Republican Party of Kentucky gets $125K from Andy Barr, $10K from a Texas pharmacist & pays Jesse Benton $105K

The good Mr. Loftus reports at C-J:

Thanks to a big contribution from Congressman Andy Barr’s campaign committee and a transfer from the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Kentucky reported raising more than $450,000 in August and that it had $2.1 million in the bank at the end of the month.

Andy Barr’s campaign gave $125,000 to the state Republican Party on August 20th. That’s noteworthy not just for its size but also for what it means.

Yesterday, hours after his opponent released an internal poll showing the race within single digits and Andy under 50% with 18% undecided, the Barr campaign put out an internal poll of their own claiming Andy Barr was actually up 19% over Elisabeth Jensen [see: Barr v. Jensen: Competing Internal Polls in Kentucky’s 6th District.]

In the Barr campaign’s polling report, they highlighted and attacked Jensen for having loaned her campaign $100,000. The fact of Kentucky’s 6th District Congressional is that while Barr has received hefty institutional support from within the Republican Party fundraising machine, many key Democratic fundraisers have continually overlooked Jensen and her race. As of mid-July, Andy Barr had nearly $1.5 million in cash on hand. His campaign has enjoyed vast infusions of cash from Wall Street investments firms, Too Big to Fail Banks, predatory lenders and more. Meanwhile, Jensen’s campaign has done tremendous work at keeping pace amongst individual donors but has enjoyed no such boom in institutional ones. The fact that Barr’s campaign attacks Jensen for loaning herself $100,000 at the very same time it’s just handing off $125,000 to the state’s Republican Party is only the latest example of Andy Barr’s insulting hypocrisy. But what it should signal to Democrats in the state and nationally is that because they have largely overlooked this race, so far (and time is quickly running out), they have created a situation where Barr’s massive cash haul will spill over in effect into other state races, both for the General Assembly and the Kentucky Senate Race. If Barr’s internal poll is even half right, that spells some real trouble for Alison Lundergan Grimes. In 2010, Barr lost by just 648 votes. In his 2012, he won by less than 4%. If the gap does not close in the 6th District race, that’s a good sign for Mitch McConnell. Grimes must go huge in the 6th and the 3rd in order to win. As it stands, Andy Barr has so much money still to spend that he can simultaneously plaster the 6th District and fund Republican efforts statewide.

The point is, Barr is now able to make the rest of the GOP stronger, hurting Dem chances across the board — even though Jensen has done a strong job of fundraising from individuals.. If national forces and other major state campaigns don’t start digging in against Barr’s Wall Street millions, it’s bad news for everyone. But just because they’ve not started yet, doesn’t mean they can’t jump in now. Given the past races in the 6th, it would be surprising if that margin between Barr and Jensen doesn’t close further between now and election day, but it’d be foolish to take that assumption to the bank, and even more foolish, as B&P has long warned, to believe that even a 4% loss here couldn’t spell a death knell there.

Barr-RPK

Another interesting piece of information in the latest Republican Party of Kentucky report is that the RPK paid an additional $15,000 to Jesse Benton. Benton resigned as manager of the McConnell campaign late last month due to his role in an apparent cash-for-political endorsement bribery scandal. To date, the Republican Party of Kentucky has paid Jesse Benton $105,000. So, sure, Andy Barr’s $125,000 check should come in handy.

That’s in addition to the more than $425,000 the McConnell campaign paid Benton for less than two years of work. (When someone has a history of being involved with bribing people for their support, one does have to wonder where all that money goes.)

As Loftus also notes, the RPK got several large checks — though, not really all that large when compared to Andy Barr’s contribution — from out of state donors. One of those, a $10,000 check from Richie Ray of Richie’s Specialty Pharmacy in Conroe, Texas.

Richie’s Speciality Pharmacy sounds quaint enough but is actually one of the leading players in the “compounding pharmacy” business which has arisen in recent years to put small mom and pop Main Street pharmacies out of business. The compounding pharmacy market is largely unregulated and Richie Ray is one of their biggest cheerleaders, doling out big bucks in Texas and spreading that wealth across the country:

Compounding pharmacies are already locked in a bigger fight—one that more directly affects their bottom line—over how they’ll be regulated by the FDA. That fight involves lawmakers and lobbyists at the state and federal levels, and Ray and his staff have been instrumental in bankrolling compounders’ interests.

Until now, the FDA had oversight of big drug manufacturers, but compounding pharmacies—which had long been little mom-and-pop shops that made drugs for pets or lollipop medications for kids—were left to state regulation. As compounders have grown, so have horror stories about tainted drug batches shipped from compounders to customers nationwide. In its report TPJ recalled the case of Dallas-based ApotheCure, whose drugs killed three patients in Oregon in 2007. Cedar Park-based Specialty Compounding was linked to infections last year in more than a dozen patients. And most notoriously, tainted drugs from the New England Compounding Center killed at least 64 people and infected more than 700 more with meningitis.

