If Arizona’s Senate seat is going to turn blue in the 2020 special election, Mark Kelly seems like the perfect Democratic candidate to make it happen.
GOP Sen. Martha McSally is a combat veteran? Oh yeah, Kelly is, too. He’s also an astronaut. He’s also the husband of Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona representative who was shot by a mentally ill man and became a high-profile campaigner for gun control.
And, like any good Democrat, Kelly also has abandoned a self-declared principled stand against taking political action committee money.
Early in his run, he made it clear he thought corporate PACs were, to quote Orwell’s Newspeak, doubleplusungood.
“One of the biggest problems in our politics today is the amount of corporate PAC money in politics,” Kelly tweeted in August. “That’s why I refuse to take a dime from corporate PACs to fund my campaign. I will always fight #ForArizona families, not special interests.”
One of the biggest problems in our politics today is the amount of corporate PAC money in politics. That’s why I refuse to take a dime from corporate PACs to fund my campaign. I will always fight #ForArizona families, not special interests.
— Captain Mark Kelly (@CaptMarkKelly) August 16, 2019
Even then, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee knew he was a hypocrite:
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) August 16, 2019
It wasn’t just Republicans, either.
“It’s kind of weird, though, to say you’re not taking corporate PAC money, but then also directly taking corporate PAC money into your personal account,” Democratic Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego said in an interview with The Intercept. “I don’t understand why [you would] even take that pledge if you’re not personally living that.”
Since declaring for the 2020 election, Kelly has amassed $290,400 in speaking fees, including from clients like Goldman Sachs, Optum and the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Oh, if they only knew what was to come. But I’m getting ahead of myself considering the fact that Kelly was still lambasting corporate PACs.
“I think Washington, D.C., is failing the state of Arizona on these things, and there’s structural problems with the way our system is set up,” Kelly said in a November interview, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“As an example, corporate PAC money in our political system makes it so hard for people to get elected to Congress to do what they think is right instead of doing what some company wants. That’s why I’m not taking corporate PAC money.”
Well, don’t worry. He’s not technically taking money from corporate PACs. He’s just being dishonest about how he’s getting those sweet, sweet corporate PAC bucks.
“While Kelly isn’t directly taking money from corporate PACs, his campaign is still benefiting from a loophole by which leadership PACs serve as a pass-through for corporate cash,” The Free Beacon reported.
“The retired astronaut received over a dozen donations in September from leadership PACs, including the Country Roads and Blue Hen PACs. The donations ranged from $2,500 to $5,000.”
Blue Hen PAC is associated with Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. It’s received corporate donations from Bank of America, Google, Microsoft, Comcast and AT&T for 2020.
Country Roads PAC, meanwhile, is Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s PAC, the recipient of donations from Altria, Comcast, General Motors and Northrop Grumman.
But wait! There’s more.
“Since announcing his candidacy, Kelly’s campaign has received more than $140,000 from leadership PACs, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D., N.Y.) Impact PAC, which is funded by corporate PAC donations from Facebook, Bank of America, Delta Air Lines, Google, and Goldman Sachs. Impact made two $5,000 donations to Kelly’s campaign in May,” The Free Beacon reported.
The Western Journal reached out to Kelly’s campaign for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
This isn’t going to hurt Kelly one bit since no one’s going to enforce a purity test on Democrats if they can turn both seats in Arizona blue in the space of two years (and beat Martha McSally both times while they’re at it).
For that matter, don’t expect Kelly to stop repeating this pledge. McSally may challenge him on it — and it’s not going to induce a single Democrat to stay home.
Also, it’s not like he’ll end up losing his anti-corporate cred. Selling out is a Democrat tradition, especially when you exploit a loophole so you never have to admit that you did.
Let’s hope that Arizona voters have enough information to see through this ruse.
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