According to a disclosure document obtained by The Intercept, Susan McCue — Sen. Harry Reid’s chief of staff from 1999–2006 and now co-founder and president of Senate Majority PAC, which claims to “fight to elect Democratic senators who will put working Americans ahead of the Kochs and their corporate interests” — has also consulted for numerous corporate clients. (McCue’s central role in the creation of Senate Majority PAC was first reported by the Huffington Post.)
McCue, through her public affairs company Message Global LLC, provided consulting services for the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Gaming Association, the National Business Aviation Association, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and Walmart, among other clients. None of these clients are mentioned anywhere on the Message Global website, which instead highlights its work for Bono’s One campaign and Humanity United. (Humanity United was established by Pam and Pierre Omidyar; Pierre Omidyar is founder of The Intercept’s parent company First Look Media.)
McCue’s corporate clients are among the most politically active lobbying interests inside the Beltway. The Motion Picture Association of America has pushed hard for new copyright-related legislation such as the notorious Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has been engaged in a pitched battle in opposition to so-called “net neutrality” regulations. And Walmart is known for its engagement on an enormous range of issues including its successful effort to kill the Employee Free Choice Act, a top priority of labor which would have made union organizing easier.
In the Citizens United era, Beltway operators like McCue are ubiquitous, simultaneously raising unlimited quantities of cash for Super PACs like Senate Majority and helping corporate interests pressure the government to enact their preferred policies. Corporate representatives and professional influence peddlers control most of the Republican-oriented Super PAC and dark money campaign entities. In the 2014 midterm elections the GOP cruised to victory in large part due to the spending by loosely-regulated campaign vehicles such as Crossroads G.P.S. and American Crossroads. As the Huffington Post noted, Crossroads G.P.S. leadership includes Mike Duncan, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who now simultaneously leads a major arm of the coal, utility and railroad industry lobby. Sally Vastola, another G.P.S. board member, is a lobbyist for Sallie Mae, among other clients.
Such relationships demonstrate the degree to which the policymaking and political system has become a club for a small number of elites — akin to what Thomas Jefferson warned of in 1825 shortly before his death: “a single and splendid government of an Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations … riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry.” Lobbyists get politicians elected; politicians then appoint lobbyists to run their congressional and committee affairs; and finally, politicians retire and are paid millions of dollars to become lobbyists.
Photo: “Elle Magazine and Gucci Celebrating 10 Washington Luminaries at Villa Firenze” by Tony Powell used under CC by/Cropped from original.