That outbreak prompted a quick response from Congress: for the first time, large-scale compounding pharmacies are set for federal regulation, with standards similar to drug manufacturers. But which businesses will fall under federal watch as “outsourcing pharmacies,” and how much that’ll cost them, is all up to rule makers at the FDA.

If you’d like to read more about the RPK’s new friend, you can start here:

Koch Industries has given $93,800 to Mitch McConnell (that we know of)

“I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David, for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you” 
–Mitch McConnell, in secretly recorded remarks at the Koch Brother’s  summer seminar.

***

In a report published just days after the release of a secret recording of Mitch McConnell at the Koch Brothers retreat where the Koch’s planned a , the Courier Journal’s Tom Loftus looked at how much money the Koch’s had given Mitch McConnell. The figure Loftus came up with was $65,800:

My research finds $40,800 in contributions from the Koch family and PAC to McConnell’s re-election campaign. But the PAC of Koch Industries has also given $25,000 this election cycle to McConnell’s own PAC, Bluegrass Committee.

That total may be a bit low. The total appears to be closer to $100,000 — or $93,800, to be exact. Loftus reports finding 10 contributions from Koch Industries to McConnell’s leadership PAC, the Bluegrass Committee, between 2009 and the present but unless I’m missing something, the number is actually twice that: Four checks in 2013, four checks in 2012, four checks in 2011, four checks in 2010 and four checks in 2009.

Quantifying how much money the Koch Brothers funnel to any candidate is difficult because they have set up their business and their political activities in an intentionally labyrinthine fashion, a set of interlocking 501c3, 501c4 and 527 organizations which sit alongside a group of LLCs and investment trusts. So, for example, James Martin — chairman of the heavily Koch funded “60 Plus Association” — wrote McConnell a check for $1,000 in May of 2012. Almost exactly one year later, the heavily Koch-funded American Future Fund wrote Mitch McConnell another check for $1,000.

W-kochnetwork A_Maze_of_Money

 

Tracing all their elaborate funding strategies and interrelated organizations is difficult by design; it is one way the Koch Brothers are able to cloak so much of their political activities. In addition, of course, there are untold amounts of money flowing from the Kochs to the McConnell aligned dark money group, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which does not disclose its donors, has spent at least $5.5 million on TV advertisements since June and is in a good position to spend $1 million more each week through election day — which is what they have spent to blanket the Bluegrass with anti-Grimes propaganda next week (see Sonka for more no that).

Leaving their dark money blackbag contributions aside, the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries appear to have given Mitch McConnell at least $93,800 in this election cycle alone. This includes the $2,000 mentioned above from allied organizations, and another $1,000 from a lobbyist in their Virginia-based “Koch Companies Public Sector” outfit. But still… that’s just $3,000 extra dollars and is likely only scraping the surface of what other money may be flowing from the many other tentacles of the Koch machine. The rest of that hundred grand is straight from the Koch spigot.

Here’s $83,400 from the Koch Brothers and their partners, given to Mitch McConnell and McConnell’s “leadership PAC” between 2009 and 2013:

KochMcConnell2009-2013

And here’s the $10,400 the Koch family has given Mitch McConnell directly just this year:

KochMitch2014

And here, for fun, are the maxed-out receipts for Charles Koch’s contributions for Mitch’s Primary and General.

koch42314primary Koch42314general

Charles Koch can’t officially give Mitch any more money… but where there’s a billionaire, there’s a way! And this ideologically deranged billionaire is welcome to funnel as much money as he wants to the dark money groups that are currently bombarding Kentucky voters… like, say, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition.

At the secret Koch Industries retreat in June where Mitch McConnell was recorded, a small group of super rich men with combined wealth of about $100 Billion got together to discuss how to raise and spend half a billion to win the 2014 Midterm elections and another half a billion for the 2016 elections. At that retreat, Mitch McConnell pledged to shut down the government if re-elected, to block the raising of the minimum wage and declared the passage of a law that required a minimum of disclosure for campaign contributions as the “worst day of my life,” an admission that’s earned Mitch some well-deserved scorn.

Barr v. Jensen: Competing Internal Polls in Kentucky’s 6th District

That didn’t take long.

The Jensen campaign released an internal poll from Lake Research Partners this morning. That poll found Andy Barr ahead by 9%, a significant drop since March when they’d found Barr up 16%.

In response, the Barr campaign has released an internal poll of its own, conducted by the Republican pollster Robert Blizzard at Public Opinion Strategies. According to the Barr poll, Andy holds a 19% lead.

