Monday, October 31, 2016
By Jonathan Swan
Federal government employees are opening their wallets to help Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump on Nov. 8.
Of the roughly $2 million that federal workers from 14 agencies spent on presidential politics by the end of September, about $1.9 million, or 95 percent, went to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, according to an analysis by The Hill.Employees at all the agencies analyzed, without exception, are sending their campaign contributions overwhelmingly to Clinton over her Republican counterpart. Several agencies, such as the State Department, which Clinton once led, saw more than 99 percent of contributions going to Clinton.
Employees of the Department of Justice, which investigated Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, gave Clinton 97 percent of their donations. Trump received $8,756 from DOJ employees compared with $286,797 for Clinton. From IRS employees, Clinton received 94 percent of donations.
Federal government employees overwhelmingly backed Clinton’s presidential campaign no matter which agency The Hill analyzed using Federal Election Commission data covering donors giving more than $200.
Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said these donation patterns are more evidence of the “rigged system” favoring establishment candidates like Clinton over outsiders like Trump. The Trump campaign has been citing lopsided media donations to Clinton — though there’s no evidence they’re coming from reporters covering Trump — as further evidence that the game is fixed.
But David Schultz, a Hamline University Professor of Political Science, said government employees have historically favored Democratic candidates over Republicans both in their voting habits and political contributions made in their personal time.
Under the Hatch Act, federal government employees are banned from engaging in political activities, including making campaign contributions, during work hours.
“Government employees are, on balance, more moderate or more liberal as opposed to the general population,” Schultz said. “Not across the board, but in general.”
Government employees are “more likely to believe in government as opposed to, let’s say, a privatization program,” he added, “programs that we would view as hostile to government.”
Republicans typically campaign on promises to slash government payrolls, which helps explain why recent GOP presidential candidates have received the smaller share of donations from government workers.
Yet while Republicans usually do worse than Democrats, Trump appears to be doing especially poorly in fundraising from government employees.
The 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, received 14 percent of donations from the same group of agencies surveyed for Trump. Trump received just 5 percent.
Romney got close to $300,000 more from these same departments’ employees than Trump has four years later. Comparisons to previous presidential candidates are of limited value, since they took public funding for their general election campaigns.
Trump might have had a chance to do better than Romney. He discarded much of Republican orthodoxy during his primary campaign, which could have led some federal employees to believe that he’d be more amenable to big government. He vowed, for example, to leave massive social welfare programs virtually untouched.
But Trump also constantly attacked federal institutions. During his primary campaign, he described the federal government as a corrupt, bloated body run by “very, very, stupid people.”
Trump vowed “tremendous cutting” of the government in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in January and singled out the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency as agencies he’d slash dramatically if not outright eliminate.
Agency employees have likely taken note of Trump’s hostile rhetoric. In the Department of Education’s case, that included Trump’s pledges to hand over control to the states and to fight tooth and nail against Common Core standards.
From Department of Education employees this cycle, Trump received three donations totaling $220. Clinton received 724 donations for more than $74,000. In all, she received 99.7 percent of donations from employees of the department.
Donations from the State Department, which Clinton ran from 2009 to 2013, were even more slanted in her favor. State Department employees gave Trump 39 donations, for $4,652. Over the same time period, they gave their former boss 2,518 donations, for $425,525.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has portrayed himself as a strongman who would toughen up America’s defenses — both militarily and at the border — and who would take care of veterans. It’s probably no coincidence, therefore, that Trump performed best in donations among employees of three agencies: Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.
But even employees of these more Trump-friendly agencies have overwhelmingly contributed to Clinton’s campaign. From Defense employees, Trump received 341 donations for $43,575. Clinton got 2,392 donations for $225,560, giving her 84 percent of the money. From Homeland Security employees, Clinton got 90 percent of the donations, and from Veterans Affairs she took 88 percent.
Romney performed significantly better than Trump with employees at all three agencies, receiving, for example, $98,153 from Defense employees, which amounted 21 percent of donations.
During the Republican primaries, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said, “Let’s create a little bit of a recession in Washington, D.C., so that we can have economic prosperity outside of Washington.” Fear of such plans might be the truest explanation of these uniformly lopsided donations.
