John Boehner and the Freedom Project

by Karoli on September 18, 2009 · 17 comments

John Boehner
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I’ve been busy working on a project involving FEC and IRS filings for political action committees and astroturf organizations, and while researching, I fell into the FEC filing for Minority Leader John Boehner‘s PAC, The Freedom Project. The Freedom Project is described this way on their website:

The Freedom Project 1) provides direct financial assistance to Republican candidates for federal office; 2) supports the travel of Congressman Boehner on behalf of Republican candidates across the country; and 3) maintains FreedomProject.org — a web-based clearinghouse for Republican activism featuring online fundraising and grassroots tools, and regular updates on key races and critical issues. The Freedom Project’s online disclosure information is available at FEC.gov.

Since they invited me to look at their FEC filings, I did. The nice thing about the FEC is that reports are required to be made monthly, so information is pretty fresh and full of timely, interesting things.

2009 Donors (Partial List)

$5,000 Gold Donors (Partial List)

  • Abbott Laboratories Employees’ PAC
  • AFLAC PAC
  • Altria Group, Inc. PAC
  • American Council of Life Insurers PAC
  • American Dental Association PAC
  • American Express Company PAC
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants PAC
  • American Physical Therapy Institute PAC
  • Americas Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) PAC
  • Amgen, Inc. PAC
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Bank of America Corporation PAC
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield PAC
  • Capital One Financial Corp. Assoc. PAC
  • College of Clinical Pathologists PAC
  • Davita, Inc. (Kidney Dialysis)
  • Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America PAC
  • Koch Industries, Inc. PAC
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company PAC
  • Medco Health Solutions, Inc. PAC
  • Merck & Co., Inc. Employees PAC
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. PAC
  • New York Life Insurance Co. PAC
  • Novartis Corp PAC
  • Roche Inc. Good Government PAC
  • Wellpoint, Inc. PAC
  • Zeneca, Inc. PAC

Keep in mind, that’s a partial list, and yes, I chose the insurance and pharma donors from the list, though it would have been as simple to make this a list of banks, finance companies, oil and gas concerns, telecommunications companies or retailers.

Through July, 2009, The Freedom Project has received $599,750 from PACs such as the ones I’ve listed above, along with $168,492 from individuals. Some of those individuals include Stephen Clark of Clark and Associates, Mark Dion of Revolution Media Group, LLC, John Fish (RJR VP), Bruce Gates and Michael Szymanczyk (Altria VP and Chairman, respectively), and Michael Oxley (Partner, Baker & Hostettler). Those are just a few names. There are lots of insurance agents, and other industry executives on the list.

The Project has sent $5,000 to other Republicans’ election committees, including the one supporting Joe Wilson’s re-election bid. Altogether, $213,412 has been passed along to Republican candidates around the country.

Even more interesting: some of the expenditures in July, 2009, particularly those which do not appear to be consistent with the stated purpose of supporting Republican candidates, maintaining FreedomProject.org, or supporting John Boehner’s ‘travel around the country’. Let’s see now….

2009 Expenses (Partial List)

  • $4,009.40 – Bobby Van’s (7/2009)
  • $5,000.00 – Disney Resort Destinations(7/2009)
  • $ 600.00 – Hampton Inn, NC (7/2009)
  • $3,035.23 – Morton’s of Arlington (7/2009)
  • $1,445.40 – Rosa Mexicano (7/2009)
  • $2,695.95 – The Caucus Room (7/2009)
  • $3,900.21 – The Greenbrier (WV)(7/2009)
  • $4,363.44 – Rosa Mexicano (6/2009)
  • $ 887.44 – SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills (5/6/2009 Mr. Boehner was here)
  • $ 750.00 – Rosa Mexicano
  • $20,816.65 – Ritz Carlton Naples (FL)(5/6/2009)
  • $3,450.73 – Hyatt Hotels Chesapeake
  • $4,345.13 – Acadiana (Washington, DC)
  • That’s just a couple of month’s worth. That Ritz Carlton bill would’ve paid my health insurance for a year, for example. Don’t forget — these are tax-exempt organizations, so that list of expenses went to wine and dine whoever…and put them up in some really posh hotels…on the taxpayer’s dime.

    Related entities

    Just because it amuses me to point out who is related to whom: Some tidbits from the organization statement on file with the FEC.

    The Freedom Project has a related entity called “Americans for a Conservative Course.” That entity collects contributions, pays expenses, disburses funds for 2 or more committees which are not candidate committees. Here are those committees, in addition to The Freedom Project:

    • For Americas Republican Majority PAC
    • Next Century Fund
    • Republican Majority Fund

    The assistant treasurer of Americans for a Conservative Course is Ted Koch, principal in the firm of Koch & Hoos, LLC. Koch & Hoos specializes in the accounting and setup of PAC/527 groups like Stop Her Now, a committee funded to attack Hillary Clinton when she was the junior senator from New York, the Tommy Thompson for President 2008 committee, and the really awful attack ads funded by the National Republican Trust at the end of last years election against Jim Martin in Georgia. These ads.

    Boehner’s organization is a front for lavish retreats and auctions to the highest lobbyist, and it should be reported as such. (h/t Rachel Maddow).

