Sen. Jon Tester before the tragic events of Operation Mayhem
Back in 2010, Montana’s Senator Jon Tester voted in favor of the Dodd-Frank Act and its authorization of the federal government to create a fiduciary rule. The fiduciary rule is dry, but it’s important. Generally understand as a response to financial advisors’ tendency, before the 2008 crisis, to push clients toward investments that paid high commissions rather than ones that suited their needs, the fiduciary rule would require advisors to put their clients’ financial success ahead of their own.
That makes sense, especially after you’ve watched subprime mortgage derivatives wreck the world economy. Lawyers are required to prioritize their clients’ interests, and so are clinicians. Maybe that’s why the fiduciary rule is overwhelmingly popular—except, of course, with the financial services industry. It has also recently become unpopular with Sen. Tester, who joined Republicans in attempting to block implementation of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule last month.
In unrelated news, the financial industry has donated $2.3 million to Sen. Tester this year, bringing his career receipts from that sector to $3 million. Maybe he just wanted to give us all an object lesson in how conflicts fiduciary of interest work. Either he has reaped monetary benefits at the expense of the Montanans whose civic investment he manages, or he knows a really good reason why the fiduciary rule is bad that he should explain to us right away. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. I’m going to make scrambled eggs and oatmeal for lunch, because I’m sick, and I demand pastes.
Max Baucus (D–MT,) chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
Earlier this month, the Times reported that the last-minute fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate included a provision that would delay Medicare price controls on certain drugs used in kidney dialysis, including Sensipar. Most senators did not know about the earmark, which was apparently added by aides just before the final vote and will cost the federal government $500 million. Sensipar is made by Amgen. In addition to being the world’s largest biotechnology corporation, Amgen is also a campaign contributor to Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D–MT,) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) and Finance Committee member Orrin Hatch (R–UT.) The company’s registered lobbyists included former chiefs of staff for both Baucus and McConnell.
A tech savvy voter determines the next President of the United States.
If Nate Silver is to be believed—and if he is not, pretty much all is lost—FiveThirtyEight blog is running 40,000 election simulations per day. In 50% of those simulations, the candidate who wins Ohio wins the presidency. Silver makes a compelling case that Romney needs Ohio to complete his (editorial opinion alert) baffling comeback; he can get to the White House by other routes, but each is more tortuous than the last. One major provider of electronic voting machines to Ohio is Hart Intercivic. One major investor in Hart Intercivic is HIG Capital, seven of whose directors are former employees of Bain & Co. Four of HIG’s directors are Romney bundlers, and the company has contributed over $300,000 to the Romney campaign.
But Mr. Hartounian said, "Don't be a putz—see the world. Me you've seen already."
This week, casino magnate Sheldon Anderson gave $10 million to the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future. We could talk for a long time about how weird and creepy the name “Restore Our Future” is, but that’s time we could better spend returning our anticipation of the years to come to conformity with our previous expectations. That’s what Adelson is doing. So far, he’s given $35 million to Republican Super PACs this election, and he says he’s prepared to spend as much as $100 million. Twenty million already went to Newt Gingrich, who failed in his bid to become the nation’s first homunculus president. Now Adelson must settle for Romney, who is like the body without the homunculus inside.
Thomas Nast's famous cartoon depicting the Tammany Ring
The foregoing quote comes from Ellen S. Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, speaking to the New York Times about Super PAC donors. Tuesday did not just give us the primary that sealed the Republican nomination; it was also the day that various super PACs disclosed their funding, sort of. America’s bold experiment in calling money speech has yielded roughly eleventy gajillion dollars for both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, although Romney seems to have netted slightly more. A lot of his donors are whom you’d expect: a coal company, a lobbyist for Altria, Haley Barbour’s nephew. Others are a little trickier, including a quarter million dollars from a corporation “with a post office box for a headquarters and no known employees.” Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his