Super PACs are independent expenditure-only committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates for office. They are prohibited from coordinating with candidates, but in practice, this rule is often difficult to enforce.
Vivek Garipalli, the biggest donor to a super PAC created for the benefit of Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, an aspiring candidate for governor, has also contributed more than a million dollars to SFA Fund, Inc., another super PAC that is working to elect Nikki Haley president.
Fulop has cut deals with Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, while Haley is a Trump-loving Republican ostensibly running for president in what is more accurately called a race to be selected as the indicted GOP leader as his candidate for vice-president.
This suggests that there is not as much of a divide between these two politicians as it might seem and that Garipalli is ready to make money off of either one or both of them, meaning Fulop and Haley.
Super PACs are a threat to democracy because they allow wealthy individuals and corporations to have an outsized influence on elections. This can lead to the election of politicians who are more interested in serving the interests of their donors than the interests of the people they represent.
In addition to the examples of Fulop and Haley, there are many other examples of super PACs supporting undemocratic politicians. For example, the Koch brothers have been major donors to super PACs that support Republican candidates who deny climate change and oppose campaign finance reform.
The rise of super PACs is a sign that America is becoming more of an oligarchy, a system of government in which a small group of wealthy people have the most power. If we want to preserve our democracy, we need to reform campaign finance laws to limit the influence of super PACs.
There are a number of things that can be done to address the problem of super PACs.
One option is to ban them altogether. This would require a constitutional amendment, but it is the most effective way to prevent super PACs from influencing elections.
Another option is to define what super PACs do as bribery, which has been made very difficult to prosecute under current laws as a result of Supreme Court interpretations but super PACs are clearly intended to have a significant impact on elections and influence policy with payoffs. Americans can demand that Congress outlaw bribery once again.
A third option is to require more transparency from super PACs. This should allow voters to know who is funding super PACs and what they are trying to achieve but disclosure laws have failed to inspire better citizenship as more and more Americans are spending all their time struggling to keep up in an economic system that has been turned against them.
Without adequate financial means, many ordinary Americans cannot spare time to monitor and influence the government, which is one of the goals of the political establishment that caters to oligarchs.
Regardless of any particulars, we need to reform campaign finance laws to make it easier for candidates to run for office without relying on large donations from wealthy individuals and corporations. This would reduce the influence of money in politics and make our elections more fair and democratic.
As President John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Garipalli, the owner of CarePoint Health, a for-profit hospital chain, donated $1 million to a super PAC with ties to the Jersey City Mayor after Fulop had recommended the oligrch’s business for a city ambulance contract.
CarePoint’s hospitals have been criticized for billing some of the highest rates in the country.
The donation was made through a shell company, DE First Holdings, which was formed the day before it made the donation—suggesting that prosecutors it could have made a case that it was illegal.
Hiding the source of a political contribution is illegal in the United States because it can undermine the public’s trust in the political process and allow wealthy individuals and corporations to have an undue influence on elections.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) requires all political committees to disclose the identity of any individual or entity that contributes more than $200 to the committee in a calendar year. This disclosure requirement is intended to promote transparency and accountability in the political process.
The source of another $400,000 donation to the super PAC remained opaque until reporters ultimately found that it was from .
The $400,000 donation to Coalition for Progress came from what was at the time a newly-formed nonprofit called Progressive New Jersey Inc. run out of a condo belonging to an obscure Middlesex County Democratic operative.
Progressive New Jersey’s six-figure contribution on September 14, 2015, was largely overshadowed by the $1 million donation by the Wilmington, Delaware-based company D.E. First Holdings – which was a shell corporation apparently used to illegally shield the identity of Garipalli as the biggest donor to the Coalition for Progress.
This arrangement can be described as a nefarious political arrangement with corrupt connotations because it appears that Garipalli is using his wealth to influence Fulop, a public official, in a way that could benefit his business. The fact that the donation was made through a shell company further suggests that Garipalli is trying to obscure his involvement.
This corruption in government is telling because while Democrats like Fulop cater to voters interested in LGBT rights, abortion, gun control and other culture war controversies they work primarily to benefit the rich at the expense of the 99 percent.
Progressive New Jersey initially refused to publicly disclose its donors.
Gary Hirsch, a North Brunswick Democratic committeeman, registered the organization which included Hirsch, Marla Brooke Tusk, of Wykoff, and Henry Plotkin, of Highland Park on the three-person board of trustees.
Tusk, a former federal prosecutor, is married to U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the former Microsoft executive and President Bill Clinton speechwriter who was called Trump’s favorite Democrat in Congress.
Plotkin was once the executive director of the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission under then-Gov. Jim McGreevey.
According to Bloomberg News, the father-son team of Charlie Kushner and Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, made a $100,000 donation from their company, KABR Group, to Progressive New Jersey Inc., the non-profit entity which bundled that money into a $400,000 contribution to Coalition for Progress, which “came as Fulop administration has been negotiating possible subsidies for the Kushner projects.”
Fulop—worked on Wall Street, joined the Marines, could be comfortably identified as a Bush Republican or MAGA extremist if he was on the ballot in another town or state, but political expediency allows politicians to keep voters off guard with culture war controversies instead of recognizing that economic issues are the real political divide in America.
According to emails between David Wildstein and Bill Stepien, the Republican dirty trickster who engineered the Bridgegate scandal and former Governor Chris Christie’s campaign manager, respectively, indicated the Republicans were courting Fulop’s endorsement in late 2013.
When the New York Times asked what he thought about the leadership of President George Bush, Fulop—who quit his job as an analyst at Goldman Sachs to enlist in the Marines after Sept. 11, but although he went to Iraq, which had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks—said “I have to be careful there. That’s still my commander in chief.”
Until he got caught, Fulop was forging ahead with massive tax benefits for the Kushners but disdain over the Trump presidency put a damper on things. Ultimately, the massive development still went through and Fulop was at Kushner’s One Journal Square groundbreaking ceremony.