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    • http://twitter.com/avivagabriel avivagabriel

      It ain't free. FreedomProject.org is a pretty spiffy way to 'launder' fancy parties & hotels for Boehner & buddies: http://im.ly/73d2f By .@Karoli

    • kmilyun

      I knew I was in the wrong business – that of being rather short of funds . …

    • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

      Now you know the answer….just offer yourself as a 'grassroots advocate', get in the money loop, and you, too can head to Disney. Maybe they'll even pay your health insurance. :)

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    • http://momocrats.typepad.com/ Cynematic

      I'll go one further–when we overpay private, unregulated insurers $0.27/$1.00 (as compared to public option projected overheads of $.03/$1.00), we're paying into the giant health insurance industry slush fund that pays for lobbyists to wine & dine Congress against our interests.

      So if the public option passes and forces private health insurance companies to compete, for once, in a true free market scenario rather than floating along as one of a protected monopoly, then we'll be de-funding insurers, their lobbyists, and their Dem & Rep flunkies in Congress.

      More of your $1.00 premium will actually go to your health care.

      I think I like the public option even more now.

    • http://twitter.com/mfpdx mfpdx

      How the hell are entities like Ritz Carlton “tax exempt”? Or do you mean their donations……oh, I'm so confused, ok, Freedom Project is tax exempt……then I'll ask Why the hell our worthless critters [congress] continue to get elected while allowing hyper partisan entities to be exempted from taxes?!

      And we wonder WHY we're so screwed up……WTH #HarryReid & @NancyPelosi don't U all stop this, PLEASE?!?

    • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

      Yeah, it's confusing. Freedom Project is a PAC. Funds contributed may flow through the PAC for just about anything from hotel rooms to mass mailings. (and they do). That Ritz Carlton bill is characterized as “hotel expense”, which could be anything from the rental of the facility for a fundraiser to hotel/travel expenses for John Boehner. Either way, it represents (to me, anyway) folks living the high life while the rest of us suck canal water, and it certainly doesn't seem very 'conservative'.

    • http://twitter.com/mfpdx mfpdx

      Ok thanks, that is exactly what i thought you were saying. This is why it is so important to stop this practice, and yet, it isn't going to happen in my lifetime. How sad. Thing is Karoli, while I get called partisan, and I AM, I STILL am more than willing to vote out my OWN critters [Reps in congress] if I find them voting with the money……even though they are BOTH Liberals who I like – ALOT.

      I don't like those who feel “entitled” to OUR money and then turn around and screw us so they can take even more…….partisan or no. Most of the liberals/progressives I know ARE willing to let theirs go to have this stop…..too bad I can't say that for conservative partisans.

      At least not the one's “I've” come across.

    • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

      I agree with you. I just don't know how to do it. I've been wrestling this beast for the past few months, and for the past 6 weeks I've been working on trying to track it, and organize the tracking in a way that makes sense to others. But even then, it's not real-time. It's after the fact, buried in arcane disclosure databases and scattered over a zillion different sites. What I want: a tool that I can employ to track the flow of $ in near real-time…assuming the FEC doesn't kill all reporting entirely. Or the Supreme Court. :(

    • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

      I agree with you. I just don't know how to do it. I've been wrestling this beast for the past few months, and for the past 6 weeks I've been working on trying to track it, and organize the tracking in a way that makes sense to others. But even then, it's not real-time. It's after the fact, buried in arcane disclosure databases and scattered over a zillion different sites. What I want: a tool that I can employ to track the flow of $ in near real-time…assuming the FEC doesn't kill all reporting entirely. Or the Supreme Court. :(

    • Anonymous

      Investing always involves more questions than answers, and the idea that Wall Street has those answers and that they washington mutual bank locations are imbedded in the products that they market to the “moneyed” public, is simply part of the brainwashing of the American investor. So, too, is the myth that Mutual Funds are a safer investment mechanism than a properly constructed portfolio of individual securities. Perhaps they should be, in concept. In reality, they haven’t been for decades.

    • Carolina

      Karoli I found your post as I started to do some background on John Boehner, who I have despised ever since I worked for a Cincinnati based company that forced me cough up a couple of hundred dollars to contribute to his campaign or lose my job (the consequences were finessed but quite clear). It mystifies me that there aren't more people looking into the fiscal and financial excesses and abuses of career politicos like Boehner–but of course the answer is that politicians get nervous making accusations of behavior that they themselves are guilty of.

      This was prompted by what's happening in France right now–the press is going after the behavior of government officials big time on the subject of–as you put it–”living the high life while the rest of us suck canal water”. Why doesnt' the traditional press cover that subject better here? Perhaps because they're all staying at the Ritz too?

    • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

      Your last question is your answer. Well, that and the weird thinking that the minority party players are somehow untouchable from any and all criticism. The New York Times admitted last week that they alter how they report topics based upon what party is in power. I think that's really a horrible statement about how our so-called “mainstream” media is wired, don't you?

    • http://www.naplesnet.com/ Naples Florida

      Yes you are right about how investing really works. A lot of questions because it deals with a big amount of money wherein you as the investor don’t want for that money to be invested without gaining good profit from it.

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