Schultz, the Hamline professor, said “self-preservation”— particularly for workers engaged in public sector unions — probably motivates their political giving.
“This means support for their jobs,” he said. “Clinton, for the most part, is going to be probably a continuation of more or less what Obama is.”
Federal government employees, he said, are likely “more willing to give to somebody who would be more predictable in terms of supporting their livelihood, their jobs, as opposed to somebody who might be less predictable.”
Sunday, October 30, 2016
We need to be talking about five wars, the national debt, rising health care costs and corruption.
My last column noted that although America is fighting something like five wars, nobody seems to be talking about it. It would be nice if that were the only important subject that’s not getting enough attention but it isn’t. Here are a few other topics that would be getting major daily attention, if our press and our candidates were better.
In 2006, Rep. Nancy Pelosi led a campaign to take Congress back from the GOP by claiming that the Republicans had fostered a “culture of corruption,” and promising to “drain the swamp.” That catchphrase vanished after the election, but the corruption did not. And in the waning years of the Obama Administration, the corruption looks pretty bad. It even appears to have reached the FBI.
The FBI ultimately decided not to recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton over her email scandal. That created a lot of criticism. But now it turns out that the FBI official in charge of the investigation was awfully close to the Clintons. The FBI official is deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, was running for state senate in Virginia. Her campaign received a donation of nearly a half million dollars from the political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has been close to the Clintons for decades (and has his own brushes with the law). Then, a bit later, Andrew McCabe was put in charge of the investigation into Clinton's emails, an investigation that — to the dismay of many longtime Bureau insiders — recommended no charges. Now McCabe is facing calls for his resignation.
As Stephen Green points out, McAuliffe encouraged Jill McCabe to run just days after the Clinton email scandal broke. I’m sure he knew who her husband was when he did so. The FBI claims there’s no connection, but this is very bad for the already-tarnished image of the FBI.
POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media
Meanwhile, we have Clinton's pay-for-play deal with the King of Morocco. To the consternation of her advisers, she agreed to speak in Morocco in exchange for a promised $12 million donation to the Clinton Foundation. As the Huffington Post noted, "It is generally frowned upon for presidential candidates to be pumping foreign leaders for money.” At least her staff recognized that and eventually replaced Hillary with Bill and Chelsea.
But this sort of thing seems to have been par for the course at the Clinton Foundation, which, as ABC News reported, gave special treatment to “Friends of Bill.” As Bob Woodward commented, “But the mixing of speech fees, the Clinton Foundation, and actions by the State Department, which she ran, are all intertwined and it's corrupt. . . . But the election isn't going to be decided on that.” Not if Clinton can help it.
The Affordable Care Act, better known as “ObamaCare,” was passed via a procedural trickcalled “reconciliation” and without a single Republican vote. Now that it is falling apart, and the Obama Administration — and the press — are blaming . . . Republicans for not fixing it. ObamaCare is imploding because the original concept was unworkable, as many critics argued at the time it was adopted. Now, several years later, insurers are abandoning the project and Americans’ premiums are facing double-digit increases.
Given that this was President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, and given that Clinton is running, essentially, on the promise of a third Obama term, you’d think this would be a top story in the news, getting the full-bore coverage every day that, say, a groping allegation against Donald Trump receives. But you’d be wrong. As Twitter humorist Jim Treacher says, "Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn't know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.”
Clinton has repeatedly claimed that she won’t "add a penny” to the national debt. On the one hand, that would be good, since the debt has roughly doubled during Obama’s time in office. On the other hand, she’s largely been allowed to slide on this implausible promise, and the increase in the debt under Obama has received surprisingly little attention, despite the burdens it will impose on millennials in terms of taxes and lost opportunities. The debt will still be there after the election, but the Clinton campaign, and the press, don’t want you thinking about it — and Hillary’s role in it — until then.
Corruption, unaffordable healthcare, a burgeoning national debt: These are all things that will have serious consequences for Americans for decades, to come. In a healthier society, our election would turn on these issues. But we do not live in such a society. And that suits politicians, and their supporters in the press, just fine.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.