CMR’s Message of Division

Dear Group,

Most of you received a copy of McMorris Rodgers’ 2 sheet, 2 1/2 page snail mail letter dated May 4, 2018. Carefully read it is a remarkable document of Republican/Libertarian messaging brought to you courtesy of your own tax dollars.

It starts with, “My mission is to restore trust and confidence in representative government and the rule of law.” Clearly, that can mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. Note the use of the word “restore.” The underlying message is that government has lost the trust of the people, the Fox News listeners, whom it is supposed to serve. You don’t restore something that isn’t broken. 

She leaps right into “Fighting for Seniors in Eastern Washington.” About half of the first page is a short story of McMorris Rodgers’ office helping out a Senior whose Social Security payments stopped coming. She writes, “I know that working through red tape and bureaucracy can be stressful and can feel like you’re getting the run-around…” The message was essentially “I can help you with the horrible red tape and bureaucracy that characterizes our federal government.” She poses herself as fighting the government for her constituents benefit. What a puzzling message about government for a Representative serving in Congress. 

The second page starts with “Protecting Social Security and Medicare.” Under that heading she leaps into the “sweeping ‘reform’ of the tax code” and tells her stock anecdotes of the benefits of the Republican tax law to the middle class, carefully avoiding, as she always does, the 80 percent of the Republican tax law proceeds that accrue to the benefit of corporations and the already wealthy. She is saying, “Look at the crumbs we threw your way! Don’t look at the whole package. You wouldn’t understand.” 

She tips her hat to “affordable and accessible health care.” Of course, she voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which would have removed 23 million people from the health insurance rolls. Instead, she touts “transparency” and “competition” to make drugs more affordable. 

Near the end of the letter she takes one last jab, “Our budget process is badly broken…” She and her colleagues are bringing “commonsense reforms.”

Apparently, McMorris Rodgers and her Republican/Libertarian colleagues didn’t get the memo telling them they are actually in control of all three branches of the federal government. Since the 1990s the Republican/Libertarian propaganda outlets (Fox News was founded in the mid-1990s) and the Republican Party in general have been stoking anger and mistrust of the government of which they are a part, a government they now control. For the Republican Party there is no longer any “We” that encompasses government. There is no “We the People” who have gotten together to form a more perfect Union. Instead, it is “Us” against the evils of government. “I’ll do battle for you.” “I will fix this cursed thing.”

There is nothing quite like anger and distrust to unite followers to a cause. McMorris Rodgers is careful not to sound too shrill for eastern Washington, but her underlying message is the same as conservative talk radio. It is a message of conflict, mistrust, anger and disparagement—a message of division that runs counter to her frequent mouthing of the word “bipartisan.” Such divisiveness would have been utterly foreign to a statesman like Tom Foley. It is a message we should reject. Let’s put Lisa Brown in this office, a Representative who can work with, not against. 

Keep to the high ground,


Citizens United–Part II

Dear Group,

It is all about framing, labelling so as to confuse the listener, providing words that light up an image in the listener’s brain. The Republican/Libertarian machine understands this well. Framing is so insidious that the words are soon taken up by the opposition. With each use of the words by a discussant the framer’s point of view is reinforced.. [A recent glaring example I covered is the “Hearing Protection Act.”] For a concise but detailed analysis of framing I strongly encourage reading George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. (See References below)

Framing is so insidious the listener falls for it unaware. So it was with “Citizens United.” For anyone not fully engaged in the issue, the words “Citizens United” light up a mind frame populated by earnest fellow Americans. How can an issue populated with our fellow citizens be a threat to democracy? Continue reading “Citizens United–Part II”

CMR Twists on Net Neutrality

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers is running scared on the issue of Net Neutrality. She should be. She speaks incessantly about repealing regulation. For years she has been unable to say the word “regulation” without appending “job killing” as a prefix. She has reveled in her Party’s use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) early in the Trump presidency to repeal every regulation of the Obama administration the CRA could reach.

So imagine my surprise when I called McMorris Rodgers office to exhort her to vote for a bill that would reinstate the Net Neutrality rules and the staff person announced that “Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers supports a free and open internet.” What a change of heart, I thought. Well…no.

