June 11, 2014

Eric Cantor’s Opponent Beat Him By Calling Out GOP Corruption

brat“All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.”

That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night.

The national media is buzzing about Brat’s victory, but for all of the wrong reasons.

Did the Tea Party swoop in and help Brat, as many in the Democratic Party are suggesting? Actually, the Wall Street Journal reports no major Tea Party or anti-establishment GOP group spent funds to defeat Cantor. Did Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, lose because of his religion, as some have suggested? There’s no evidence so far of anti-Semitism during the campaign. Was Cantor caught flatfooted? Nope; Cantor’s campaign spent close to $1 million on the race and several outside advocacy groups, including the National Rifle Association, the National Realtors Association and the American Chemistry Council (a chemical industry lobbying association) came in and poured money into the district to defeat Brat. The New York Times claims that Brat focused his campaign primarily on immigration reform. Brat certainly made immigration a visible topic in his race, but Republic Report listened to several hours of Brat stump speeches and radio appearances, and that issue came up far less than what Brat called the main problem in government: corruption and cronyism.

Brat told Internet radio host Flint Engelman that the “number one plank” in his campaign is “free markets.” Brat went on to explain, “Eric Cantor and the Republican leadership do not know what a free market is at all, and the clearest evidence of that is the financial crisis … When I say free markets, I mean no favoritism to K Street lobbyists.” Banks like Goldman Sachs were not fined for their role in the financial crisis — rather, they were rewarded with bailouts, Brat has said.

Brat, who has identified with maverick GOP lawmakers like Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, spent much of the campaign slamming both parties for being in the pocket of “Wall Street crooks” and D.C. insiders. The folks who caused the financial crisis, Brat says, “went onto Obama’s rolodex, the Republican leadership, Eric’s rolodex.”

During several campaign appearances, Brat says what upset him the most about Cantor was his role in gutting the last attempt at congressional ethics reform. “If you want to find out the smoking gun in this campaign,” Brat told Engelman, “just go Google and type the STOCK Act and CNN and Eric Cantor.” (On Twitter, Brat has praised the conservative author Peter Schweizer, whose work on congressional corruption forced lawmakers into action on the STOCK Act.)

The STOCK Act, a bill to crack down on insider trading, was significantly watered down by Cantor in early 2012. The lawmaker took out provisions that would have forced Wall Street “political intelligence” firms to register as traditional lobbyists would, and removed a section of the bill to empower prosecutors to go after public officials who illegally trade on insider knowledge. And Brat may be right to charge that Cantor’s moves on the STOCK Act were motivated by self interest. Cantor played a leading role in blocking legislation to fix the foreclosure crisis while his wife and his stock portfolio were deeply invested in mortgage banks.

Most self-described Tea Party Republicans, including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have railed against Washington in a general sense without calling out the powerful — often Republican-leaning — groups that wield the most power.

Not Brat.

“Eric is running on Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable principles,” Brat told a town hall audience, later clarifying that he meant the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying trade group in the country. He also called out the American Chemistry Council for funding ads in his race with Cantor, telling a radio host that his opponent had asked his “crony capitalist friends to run more ads.” Brat repeats his mantra: “I’m not against business. I’m against big business in bed with big government.”

Indeed, Cantor has been a close ally to top lobbyists and the financial industry. “Many lobbyists on K Street whose clients include major financial institutions consider Cantor a go to member in leadership on policy debates, including overhauling the mortgage finance market, extending the government backstop for terrorism insurance, how Wall Street should be taxed and flood insurance,” noted Politico following Cantor’s loss last night. In 2011, Cantor was caught on video promising a group of commodity speculators that he would roll back regulations on their industry. 

There are many lessons to be learned from the Cantor-Brat race. For one, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that not only did Cantor easily out raise and outspend Brat by over $5 million to around $200,000 in campaign funds, but burned through a significant amount on lavish travel and entertainment instead of election advocacy. Federal Election Commission records show Cantor’s PAC spent at least $168,637 on steakhouses, $116,668 on luxury hotels (including a $17,903 charge to the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows) and nearly a quarter million on airfare (with about $140,000 in chartered flights) — just in the last year and a half!

