David Vitter’s VitterPAC has made some news lately, specifically in its attempt to blow the cap off of donations here in Louisiana. But who exactly is behind this thing?
Spies recalls his first political memory as his father — then a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney — was fired when Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976…“The verdict may be out on how helpful super PACs were in the general election,” he said. But “it’s indisputable that in a primary election, it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
So, Spies is the mover behind this, and other, rightwing SuperPACs. But who’s the local connection? Is there one?
First, the Fund’s listed address is 6048 Marshall Foch Street in the Lakeview part of New Orleans. That’s strange for a number of reasons, most notably because the fund obviously resides in Washington, DC (see the DC lawyer, Spies, and the ‘202’ area code on their phone number). Hmmm.
Who lives at 6048 Marshall Foch Street? It seems to be this man, on the left in the blazer, Bill Callihan. From the internets, we find that he is a Director at Capital One bank. Perhaps a fiscal agent for the fund? Not so fast.
This statement of organization from the IRS shows that Spies is the Treasurer/Chairman and that the fund uses “Chain Bridge Bank” in McLean, VA. That’s the Dick Cheney part of Virginia, somewhat close to the CIA headquarters.
So, Callihan is, at the very least, “housing” the organization in Louisiana in order to give the appearance that it isn’t just a total DC-based operation parachuting into LA to elect David Vitter Governor.
As these things go, they’re supposed to be opaque. The entire concept of these “SuperPAC’s” is to obscure the origin of the money on which they feast. The Federal sides can already take unlimited donations. VItterPAC is working dilligently on making sure they can take unlimited contributions to use for a LAGOV race (i.e. a non-Federal, Louisiana-only campaign). Currently, while Federal law allows multi-million dollar cheques to be written without constraint, Louisiana election law says that money PAC raised for state races is limited to cheques of $100,000 at a time. VitterPAC hopes to change this forever.
Back to this mysterious siting. The New Orleans address is, in and of itself, not illegal or even that unusual. However, since VitterPAC operates under the shroud of secrecy afforded to it by IRS code, it will always generate the requisite level of mystery. Why here? And why in New Orleans? Worth watching.
Simultaneously, it is pure charade that VitterPAC claims it won’t be “coordinating” with a potential David Vitter LAGOV run. Of course, this is the joke of our election law today. As Stephen Colbert smartly broke down, SuperPACs are a lie we tell ourselves in politics. The rules are a joke. They’re easy to bend and shred. Candidates can appear at fundraisers for their supporting SuperPAC’s, but they can’t say the words “give us money.” Instead, they can just appear as a guest and folks are supposed to believe that this maintains the Chinese wall.
Whatever the case, we hope the media looks more closely at VitterPAC. Unlimited money in politics is a fundamental corruption. Louisiana’s been able to avoid it up until now. But once the seal is broken, the genie cannot be placed back into the bottle.