Barr’s internal poll claims he has a 53% favorable to 32% unfavorable rating. Jensen’s internal poll had a not dissimilar finding (50% to 34%) but what Jensen’s poll includes and Barr’s does not is that Barr’s job approval rating is inverted: 48% just fair/poor, 41% excellent/good.

The Barr poll also does not present findings on undecided voters. The Jensen poll has them at 18% of the respondents, with just 6% of those voters saying they would vote for Andy Barr today.

As discussed earlier, while Barr certainly holds the advantage in name recognition and out-of-state fundraising, and while he has a vested interest in declaring the whole thing over six weeks before election day, the race will come down to how the undecided voters break and how the U.S. Senate race breaks down. Ultimately, Barr is tied to McConnell and Jensen to Grimes… and in the 6th District, McConnell and Grimes are tied to the fates of Barr and Jensen. McConnell must tamp down Democratic turnout in the 6th to win, and Grimes must maximize her advantage in the 6th if she hopes to defeat Mitch.

These two competing internal polls present predictably competing visions of what is actually happening. The Barr poll paints a picture of inevitability and invincibility; the Jensen poll makes clear that against an opponent who’s got millions in contributions from Wall Street donors and special interests aligned with far right Tea Party groups, and despite little existing name recognition just six months ago, the Jensen campaign is beating the odds so far.

It’s also worth noting at this point that while Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies are both partisan pollsters, and that as such their results are likely skewed toward the candidate conducting the poll, one of these groups is rated “Accurate” and one is not.

That group is Lake Research Partners. In the 2012 elections, Lake was the third most accurate pollster, while Public Opinion Strategies was the third least accurate.

LakeVsPublicOpinion

Here are the two competing polling reports:

Jensen Poll Barr Poll

And if you want to see the difference in messaging between these two campaigns, or just get to know your choices, here ya go:

 

EARLIER: Jensen poll shows Barr with single digit lead in #KY6 with 18% undecided 

Jensen poll shows Barr with single digit lead in #KY6 with 18% undecided [UPDATED]

A new internal poll from the Elisabeth Jensen campaign is out this morning and it shows the race tightening. The survey of 400 Kentucky voters in the 6th District from Lake Research Partners shows Republican Andy Barr receiving 45% to Jensen’s 36%. The same firm conducted a similar survey in March and this new poll indicates Jensen has cut Barr’s lead nearly in half. Barr was up 16% just six months ago but now is up only nine.

“Voters are tired of this do-nothing Congress,” Elisabeth Jensen said in a written statement, “and Andy Barr has no solutions other than to point fingers of blame.  I will fight against cuts in needed programs for seniors and children and make it my job to improve wages and bring more good jobs to Kentucky.”

The most interesting numbers came in the form of Barr’s job approval — and the large number of remaining undecided voters, 18%.

In the survey that was conducted over three nights September 15 to 17, just 41 percent rate Representative Barr’s job performance as good or excellent, and just 40 percent say Barr deserves re-election.   As many as 18 percent of voters are undecided in a race that has over six weeks to go.

Barr’s single digit lead is noteworthy, but not as noteworthy as the fact that he not only remains below 50%, he’s actually fallen three points since March while Jensen has closed the gap. Among the undecided voters, the poll results show, just 15% believe Andy Barr is doing a “good” job while 51% of these undecided voters believe Andy Barr is doing a “just fair/poor” job. Only 6% of these undecided voters — who, again, make up 18% of the respondents — would vote today to re-elect Garland H. Barr IV. 

There’s never been any doubt that this would be a difficult race but these numbers hold strong promise — if Jensen can keep up her pace and if establishment Dems continue to get on board, there’s a good chance for an upset in this race which many national Democratic groups wrote-off a year ago… before, more recently, realizing their mistake.

The 6th District has a large number of Democratic voters but turnout in midterm elections is generally well below that of general ones, and Jensen is a newcomer. Barr won by a narrow margin against an incumbent Democrat with a well-known name on his second attempt. The other factor here is that in midterms, voters at large don’t generally clue in to the races and the candidates until much later as the two campaigns sprint toward the finish through October. Jensen and Barr will have two debates, and presumably each will be raising their profile. Here again there are promising findings in the poll results — while only 17% of voters were familiar with her back in March, today 49% of voters are familiar with Elisabeth Jensen.

Andy Barr, who is deeply underwritten by Wall Street banks and mortgage and debt related investment firms, is in the stronger position for this last push as he has over a million dollars to spend on attack ads. But with large swaths of voters yet to make up their mind — or really get to know their choices — the 6th District remains an enticing pick-up chance for the Dems. If there are still some establishment Democrats who are choosing to overlook Kentucky’s 6th District, then they may be overlooking one of the few opportunities nationwide to score an upset victory.