Then I received an email from “Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers” on May 16 with the subject line, “I support an open Internet.” Imagine that! She must be going to vote in favor of Net Neutrality, right? Not so fast. In case you didn’t get the email memo from her, the whole argument is also posted on her official “Congresswoman” website. You can read it here.

McMorris Rodgers is on the wrong side of this issue and she must know it. If she were actually in favor of a free and open internet she would already have drafted legislation to insure that it remains open and free. Instead, she claims devotion “free and open,” and breathlessly claims the Net Neutrality rules of the Obama administration were unnecessarily burdensome, wrong-headed, and stifling of investment. I can read those statements, congresswoman, but you offer nothing to back them up, nor do you offer your own legislation to assure the internet remains free and open.

Well, that’s not quite true. She does offer a link: “according to a recent economic analysis” in Forbes magazine she claims as proof that Net Neutrality regulation suppressed expansion of the internet. I tried to visit the link several times. It goes to gibberish. When I search Forbes (a publication of “Center Right” bias) for articles on Net Neutrality I come up only with articles in favor of the Net Neutrality regulations.

It seems she has been sipping the Kool-Aid of her corporate backers. Perhaps she believes her own rhetoric. Perhaps she believes she “support(s) an open internet.” But we ought not to believe her until she either submits or supports a viable bill in the House that actually keeps the internet open and free. Until then, and until we get to examine it, her “support” is nothing more than hot air from the Mistress of Messaging.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Background: On May 16 the Senate passed S.J.Res. 52 “disapproving” Ajit Pai’s Federal Election Commission’s ruling dismantling the Obama era Net Neutrality regulations. It now goes to the House, where Republicans need to feel the heat. S.J.Res. 52 passed the Senate without facing a filibuster because those are the rules of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) under which S.J.Res. 52 was passed. It also bypassed the old bullfrog’s, Mitch McConnell’s, stranglehold on what comes to the floor of the Senate. The procedures are a bit complicated. You can read them here on page 14. I think a separate “discharge petition” (i.e. one in the House) would be required for McMorris Rodgers to actually face a vote on the House version of S.J.Res. 52. Without a discharge petition the Republican chair will “sit on” the legislation until it dies, and even if the bill escaped the committee Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) would refuse to bring it to the floor of the House. Hence, it is an uphill battle in the House. If it did somehow miraculously pass the House it would then go to Trump–and he is likely to veto, but, who knows what he might do on any given day?? Regardless of all that, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight McMorris Rodgers’ and her Republican colleagues’ sellout on this issue. Repealing Net Neutrality is deeply unpopular with voters. Don’t let her get away with the obfuscation she offers in her “I support an open internet.” It is BS.


If you’ve just signed up for the MWF 5AM Indivisible email written by Jerry LeClaire, you’ve arrived at the right place.

This website is a work in progress. It serves as an archive of my writing. I send an email between 4:45 and 5:15AM each MWF. Depend on it. If you’re signed up to receive it and it doesn’t appear in your inbox check your Spam folder and your Promotions folder. If you still cannot find it please let me know at  I’ve learned that email is not the sure thing I once thought it was.

I hope you find what I write useful.

Keep to the high ground,


Citizens United–Part I

Dear Group,

“Citizen’s United” is the short form of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Citizen’s United prevailed in a  5-4 Supreme Court decision handed down January 21st, 2010. Fix that date in your mind. When most Americans hear “Citizens United” they  think about money in politics. Some others might think of free speech and the First Amendment, others of corporate personhood.

So what is “Citizens United?” You might think of upright average Americans united against some perceived injustice, a grassroots sort of organization with lofty, high-minded goals. Well, not quite. As a 501(c)(4) non-profit Citizens United does not disclose its donors, so its claim of “grassroots” is unverifiable. Its current webpage reads like the Trump platform. David Bossie has been president of Citizen’s United since 2000, except for a stint as deputy manager of the Trump campaign. Bossie is a longtime friend of Trump, Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway. Bossie introduced Bannon to Trump.

