Over four decades of majority and super-majority rule by Democrats in the California Senate and state Assembly, which has emasculated the power of the Republicans, has also forced major corporations to seek moderate Democrats to help move forward their big business agendas.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the problem for big business is to identify exactly who the moderates are. Although other caucuses are frequently organized around specific political functions or ethnic identity, there is no real moderate caucus that is officially sanctioned by the state legislature.
“The question I always get when I go give speeches about the mods is, ‘Who are you guys? Is there a website? A roster?'” said Assemblyman Henry Perea, a Democrat from Fresno and the leader of the nebulous caucus.
The Bee reports that to help solidify the indiscernible caucus, two consultants, David Townsend and Chris Tappio, have established PACs in Sacramento, which do fundraising for corporate interests serving the likes of energy companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the insurance industry. They siphon off the fundraising spoils into the moderate Democrat political campaigns, hoping to create a counterweight to the state’s liberal lawmakers, bolstered by the environmentalists, trial lawyers, and unions.
Needless to say, this development is much to the chagrin of the left-wing of the Democrat party, which is calling “foul,” arguing that the outside assist from Townsend and Tappio is crossing the line and advancing the role of special interests at the expense of the of the conventional legislative system.
“What you don’t want to have is a situation where private interests are underwriting de facto staff or the political operation of elected officials. The whole idea for elected officials is that they are beholden to taxpayers, not special interests,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C.
“When you have these caucuses and special groups, the problem crops up that the lines become very murky.”
However, the liberal protestations haven’t stopped the two big business advocates. According to the Bee, their fundraising has contributed to half the Democrats in the state Assembly and about one-fifth of Senate Democrats. “It’s not that the money corrupts people. The money finds people that agree with whoever has the money,” says Townsend, whose PAC has spent $5.7 million. “You’re not using the money to convince somebody.”