All sides of the political spectrum, from Gov. Sarah Palin to the New York Times editorial board, are endorsing the new book Extortion by senior Breitbart News editor-at-large Peter Schweizer.
In a rare moment of ideological similitude, a Wednesday piece by New York Times editorial board member David Firestone titled “The Conservative Who Hates Slush Funds” hailed Schweizer’s book as one “sure to wind up on the nightstands of all campaign finance geeks.” Firestone added, “The issue cannot get enough publicity, but the best news of all is that the book was written by a conservative” who is “a fellow at the Hoover Institution and an editor-at-large at Breitbart.”
The Times’ article ran even as Breitbart News had as its lead story a book endorsement by Gov. Sarah Palin.
On Sunday, 60 Minutes partnered with Schweizer, who is also president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), on an investigation exposing how politicians use their leadership PACs as private slush funds to bankroll lavish lifestyle upgrades for themselves and their families, such as Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) spending $35,000 on NFL tickets; Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) using $64,500 to buy a painting of himself; or Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) spending $107,752 at the Breakers resort in Palm Beach. The Times said outrages such as these should raise bipartisan ire.
“There’s no reason why reducing the influence of money should be a conservative or a liberal project,” wrote Firestone. “These are fundamental questions of better government, and Tea Party activists who complain about the influence of insider elites should be just as angry as liberal do-gooders… But aside from Mr. Schweizer, the push to limit and disclose donations has come almost entirely from the left.”
In Extortion, Schweizer states that while he opposes public financing of elections, he strongly supports banning leadership PACs. His reasoning: leadership PACs have morphed into little more than a “second personal bank account ” from which to draw cash to spend on lavish lifestyle perks and crony endeavors. Schweizer says the fact that “politicians generally hate raising money is a good reason to keep the current system,” because “having to raise money is one of the few things that keeps these people humble.”
The Times’ editorial page editor’s blog entry concluded: “the truth eventually comes out… through the work of individuals like Mr. Schweizer.”
“If ever there were an issue on which left and right could come together, it’s this one, and a good first step would be legislation, co-sponsored by members of both parties, to put an end to leadership PACs,” wrote Firestone.