David Bossie also heads Citizens United Productions (organized as a corporation?). Citizens United Productions has made twenty-five anti-liberal, anti-Democrat political documentaries. One of these, Hillary: The Movie, Citizens United purposefully proposed to air immediately before the Democratic Primary in 2008 (Clinton/Obama) in violation of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, the last legislative effort to try to curb the influence of big money in politics. The timing of this proposed movie airing was no accident. The possibility of a 5-4 decision at the Supreme Court reversing an essential part of McCain-Feingold was a tantalizing goal. The setup succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the folks who set it up. More on that in Part II.

The next time you hear “Citizens United,” do not succumb to the image of a mass of common citizens seeking to assert their First Amendment rights. The name was no doubt chosen to obscure the agenda of its backers and hangers-on. Think David Bossie, Steve Bannon, and big money seeking control of the system, think of the culmination of a long running war between Republican/Libertarian money and Democratic efforts reduce the effect of that money.

McMorris Rodgers must approve of efforts to keep corporate money flowing into politics and to obscure the origin of the cash. Yesterday I detailed her vote for H.R.5053 – “Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act of 2016.” It passed the House but stalled in the Senate. It would have forbidden the IRS to require names of substantial donors to non-profits, reducing IRS effectiveness and darkening non-profit money even further. In 2010 McMorris Rodgers voted no with her Party on the DISCLOSE ACT, a detailed attempt to close the floodgates Citizens United had just opened. Surely if asked whether she supports the Citizens United decision she would utter her nervous laugh and pivot, but she and her comrades speak volumes with their votes.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Researching the money behind Citizens United is challenging. It appears that one man, David Bossie, heads several different entities. For example, Citizens United is identified as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. Citizens United Productions, I suspect (but have been unable to confirm), may be organized as a corporation. Then there is CITIZENS UNITED SUPER PAC LLC and CITIZENS UNITED POLITICAL VICTORY FUND. The latter is a traditional “qualified” political action committee, the former is obviously a superPAC. You can explore their donors at those links (, but that tells you nothing about the financial backing of Citizens United the nonprofit or Citizens United Productions, the suspected corporation. I recommend Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” (2016) for a background exploration of the money and personalities of the backers. Warning: Don’t read Dark Money at bedtime. You won’t sleep well.

The Big Money Twenty–CMR on the Roster

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers just received a new distinction: End Citizens United just added her to their Big Money 20, the Congresspeople most owned by corporate and mega-wealthy interests. Click the link, scroll to McMorris Rodgers photo at the bottom of the list. Click the photo there and you will find a trove of very specific information with solid links to texts of bills and voting records. 

Having just concluded a three part examination of McMorris Rodgers campaign committees called “Cathy’s Coffers,” the End Citizens United Big Money 20 designation couldn’t have been more timely. 

Today I want to look at just one of McMorris Rodgers’ votes brought up by End Citizens United,

H.R.5053 – Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act of 2016. In my view there is no better example of her commitment to big money.

Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016) lays out in excruciating, densely referenced detail the forty year effort of the Charles and David Koch to bend the Republican party to their Libertarian, Ayn Rand-ian view of the world and how it should operate. They and their donor group systematically established a network of non-profit “think” tanks aimed and steering the political mindset of the electorate toward their own. 

The use of non-profit organizations was, of course, the stuff of evil genius. Non-profits in general don’t have to disclose their donors publicly, hence the designation “dark money,” [Take note we are now talking about the “Non-profits” circle in the Roadmap below. We are STILL not discussing SuperPACs.] 

However, and this is key, although not necessarily publicly available, since 1988 the IRS has required non-profits to disclose donors of more than $5000 to the IRS. It should be no surprise that the Koch brothers and their donor group are anxious to rid themselves of this encumbrance to their efforts fund their “think” tanks with untraceable dollars. 

So what better method than a bill named H.R.5053 – Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act of 2016? What would better protect “Free Speech” than the ability to disguise your contribution to, for example, Americans For Prosperity. If you cannot anonymously contribute mega-dollars to an organization that advocates free market economics then you’re not free, right? Poor dears, I guess their “free speech” requires them to be able to operate in the dark. Will their next effort be to take down the Federal Elections Commission website?