That’s in part because of this: One of the biggest unknowns in the Barr vs. Jensen campaign is the U.S. Senate race.

How well McConnell and Grimes do in Lexington, especially, and throughout the 6th will likely determine how this race turns out. If Grimes can motivate large numbers of Dems and Independents to hit the polls that make pull Jensen up; at the same time, as we’ve argued for some time, with the right infrastructure and attention, Jensen could do a large service to Grimes by driving 6th District voters to the poll while Grimes tries to build her own support in Northern and Eastern Kentucky. If Grimes is to win her race, she’ll have to trounce McConnell in the 6th District — and Barr will likely use his Wall Street millions in a coordinated effort to stop that from happening.

We’ll see how it plays out.

From the release:

“Elisabeth is connecting with voters, and Barr just isn’t,” said Allan Rivlin, Jensen’s Campaign Manager.  “With all the money he gets from banking and finance industry lobbyists, Barr has been out-spending us, but his support is going down and Elisabeth’s is going up.  The poll tells us Kentucky voters are not impressed with Andy Barr’s efforts to protect the rich and put the needs of Wall Street bankers ahead of the needs of Kentucky families.   Elisabeth will stand up for women and families in Kentucky who want more jobs and better wages.”

Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey, which was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers. The survey reached 400 adults in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, 18 years or older, who are likely to vote in the 2014 general election. The survey was conducted September 15th – 17th, 2014. The margin of error for this poll is +/-4.9%

***UPDATE: Barr v. Jensen: Competing Internal Polls in Kentucky’s 6th District

Alison’s Grandmother Returns (and this time she means business)

Alison Lundergan Grimes has one of the greatest strengths of any candidate in the country — a kickass grandma. While Elsie was a fixture earlier in the campaign in funny, highly effective ads, of late she’s been put in the background. But that ends today as Elsie comes out of retirement to explain that sometimes there is no retirement.

The ad is about 52 seconds of personal ‘get-to-know-you’ bio on Alison’s family in a moving build to a direct argument from Alison against Mitch McConnell’s record on Medicare. It is a welcome change in approach.

And it’s pissed Mitch McConnell off something fierce.

Elsie remains possibly Alison’s greatest communicator. One wonders if Alison were allowed to run a bit more free, a little bit of that Elsie fire might shine through — hopefully we’ll see that soon, but in the meantime, if Elsie wants to be the one throwing the punches at Mitch McConnell, that seems like a fight Mitch isn’t going to win.

And while serious Elsie was effective in the ad above, playful and funny Grandma Elsie should not be forgotten… the way to the heart and the mind is often best found through humor. After all, Mitch McConnell’s been looking for ways to empower grandma. He’s basically begging for it.

An earlier Elsie ad:

Voice of the Voiceless: In new campaign ad, Andy Barr stands up for oppressed bankers

This new Andy Barr ad is amazing — a put-upon twentysomething banker rides to Andy Barr’s defense. Andy Barr is the voice of the voiceless!

It effectively communicates several important messages:

  • This is Garland H. Barr IV’s core constituency.
  • If you are concerned about the widespread oppression of wealthy white male bankers, Andy Barr is your man!
  • If you or your family own a bank, Andy Barr will fight for you!

Now… you might be saying to yourself at this point, What’s the deal with the widespread oppression of bankers? 

That’s a really excellent question, and Andy Barr can answer it for you. You see, ever since the banking and finance industry collapsed the American economy in 2008 through predatory lending and the complex bundling of a debt-driven private sector economy thanks to the complete deregulation of the banking and investment markets around the turn of the century, bankers have really gotten a bad wrap. Because of the financial crisis they caused, people don’t trust them. And as Andy Barr makes clear, that’s all wrong! The financial crisis was actually a result of too much regulation, not the lack of it, and thus the oppression of America’s banking elite is wrong, too. We should actually blame poor people who were told by bankers that they could buy houses they couldn’t afford.

And if you think that Andy Barr’s new campaign ad above presents a possibly tone deaf vision of what is really happening in America today, that it treats Kentucky’s 6th District voters as if the most important single issue to them is that we must stop the violent Obamma oppression of young white male bankers, well then you haven’t heard Andy Barr discuss the topic of income inequality.

Income inequality, Garland H. Barr IV explains, is caused by government snooping on people and because rich people (like bankers?) can afford CPAs and lawyers.

Yes, that’s right! Because the government is spying on everyone, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Those damn lawyers and accountants ruin everything.

Oh… wait… something doesn’t add up here.

Andy Barr's top campaign contributors by industry.

Andy Barr’s top campaign contributors by industry.