But on the policy issues and political ramifications of this race, it’s not easy to box Brat into a neat caricature of an anti-immigration zealot or Tea Party demagogue, or, in TIME’s hasty reporting, a “shopworn conservative boilerplate.” If Brat ascends to Congress, which is quite likely given the Republican-leaning district that he’ll run in as the GOP nominee, he may actually continue taking on powerful elites in Washington.  


  • Austerity Sucks

    “Banks like Goldman Sachs were not fined for their role in the financial crisis — rather, they were rewarded with bailouts…”

    This Brat guy doesnt sound like he knows what he is talking about. All the major banks received fines of different sorts, and one top banker at Credit Suisse even went to jail for a couple years ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-22/ex-credit-suisse-cdo-chief-sentenced-to-2-1-2-years.html ).

    Aside from substantive opposition to the STOCK Act which was a disgrace when Congress and Obama (both parties) hosed it down in a really shady weekend deal…

    It seems he is just talking out of his ass like the typical right-wingers who claim to be “against crony capitalism”. Incoherent ideas based on falsehoods that mean in the end he is just an empty suit. Once he gets to DC he is gonna play ball like the rest of them.

    • boxjob

      You’re the one who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. All the major banks were fined you say. Some on unrelated matters but no banker has ever been prosecuted for fraud incident to the 2008 financial crisis and no fine has ever been levied for the derivatives trades that brought the system down. Further when asked the Attorney General of the United States, Obama’s bag man for the deal, said that was because convicting a major bank would be bad for the economy.

      • Austerity Sucks

        Since you are too dumb to read the citation I provided in my original post, I will paste the relevant information:

        “Kareem Serageldin, the ex-global head of Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN)’s structured credit trading business, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for his part in a scheme to falsify the value of mortgage-backed bonds in 2007.”

        GLOBAL HEAD OF STRUCTURED CREDIT TRADING. Not a lowlevel banker, but a TOP banker involved in mortgage-backed bond fraud in 2007 at the height of the crisis. Pull your head out of your ass and get the facts straight.

        This doesnt mean I dont think more people shouldnt have gone to jail, especially the higher up executives who signed off on a lot of the fraud or let it happen on their watch. But facts matter.

        • macroT

          Credit Suisse…..none of the US TBTF banks. Show a meaningful (non-junior) conviction out of GS, MS, JPM, BaML, C, that’s not even including the ones that failed (Leh, BS)

  • “All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.”

    A popular movement has tapped into the anger of the Middle Class?

    It sounds like Teddy Roosevelt reborn:

    The Square Deal was President Theodore Roosevelt’s domestic program formed upon three basic ideas: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection.[1] These three demands are often referred to as the “three C’s” of Roosevelt’s Square Deal. Thus, it aimed at helping middle class citizens and involved attacking plutocracy and bad trusts while at the same time protecting business from the most extreme demands of organized labor. A progressive Republican,[2] Roosevelt believed in government action to mitigate social evils, and as president denounced “the representatives of predatory wealth” as guilty of “all forms of iniquity from the oppression of wage workers to defrauding the public.–wikipedia

    So if you live in Colorado’s fifth Senate District, please vote for Lee Mulcahy, another outsider: http://www.leemulcahy.com

    My blog: http://teapartyorg.ning.com/forum/topics/tea-partyer-takes-on-limousine-liberals-in-aspen-elites-threaten?xg_source=activity

  • The Right Fight

    Dave Brat’s campaign speeches covered 3 major topics … not just immigration (as some media folks like to claim).


  • Bill

    I think you’re projecting, Lee. Immigration was a big factor. BTW David Koch backed Cantor.

  • Smeagel4T

    I’m a left-centrist working on campaign finance reform. While I’m sure I could find plenty to disagree with this guy, there is definitely potential he might support efforts to get money out of politics. There are those in the Tea Party who are supporting getting money out of politics. They’re mostly the fewer ones who are not part of the Tea Party for political team cheering exercises.

    • Nicko Thime

      Lie down with dogs and you get fleas. Liberals empowering baggers goes beyond stupid.

      • Stingo

        A leftist dehumanizing opponents. Shock.

        Leftism is some kind of powerful religion. The death and carnage caused by collectivists is hard to miss. Mountains of evidence, mostly bone and ash. You’ll say they weren’t *true* collectivists, that we need to do it right this time, if only you can make people do what you want and if only you can get rid of your opponents…..

        And the cycle repeats.