You only need to get past the title of the Act to read what it intends to do. It is written in plain, bald-faced english:

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring that the identity of contributors to 501(c) organizations be included in annual returns.

On June 14, 2016, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 238 other Republicans and 1 Democrat voted in favor of this travesty and passed it out of the House. I guess they assumed that voters would only read the Title H.R. 5053 and not make to the first sentence and understand the meaning. How do they justify this? It made no news I was aware of at the time. Was it marketed as part of their “roll back regulation” agenda?

I have thought for some time that the history of campaign finance in the last hundred years has been by and large the history of Democrats and some old-school Republicans puts sensible rules in place and more recent Republican/Libertarian efforts to tear down or circumvent those rules. This is a good example. 

If I didn’t already believe that McMorris Rodgers is in the pocket of the Koch brothers and the mega-wealthy, her vote on  H.R.5053 – Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act of 2016 would be incontrovertible proof.

(That said, I doubt she admits this truth even to herself.)

Keep to the high ground,


A Roadmap for understanding campaign finance

This diagram is from a 2014 interactive article in the NYTimes. It is a great place to start understanding the effect of money in our politics. The limits on contributions are indexed to inflation, so the illustrated limits are now higher, e.g. $5400 can be given directly to a Candidate’s election committee ($2700 for the Primary and $2700 for the General election), and a conventional political action committee (PAC) can receive $5000 from an individual donor. 

Cathy’s Coffers Part I, CMR For Congress

A Roadmap for understanding campaign finance

This diagram is from a 2014 interactive article in the NYTimes. It is a great place to start understanding the effect of money in our politics. The limits on contributions are indexed to inflation, so the illustrated limits are now higher, e.g. $5400 can be given directly to a Candidate’s election committee ($2700 for the Primary and $2700 for the General election), and a conventional political action committee (PAC) can receive $5000 from an individual donor. 

Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress campaign fund receipts for January 1,2017 to March 31, 2018

Dear Group,

When the Spokesman periodically reports campaign contributions to McMorris Rodgers and Lisa Brown the numbers come from the Federal Election Commission ( Donations and expenditures are supposed to be transparent. I suppose they actually are, but transparency is only useful if you look…and trying to understand the data at is a time consuming and bewildering task. 

The balance sheet for CMR for Congress displayed above says volumes. Who does McMorris Rodgers serve? If you click “Itemized individual contributions” you’ll find that 1368 unique individual contributions make up that 877K. For reference, Lisa Brown, in six months less time (just since July 1, 2017) has 1864 individual contributions totaling about the same amount of money, 834K. Clearly, Lisa has many more contributors but on average they contribute smaller sums.

Then look at “Other committee contributions” for McMorris Rodgers. That $1,081,720 consists of 517 contributions from Political Action Committees. Click on the number on the page Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress and you can browse them. They are almost all corporate PACs. Names like BNSF, Comcast, AT&T, ConocoPhillips, and Halliburton are among those that pop out. Take note that Lisa Brown has announced she will decline money from corporate PACs.

Then look at “TRANSFERS FROM OTHER AUTHORIZED COMMITTEES.” There, properly filtered, you find 333 unique individual contributions, only 38 of which come from the whole of Washington State. 286 of the 333 are for more than $500. Hmmm. The highest number you see in the list is $2700. That’s the legal maximum for a single election.  It’s hard to buy a lot of influence with $2700 in a field where there is so much money. We’ll address that issue tomorrow when we look at the PAC through which these 333 contributions are funneled.

The Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress campaign summary sheet above shows, with a bit of dissection, something around a million dollars in corporate PAC contributions and another nearly a half million in contributions that are mostly from folks outside of Washington State. That is more than half of the total balance sheet of $2.7 million. It will buy quite a lot. Remember, though, these are just the funds under McMorris Rodgers’ direct control. This is the money she can deploy directly as the incumbent to pursue re-election. It is only a fraction of the money that will slosh around eastern Washington in the next six months on her behalf.

How, if you have the extra money, do you manage to buy more influence? More tomorrow.

Keep to the high ground,