So the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has decided to put its thumb on the primary scales again (boldface mine):
The DCCC, the official campaign arm of the House Democrats, was coming off a disappointing showing in the 2016 elections, and Donald Trump’s victory had heightened the skepticism of progressive activists toward the party’s legacy institutions. Moreover, Democrats were on the cusp of a historic candidate surge. Did the embattled DCCC really want to wade into the middle of that?
Evidently, the answer is yes. On Thursday, the organization launched a low-grade nuclear attack on Laura Moser, one of four Democrats vying for the nomination to take on nine-term Republican Rep. John Culberson in Texas’ seventh congressional district. The seventh swung harder to Democrats in 2016 than any other district in the country, and it’s an important part of the party’s plans of retaking the House. The primary is a little more than a week away, and although the top two candidates still have to compete in a May runoff, the DCCC didn’t want to take any chances that Moser would be one of them.
In a statement on the DCCC website, the organization stated its case against Moser thusly: “Democratic voters need to hear that Laura Moser is not going to change Washington. She is a Washington insider, who begrudgingly moved to Houston to run for Congress.” The crux of its criticism is that Moser recently relocated to the district from Washington, DC; that her husband is on the payroll of the fundraising firm she uses, Revolution Messaging; and that she once wrote something really mean about living in a rural Texas town.
As regular readers will know, the DCCC complaining about connected consultants is the kettle calling the pot black (boldface mine):
Most of that [Moser’s] money was for ad buys, which meant that it may have gone into the bank account, but it didn’t stay there long and was instead destined for TV station or digital coffers. But setting that aside, it has long been known that Moser is married to Arun Chaudhary, a partner at Revolution Messaging, a consulting firm that is most well-known for its work on the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. As The Intercept noted, Daily Action and Revolution had a financial relationship, as well, according to public disclosures.
That the DCCC would attack a Democrat for funneling money to a campaign consultant is itself rich, given how the organization habitually steers candidates to its own consultants. Its nickname in Washington, after all, is “the consultant factory,” as so many of its operatives go on to be campaign consultants working on the party dole. James Thompson, a congressional candidate in Kansas who nearly won a 2017 special election for the seat vacated by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, told The Intercept last month that the DCCC told him flat-out “to spend a certain amount of money on consultants, and it’s their list of consultants you have to choose from.”
This was made explicit in a memo sent to candidates seeking DCCC support last December. In exchange for that support, according to the memo, candidates must “hire professional staff and consultants who can help execute a winning campaign,” and “the DCCC will provide staff resumes and a comprehensive list of consultants as well as helpful resources to the campaign including staff trainings.” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said after the 2016 elections that the DCCC “need[s] to go on a consultant detox.”
The DCCC has instead done the opposite. Relationships like Moser’s and her husband’s are easy to find in Washington. A cursory look at the leadership of the DCCC, in fact, turned up a few.
The DCCC’s independent expenditure director, for instance, is Jessica Mackler, the spouse of BluePrint Interactive partner Geoff Mackler. Federal Election Commission disclosures show that Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Moser’s opponent, retained BluePrint Interactive to help the campaign on its digital consulting work, paying the firm $7,500 in September. The firm also lists EMILY’s List, which is supporting Fletcher’s campaign, as a client.
Consultants often take a percentage of all media placement of election ads in addition to a consulting fee. That enabled consulting firm Mothership Strategies, founded by DCCC veterans, to earn $3.9 million from the failed special election campaign for Jon Ossoff in Georgia last year. Around $2.5 million of that Ossoff haul came from media buys. Mothership veterans also birthed End Citizens United, which has become something of a stalking horse for DCCC-backed candidates this cycle.
The DCCC’s new executive director, Daniel Sena, is married to Elizabeth Christie Sena. After Daniel was named executive director, Elizabeth was made a partner at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a prominent DCCC consulting firm. In the 2016 campaign cycle, the DCCC paid GQR $395,000 over two years. With Elizabeth Sena not just a partner at the firm but literally handling the DCCC account, according to her biography on the site, the firm has already pulled in $525,523 so far this campaign cycle.
