Should billionaire casino magnates and oil company executives from other parts of the United States have the right to determine the Eighth District’s next congressman? That’s the question that voters in our region should be asking themselves as a literal handful of the country’s mega-rich are pouring millions of dollars into attacks against DFLer Joe Radinovich, who is currently running to replace Congressman Rick Nolan in Washington.
The onslaught is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before as secretive Super PACS have inundated our television, computer, and phone screens with an endless stream of attacks that media fact-checkers, like Politifact, have labled “mostly false.”
Who are some of these groups? The biggest spender, so far, is the Congressional Leadership Fund, which had poured $3.89 million into attack ads against Radinovich as of Monday of this week. The group has raised $100 million this election cycle, almost one-third of it from groups connected to Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who has become the GOP’s biggest dark moneyman. Adding to the haul are major corporations, like Koch Industries, and other oil and coal interests, along with companies like Erik Prince’s Blackstone Group, a corporation that has grown rich providing mercenaries around the world.
Another big Super PAC spender is the America First Action Fund, which had dumped nearly $2 million into attacks on Radinovich, funded again by a who’s-who of the mega-rich.
None of these companies or individuals have any real connection to the Eighth District. But they were the primary beneficiaries of the GOP tax cuts and they want to protect a Republican majority in Congress, so they can continue their push for lower taxes for the rich at the expense of our nation’s future.
If you can judge a man by the friends he keeps, Radinovich’s Republican opponent Pete Stauber clearly has some explaining to do. The billionaires aren’t pouring millions into this race because they are concerned that Radinovich is somehow unfit for Congress. They’re waging their campaign of deceit in hopes that voters here will send Stauber to Washington to help facilitate the further entrenchment of the billionaires’ agenda over America’s foreign and domestic policy. They know that the most recent round of tax cuts for the rich has pushed America’s deficit higher and now they want Congress to go after “entitlements” to facilitate even more tax cuts for the wealthy.
By entitlements, of course, they mean Social Security and Medicare, which both Congressional leaders and Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, have indicated in recent public comments will be part of their agenda if Republicans maintain total control in Washington. That’s become an issue in this race, even as Stauber stubbornly refuses to acknowledge what his party’s own leaders have planned.
Instead of addressing the issue, Stauber’s attack dog billionaires have flooded the airwaves with ads accusing Radinovich, of all people, of wanting to destroy Medicare. That’s not “mostly false”— that’s 100-percent pure b.s. Radinovich wants to expand Medicare to cover everyone and he wants to improve the program by adding vision and dental coverage, which Medicare doesn’t currently cover.
The biggest question for voters here is, are we going to let a handful of billionaires who couldn’t find the Eighth District on a map if their gilded lives depended on it, decide who represents us in Congress? We suspect voters here have enough common sense to see these attacks for what they are. They aren’t just attacking Joe Radinovich. They’re attacking the very notion of democracy, by overwhelming the political debate in a manner that’s guaranteed to turn off voters. If those of us in the Eighth want to send a message, we should tell the billionaires to knock it off. Tell them they can’t buy this seat with their negative attacks. Northeastern Minnesotans should be smarter than that.