, signed on as a consultant for the company, a gig that paid $15,000 a month.
But InnoVida, which claimed to be in the business of manufacturing inexpensive housing out of a special composite material, was essentially a Ponzi scheme. Osorio pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in 2013 and is currently serving a twelve-and-a-half year sentence.
Former Governor Bush was unaware of the fraud, the story helpfully points out. Well, that’s good. Not mentioned is that Claudio Osorio, according to FEC records, is a serious financial contributor on the Left , donating tens of thousands of dollars to top Democrats that include President Obama, Hillary Clinton, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But actually, the real import of this story is not about some guy in Florida who is in the hoosegow. The real story here is at the heart of Speaker Boehner’s unintentionally very interesting (not to mention insulting to the base) analysis.
What the speaker is saying is that Republican operative X works for some group out there that raises its money by attacking the establishment GOP figures — then collects big bucks for doing so. There is a go-to phrase for this: for-profit Republicans.
But in fact? As that second, seemingly unrelated story about Jeb Bush illustrates in vivid fashion, there’s another group of for-profit Republicans — and their take is enormous compared to the profits made by those consultants against whom Boehner rails.
What Jeb Bush did — and again there is nothing in the least illegal about this — is use his name and connections as a former governor to rope in a lucrative consultant gig. All for Mr. Osorio. In other words, Mr. Bush actively used his influence and connections to smooth the path to federal millions for a big Democratic Party contributor — and he was paid handsomely to do so.
Which in a nutshell illustrates the problem here. Too many establishment Republicans have a vested interest in not shrinking or limiting the size of the federal government — standard GOP dogma — because in reality they lose big money if government agencies and bureaucracies are ended. Had OPIC been eliminated by the last President Bush…or any other Republican before that, there would be no federal agency about which it would be worth paying Jeb Bush fifteen grand a month to consult. As it were, the entire system in Washington revolves around this. If Speaker Boehner were truly outraged by for-profit Republicans, he would move heaven and earth to eliminate this kind of system. Instead, Boehner complains about conservative fundraising tactics. The speaker isn’t alone in ignoring the kind of behavior that Jeb Bush has so vividly illustrated, either, which is why so many at the grassroots level are so frustrated with Republicans inside Washington.
Alas there’s no point in scolding Bush for doing something that all of Washington’s lobbying complex does all day, every day, all year, every year. But this is exactly the point. John Boehner is no dummy — there is no way in the world the speaker doesn’t get the way this system of what was once a limited government has evolved to a system where the federal government has its tentacles into just about every crevice of American life. Like, say, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency designed to… well… you know. And of course heaven forbid the thought that a possible President Jeb Bush would be traveling America right now proposing getting rid of OPIC. Had that been done years ago a cool fifteen grand a month would have not been available for this particular gig.
Meanwhile, the Republicans outside the Beltway — aka the GOP base — must listen to the Speaker’s remarks and wonder if he thinks they are chumps. They may live in places like Iowa or South Carolina or New Hampshire, but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand who the real for-profit Republicans are. It isn’t some guy running some committee that criticizes John Boehner for playing a cynical game — when in fact John Boehner is playing a cynical game.
Who are the real for-profit Republicans? They are all those GOP lobbyists and or consultants who make a hefty dime off of lobbying the federal government or giving their advice on how best to get money from it. Speaker Boehner knows this. His own campaign coffers brim with money from interest groups that have to deal with this or that federal agency. Jeb Bush, now apparently running for president, also understands this system well — all too well, it seems. But neither are going to make overturning this system any kind of a priority. And it’s safe to say that when it comes to the issue of so-called “for profit Republicans”, Speaker Boehner has put a spotlight on a system that involves too many Republicans who have an entirely different definition of “for profit Republicans.” Jeb Bush, now apparently running for president, is one of them.
The game caused Jeb Bush a bad headline — but earned him a run of $15,000 a month paydays.
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