But here’s the kicker–the DCCC-backed candidate, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, is hated by unions (boldface mine):
But Fletcher’s legal work for “those in need” has caused her problems in the campaign. The firm where she is a partner largely represents employers and won a major case against local janitorial workers, who were predominantly immigrants. The firm boasted, in its effort to attract future business from employers, that it won the case in part by studying the social media feeds of the jury pool to make sure the jury was stacked with Trump supporters. PJS, the firm’s client, was involved with Empower Texans, a right-wing group working to undermine organized labor in Texas.
When local unions raised the issue recently, Fletcher defended herself by saying that she did not work directly on the case, and that she does not always share the views of her clients. She also claimed to have represented workers before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The defense has not resonated with local workers. The local AFL-CIO has not endorsed in the race, but it did take the remarkable step of resolving to non-endorse Fletcher: Union members will be canvassing the district urging residents to vote for any candidate other than her.
“She’s trying to claim she’s represented women before the EEOC — but lower and middle class people can’t afford to hire an attorney every time they get screwed by their boss, that’s why they need a union,” said Ginny Stogner McDavid president of the Harris County AFL-CIO Labor Assembly.
Meanwhile, in California, the DCCC is going out of its way to depress turnout in a seat Democrats should win (boldface mine):
In the 39th district, which Hillary won by nearly 9% and where local activists forced out 24 year incumbent Ed Royce, the DCCC is rallying around lottery-winning, slumlord Gil Cisneros. Cisneros doesn’t live in the district and has no ties to the community, but he is a rich conservative “ex”-Republican— all that matters when the DCCC prioritizes lining the pockets of its revolving door consultants over winning elections.
By any measure, the 39th should be one of the most winnable seats this cycle. The district is 35% Latino and 30% Asian American. Democrats won the state Senate seat that covers the entire district for the first time in 40 years last cycle. Democrats and Republicans are basically equal in voter registration and the Cook Report rates the seat as “lean Democrat.” The key to flip the 39th will be voter turnout, which means actually running a candidate who connects to voters.
None of this matters to the DCCC. While it’s hard to imagine there are many more favorable seats across the country, the DCCC is willing to throw away one of the 24 it needs.
Why? Cisneros and his wife have donated nearly $150,000 since 2013 to California Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. One member of the Hispanic Caucus has a family foundation that Cisneros has donated tens of thousands of dollars to in just the past 3 years. Cisneros alone has given $16,000 in the past 3 cycles to the California Democratic Party and this cycle he and his wife have given $10,000 to the Democratic Party of Orange County. This doesn’t include the tens of thousands he and his wife donated in 2015-2016 to the Clinton campaign and state parties on her behalf. I guess it’s fair to say we know how much it costs to buy Democrats. Throw a few grand in several directions and even a former Republican slumlord can have the corporate version of the “progressive” label.
Here are the facts on the ground– when local Democratic activists and clubs have had an opportunity to vote on the candidates, progressives Sam Jammal and Jay Chen have come out ahead. At the Democratic Party’s pre-endorsement caucus– a generally corrupt process driven by party elites– Cisneros was so toxic to party controlled delegates that he only received just one (1) vote. Chen received the plurality of votes but fell shy of the endorsement. At a meeting of the Tri Counties Democratic Club, one of the few clubs in the district, Cisneros received 0 votes. Jammal received the majority of votes but fell shy of the endorsement. Time and again, when people have met Cisneros, they have chosen anyone but him.
You would think Democrats would have learned that you can’t force a candidate down voters throats. Especially a candidate that local voters have shown no interest in supporting. But nothing has changed. If anything, it’s gotten worse.
We rank-and-file Democrats are going to have to save ourselves–professional Democrats are just too fucking moronic, when they’re not venial. Unfortunately, that means we’re going to save some assholes as well. So when we do that, remember who the idiots who got in the way were.