        You guys need to chill. Quit trying to make people do stuff. Quit trying to control people’s lives. Seriously, you’re starting to freak people out.

        • Nicko Thime

          Like legislating what a woman can or can’t do?
          Telling folks who they can marry?

          Go the hell away with your idiocy.

        • Nicko Thime

          Take a few seconds, as it couldn’t take more than that, to write down the 10 greatest accomplishments of conservatism.

  • Macynra

    Mr. Brat could almost pass as a Progressive LIberal. It should be interesting to see what happens once he hits the big time in D.C. and has all of those shameless lobbyists trying to kiss his A– for a vote. LOL

    • Nicko Thime

      He couldn’t pass for a liberal if he had a dogma transplant, he’s bagger all the way.

  • Homer Greenz

    Very interesting…opposing K and Wall Streets.

  • Nicko Thime

    He lost because he is a POS, but mainly because of a 12% turnout.
    EXTREMISTS always win when voters don’t vote.

    • Rick

      But Cantor himself is an extremist.

      Seriously, that word is used far too often.

      • Nicko Thime

        Not nearly often enough.
        Obviously Cantor is not quite batshit crazy enough.

        The lower the turnout, the more extreme the result, it is the real purpose of Voter ID, to reduce the turnout so the radical rightwing agenda can be more easily advanced.

  • Art Solano

    Ironically the Republican party is upset with itself and is becoming more like what its upset about. The Tea Party is not a grass roots effort at all. it was started by big doners and business. Brat complains about what happened on Wall St, but what happened there was the result of deregulation. Regulation is a dirty word for Libertarians. I agree in that the way government has implemented many laws, they have rigged the system. Ironically the Tea Party and Progressive Wing of the Democratic party do have some things in common.

    • Chester

      Who does the big donors and business give the money to exactly? Can you provide some more information?

      The Tea Party is the very definition of a grassroots movement. There is no actual party, there are no official leaders, there are no bank accounts, there is no headquarters. There’s some groups with “Tea Party” in their name for fundraising purposes, but anybody can hang a Tea Party (or an Occupy) sign on a wall and start soliciting donations from the gullible. Some “Tea Party” groups may have sincere intent, some are scammers looking for money to skim, and a few are actually completely deceptive and working against the group they pretend to support. And not one of them is officially sanctioned by the Tea Party, because in reality there’s no such party at all.

      There is a mindset of like-minded individuals who think the government has grown too big and powerful and corrupt. The real way to “get the money out of politics” is to reduce the power of government – then there’s less to buy. The vast majority of corporate money flowing into government is spent trying to influence tax decisions and government spending decisions.

      Take those decisions out of the government’s hands by shrinking the power of government and the corporations won’t have much to shop for.

      • Art Solano


        “Conventional wisdom holds that the Tea Party movement emerged as a result of grassroots anger against the government in 2009. We’ve known for some time that the real story is more complicated. An awful lot of big money, including from the infamous Koch Industries and other corporate sources, helped fund and direct the movement. But that’s not all. A new peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Tobacco Control and funded by the National Cancer Institute, found that the Tea Party’s origin story involves another extremely troubling major character: Big Tobacco.”

        • Chester

          Alright, that link is absolutely comical. It’s part of the ongoing attempt to link all evil in the world back to the current Emmanuel Goldsteins, the Koch brothers. It answered absolutely none of the questions I brought up, like who are the leaders of the Tea Party? who in the Tea Party leadership (there is none) answers to the Koch brothers or other donors? who are the big money donors giving money too?

          That very short and silly article includes such nuggets as the fact that over twenty years ago an unnamed guy working for a tobacco company used terminology that sounded much like stuff Tea Party people say today, and he suggested that people form a group “with signage and other attention-drawing accoutrements such as lapel buttons, handouts, petitions and even costumes.”
          That is a major component of his proof that Big Tobacco funds the Tea Party?!

          Honestly, that is just an astoundingly dopey article to cite. There is no Tea Party organization or leadership. That is a fact. It’s a grassroots organization through and through. You can provide no proof otherwise, outside the bleating, evidence free screeds on leftwing websites.

          • Art Solano

            This is one of the studies many articles have cited for evidence. The below link describes how they obtained the evidence to connecting the Koch brothers to the Tea Party creation.


