Ken Griffin, a Chicago-based hedge fund manager, has given Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner $2.5 million for his campaign. Bruce Rauner is a wealthy businessman from Winnetka, who has self-funded much of his campaign. Rauner said, earlier this year that he supported lowering the state’s minimum wage, however, he flip-flopped on that position, saying he supported increasing it, after receiving a huge backlash for that.
Griffin’s obscene contribution is only possible because of the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions. Before those decisions came to pass, corporations couldn’t raise money and campaign on behalf of any political candidate, and individuals were more limited in what they themselves could donate. The system had loopholes, but Citizens United and McCutcheon made the whole thing considerably worse.
Despite those decisions, Griffin thinks that the wealthy don’t have enough of a voice in politics. That laughable position came out not too long after Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune at that time, Griffin said:
“I think [the wealthy] actually have an insufficient influence. Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet. And so I hope that other individuals who have really enjoyed growing up in a country that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and economic freedom is part of the pursuit of happiness – (I hope they realize) they have a duty now to step up and protect that. Not for themselves, but for their kids and for their grandchildren and for the person down the street that they don’t even know…
At this moment in time, these values are under attack. This belief that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good (is wrong). We’ve seen that experiment. The Soviet Union collapsed. China has run away from its state-controlled system over the last 20 years and has pulled more people up from poverty by doing so than we’ve ever seen in the history of humanity. Why the U.S. is drifting toward a direction that has been the failed of experiment of the last century, I don’t understand.”
While he makes a good point about what the wealthy ought to be doing, supporting Republicans and paling around with the Koch brothers gives the lie to that. The Kochs only care about themselves and their wealth, or they’d voluntarily be on top of keeping their own plants as clean and safe as possible, and they’d champion tighter EPA regulations to force less responsible companies into line to protect our resources and our planet. And the Kochs themselves spend millions of dollars during election season, trying to defeat Democrats, because Republicans are more favorable to big business, and the wealthy.
Griffin’s ability to contribute $2.5 million to any candidate at all is a result of Citizens United and McCutcheon. The Koch brothers’ ability to spend millions on politics is also a result of Citizens United and McCutcheon. This is not what freedom is. This is not democracy. Griffin told the Tribune that he doesn’t expect anything in return for his campaign support, but not all wealthy donors feel that way. The huge donations make politicians feel beholden to their benefactors, whether the benefactors actually expect something in return or not. And thus, we become ruled by the wealthy, instead of by the people.