As if you haven’t already read enough about how money is influencing this year’s election in ways never seen before thanks to Citizens’ United, recently legendary Republican strategist Roger Stone made an allegation that takes things to a whole new level.
Stone claims that unnamed “sources” tell him the Koch brothers lobbied the Romney campaign hard to pick Paul Ryan as his running mate, and that they sealed the deal at a July 22 fundraiser with Romney, where David Koch pledged an additional $100 million in support to SuperPACs and C-4s (another type of political non-profit for influencing elections) in exchange for picking Ryan.
Stone claims that David Koch’s “wife Julia had been quietly lobbying for Ryan,” but the brothers had already been one of Ryan’s biggest donors in his Congressional races, and they’re his single biggest donor from the energy industry.
It doesn’t take much to imagine why the Kochs would want Ryan on the bill: The Kochs already have ties to Wisconsin, having funded governor Scott Walker’s successful anti-union fight there last year; and Ryan has already become a champion for top-heavy economic policies that would make them truckloads of cash, like eliminating capital gains tax, for instance.
Ryan is also thought to be far better loved by the conservative base than Romney himself. If the Kochs can take credit for Ryan’s pick with a $100M offer, and Ryan can take credit for delivering Romney the White House, the Kochs will exert an incredible amount of leverage over the new administration.
Granted, if Romney made a secret deal with the Kochs to choose Ryan in exchange for $100 million, it would expressly violate federal election laws. But here’s the rub: They could never get caught.
How could anyone prove that a secret word or surreptitious handshake prompted the Romney team to pick Ryan? They could just say it was a coincidence. Crazier, thanks to the anonymous donations made possible through Citizens United, no one will even know where the hundred million dollars flowing into these SuperPACs and C-4s came from.
Stone also doesn’t name his sources, so it’s possible this could all be hearsay. But Stone is regarded as a top Republican strategist and has consulted with Nixon, Reagan, and Bushes 1 and 2. He’s highly connected and generally respected. So while he doesn’t name his sources, I’m inclined to think smoke usually indicates fire.
Which is why, more than any other single reason, Obama needs to win in November. Not because America will look drastically different under a president Romney than it does under President Obama—it probably won’t. An obstructionist Congress that intentionally blocks significant change will probably continue. But if Romney wins it’ll be a proof of concept—it will legitimize Citizens United and validate the need to flood future elections with untold billions in order to influence the landscape of elections.
If Romney out-raises Obama and still loses, at least maybe the monied interests on both sides will think twice about trying to buy elections with their billions next time around.