            There are elements within the Tea Party that are grass roots, where its completely funded and participated at a local level, however. But the evidence is clear, that it was not founded this way at all.

          • Chester

            Alright, I wasted my time reading that study. Despite all it’s footnotes and citations, at no point did that document ever establish any connection whatsoever between the Tea Party and big tobacco or the Koch brothers. It establishes that some people who years ago did work for tobacco companies are now involved in AFP and FreedomWorks. And then it just declares out of thin air that those organizations are “linked” to the Tea Party. Those organizations are not the Tea Party and the fact that they share some ideas doesn’t make them connected. Using that logic, NBC and the NAACP are tools of the Democratic Party.

            I’ll ask again for the third time. Who are the leaders of the Tea Party that Big Tobacco or the Koch Brothers gives money to? You should be able to tell me who is in charge of the Tea Party. Where is their headquarters? Where are their bank accounts? You need to have an organization before that organization is corrupted by money. Nobody runs the Tea Party, so nobody can take bribes for the Tea Party. The Koch Brothers/Big Tobacco connection is a complete fabrication intentionally created to give people some lame way of deflecting attention from a truly grassroots movement because there is no counterpart on the left. The links you keep providing have yet to show a single real bit of evidence.

            I’ve been to Tea Party rallys. I know hundreds of people online and in person who have been to Tea Party events. Nobody has ever paid them to show up, nobody has ever bussed them there. Nobody tells them what to say or feel or believe on the issues. They just share a common set of principles and ideas on how government has grown far too powerful. They learn about events from other people on the internet, make their own signs, and transport themselves to these events. It’s not like leftist events where the AFL-CIO rents the buses, prints the signs and pays people to attend. That’s astroturfing.

          • Art Solano

            Sorry you wasted your time reading it. How the Tea Party started and where it is, are two different things. The movement has grown since the inception, and I believe your first hand account of things.


            Americans for Prosperity, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks are some of the organizations that seeded the grass and continue to fertilize it.

            “The two main organizations identified in the UCSF Quarterback study are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. Both groups are now “supporting the tobacco companies’ political agenda by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.” Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity were once a single organization calledCitizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). CSE was founded in 1984 by the infamous Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch, and received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.”


      • Art Solano

        I believe the problem with Government is Big Business. If you reduce the power of government, what fills that vacuum? More Big Business.

        I believe a somewhat free market economy works when consumers are educated and make choices based on that. Every purchase they make is a vote. I don’t believe there is a free market in existence today. I don’t believe any society is able to be the stewards of a totally free market economy without any kind of regulation.

        • Chester

          I recognize and agree with the need for some regulation. But that regulation has to be level and based on sound reasoning. Much of today’s regulation is punitive and can be undone with the right political donation to the right party.

          But outside of reasonable regulation, why does the government need the power to attempt to socially engineer society via an insanely complex tax code? They need that power only so they can sell it.

          They can give those who play along tax breaks and introduce new tax code against those who resist. Without a flat or very simple tax code, the government operates as a shakedown outfit. And all the politicians are dining every night in 5-star steakhouses while they dither over who to reward and who to punish.
          Taxes are supposed to be about generating revenue for the operating expenses of government. In our country today (and for decades), it’s the main marketplace for corruption and influence.

          Nice talking to you, I have to return to my work now.

        • Tony

          “I believe the problem with Government is Big Business”
          Yes, indeed.

          When big business and banking interests (the Fed) control the government, you have fascism

  • Chester

    The Tea Party is going after GOP cronyism.

    There is no Democratic group or movement trying to do the same in their own party.

    The party that brought us Harry Reid, Jon Corzine, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Bob Torricelli, Bob Menendez, Jesse Jackson, Jesse Jackson Jr., Kathleen Sebilius, Bill Clinton, Steven Chu, Hillary Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, Charlie Rangel, Ray Nagin, (I could go on ALL day), really believes that they don’t have a problem with official corruption and cronyism.

    They have a level of denial that we’ve overcome. And it bothers them but they have no defense, so they yell racism and that makes them happy, no matter how nonsensical the charge is.

    • Art Solano

      The Progressive Wing of the Democratic party is, however they don’t have the deep pocket backing of the Koch brothers. Elizabeth Warren was a vocal critic of the 2008 meltdown before it happened. Bernie Sanders is another strong advocate.

