How bad is the perfidy, betrayal, and duplicity within the Republican Party? Beyond Orwellian.
Last Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the American Action Network (AAN), a rabidly pro-amnesty political action committee with ties to John Boehner and Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 51%) is airing a half-million dollars’ worth of television ads in the districts of 30 Freedom Caucus members urging them to support #RINOcare. The ads perpetuate the lie that the GOP bill repeals Obamacare and insinuate that conservative members who want to keep their promise are somehow opposing repeal of Obamacare. Yet, this is just par for the course for a PAC and a broader movement whose entire funding stream, ideology, and motivation is built upon deception.
The AAN is affiliated with the official GOP leadership PAC and is full of former Boehner staffers and #NeverTrumpers (people who opposed Trump from the left). These are people who have done everything in their power to undermine Trump’s immigration and national security agenda, yet their ads use Trump’s name to promote something that is antithetical to what he originally ran on. As one House Republican told me, “The previous head of AAN, Mike Shields, is engaged to Reince Priebus's deputy Katie Walsh." One has to wonder how close the working relationship between Priebus and Ryan is working to mislead the president and poison the well with conservatives.
But it gets worse.
Where does AAN’s money come from?
From 2010-2014, AAN’s biggest single donor has been the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which has given them $6.2 million. Donations since 2014 have not yet been disclosed. While there is no way to verify at this point if the funding for these particular ads came from an out-the-door new infusion of cash from Big Pharma, it is safe to say that AAN receives so much money from Big Pharma precisely because they will promote the agenda of the status quo.
So, who is the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America trade association? Well, they are literally “Big Pharma.”
PhRMA is a typical Republican-leaning lobby shop and industry trade association. By Republican I mean, they donate roughly 56% to Republicans, give money to a lot of individual Democrats, but the bulk of the committee donations are to GOP-linked committees. However, they also, like many GOP lobbyists, donate to left-wing causes like the Gay and Lesbian Fund.
Also, like every Republican-leaning lobby shop, they donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012. But who did they support in 2016? Yup, they gave $13,000 to Hillary Clinton and nothing to Donald Trump.
Now, why do you think a pharmaceutical lobby would donate to Hillary over Trump? Is it because they agree with her more on sexual identity politics? It’s Obamacare, of course! They clearly want the status quo, albeit a steady stream of bailouts to go along with it.
This same lobby shop that donated to Hillary for president, but also funded Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 51%), Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (F, 40%), and the AAN (which is running ads against Obamacare opponents) also spent nearly $20 million on lobbying in 2016, more than the next two largest pharmaceutical lobbies — Amgen and Pfizer — combined. In the same year, they gave almost an identical l amount to Hillary for president as GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R, Calif. (F, 35%).
What does this all say? Big industry lobbyists aligned with GOP leaders who lobby for government-run health care are precisely the forces that never wanted Trump as president. They oppose repeal of Obamacare. Yet, they are the biggest donor of AAN, which is now running ads in support of a bill that keeps Obamacare despite deceitfully selling the bill as an Obamacare repeal bill. These #NeverTrumpers are attacking members of Congress who stood by Trump by asking them to support RINOcare, which betrays Trump’s own election promise!
This is not the first time AAN was dispatched by leadership to target conservatives with deceptive ads designed to promote an antithetical agenda to their stated mission. In March 2015, they spent hundreds of thousands on ads targeting Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla. (A, 97%) and other House conservatives who opposed amnesty. At the time, there was so much backlash in Bridenstine’s district against the K Street amnesty PAC that they were forced to pull the ads.
As we’ve chronicled here many times, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and other establishment Republicans refuse to run on their true agenda in the primaries. In fact, they run on a conservative agenda while painting conservative opponents as liberals. They will run ads promising to repeal Obamacare “root and branch,” even though they are receiving cash from the health care industry precisely because it has long been known in Washington that they will not repeal the leviathan.
Establishment Republicans will never wear their team jersey while seeking your vote. They can’t stand on the veracity of their views or those of their donors. Instead, they will steal our jersey and attempt to toss their dirty laundry on good and honest men. It’s time the president recognize that this dirty tactic is being employed by the very Republicans who opposed him.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.