      Also you forget about the “Occupy” movement.

      • Chester

        The Occupy movement appears to mostly concerned with getting their own cut of the government spoils.

        • Art Solano

          How is that different from the Tea Party assertion of crony capitalism? Both sides are stating the unfairness of the system. The Libertarian approach is that the government is causing the problem by regulating improperly and that they shouldn’t regulate at all. The Progressives say that if the economy is unregulated, you will get a terrible result. The problem is in how things are being regulated, not in the regulation.

          And I disagree with your categorization of the Occupy movement.


          • Chester

            Far more than regulation, the government power lies in the tax code. Our ridiculously corrupt tax code encourages money to pour into government. A 2009 study found that each additional dollar put toward lobbying translated into $6 to $20 of tax benefits. THAT is the power of government, that’s what politicians in both parties are selling. Too many on the left worry more about those buying politicians than they worry about the very fact that our government is for sale. Take away their power and you take away the corruption of that power.

            I’m going by my personal observations of the Occupy movement, after working around Zucotti Park while they were active there. All their demands seem to be about getting their slice of the spoils, free education, free housing, free pizza. They don’t want opportunities, they want stuff.

          • Art Solano

            From a libertarian perspective, the government has the power to enforce laws, protect the citizenship, and tax.

            The Occupy movement was very unorganized. I don’t recall any specific demands. Mostly they wanted to bring attention to the unfairness of the system, which the Tea Party also is doing. What you call their sides of the spoils from their perspective is a sense of social responsibilities all great and just societies have.

            Instead of concentrating on differences, it would be nice to more often get things done by building up rather than demolishing things. Both the far right and far left share in identifying similar problems. They have different ways of solving them. They could get more done by working more together by finding common ground rather than opposing each other at every step. The establishment appears to fight, but they do much the same thing.

          • Tony

            “free education”
            That is what Thomas Jefferson wanted. He founded the University of Virginia, as a free institution of education.
            Abraham Lincoln and his Government Land Grants for free schools.

          • Chester

            Yes, that was wonderful what Jefferson did. He donated time and money to build that university, and convinced other 1%ers of his day to do the same.

            At no point did he argue for laws that would allow armed agents of the government to confiscate the wealth of other men to build the university he envisioned.

          • tz

            There is a reasonably clear cut difference between structuring an economic and tax system so that the benefits go to the many rather than a few, verses Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
            It is not about the stuff in the money it is about who and how our system rewards for their effort. It is about the distribution and the egalitarianism of the distribution of wealth that is yet to be produced. Currently it looks to me like the wealth production machine channels all of its benefits only to be elites.

          • Lucretzia

            the guy is a troll. the right has soo much money that they can hire people to cruise liberal websites and post right wing talking point to make their ideas seem mainstream. they’re total scam artists.

        • Lucretzia

          yea, and the tparty crowd sure does love them some of that SS and medicare.

    • dsimon

      Are you kidding? Democrats strongly support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of big donors. Republicans won’t even vote for disclosure.
      That’s really all you need to know about where the parties stand on cronyism.

    • Agent Smith

      Be Careful what you wish for, you may receive it.

  • sepiano

    When I was in college and took a class on film, one of the things discussed was how at the extremes, the far Left starts to resemble the far Right. Dave Brat appears to be out at that point. And it is refreshing to hear a Republican that is attacking cronyism directly instead of dog-whistling faux populist poll tested slogans. Being about ideology before being about partisanship, that actually opens the door for compromises and bills where there is shared interest or agreement, and some of this does exist. However, the current Republicans (epitomized by Cantor, actually) are purely about achieving more political power via obstructing Obama, whether or not a given proposal is compatible with conservative principles.

    It would be good to take a closer look at the endowments that support the college where he teaches. Libertarian economics, Austrian economics, that sort of thing is not generally considered mainstream, so I’m suprised he actually has a teaching position. His promised statement on minimum wage will be interesting to read as well. He cited worker productivity as a relevant issue, and it is well understood that there have been large gains in worker productivity since the 1980’s, with most of the resulting profits going to the 0.1% and everyone else’s wages remaining flat. One study I heard about says IF worker productivity was the main criteria, minimum wage would now be something like $22/hr. (I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t! I’m just musing about DB’s reasoning process.)

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