Saturday, October 20, 2018

Anonymous mailer attacks Jeff Golden

Watermelon splat.


A pointless attack mailer. Someone has money to burn.


And it stretches so hard to accuse Jeff Golden of something that it probably helps him. 

1971
[See it yourself at the bottom of this post.]

Voters got an attack mailer this week. Some political interest group thought to take a couple of words out of a journal Jeff Golden wrote as a twenty year old in 1971, which got published as a book. The ad turned those words into a charge that Golden is "Wrong on Women." 

What a stretch.

The book got briefly into the news back when Golden was a County Commissioner. Some Medford business leaders closely associated with the Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce had organized a recall campaign against then-Commissioner Golden. The book had a photo of its author, looking young and long haired, and they ran ads against Golden using that photo. Look! Long hair!

Golden’s book described his observations during a summer laboring on a collective farm in Georgia growing watermelons.

Note the verb tense in the ad: "Jeff Golden has a very particular idea for women in the workplace," and "What is Jeff Golden thinking," the ad says. The very sentence they quote makes clear he was describing a situation created by others (female socialization) not that he was endorsing it, then or now.

It is an unusually un-persuasive hit piece. 



The more interesting question is who created it

Jeff Golden
Perhaps The Leadership Fund. This is the PAC with the 
responsibility for electing Republicans to the State Senate. They are a prime suspect because they made attacks like this one in the past, and they just reported an in-kind contribution of $10,000 to the Gomez campaign. Moreover, The Leadership Fund's Political Director is personally promoting this line of attack. Evan Ridley sent me three emails on October 17 passing along rumors "from what I've heard," which he then expressed as fact, "Golden's history of degrading women." and saying he cannot find the evidence that he is sure was there, calling it "censorship" and "unacceptable." He said this makes him suspicious so he says this "certainly needs to be discussed in public."

He cannot deny his emails but flatly denies that his GOP PAC is the author of this mailer, and said the in-kind contribution was for a survey, not this ad.

Perhaps the No Supermajorities PAC. They did a survey earlier this year that included negative statements about Golden, hoping to see which ones motivated voters. They certainly have motive and opportunity.

Perhaps the Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce PAC, which has been receiving chunks of money from the Jordan Cove pipeline owners that are out of scale from previous contributions to them. The ChamberPAC then promptly passed that money along to candidates as they received it. Gomez is up to $27,000 now. The Chamber PAC has a windfall of money, motive to elect Gomez, and a history of Chamber members using the Watermelon Summer book as a source for attacks against Golden. The Chamber has sent mixed signals on their Jordan Cove contributions, which they have not yet clarified. 

Perhaps someone else.  It could be anybody, choosing to do mailers that look like all the other mailers sent by GOP PACs.

Here we go again.

Newspaper editorial
This is exactly the pattern we have seen in previous cycles, when GOP PACS created attack mailers against then-Senator Alan Bates based on old, refutable information. Those ads backfired catastrophically for the public reputations of the Republican candidates. It was miserable for them. Read the editorial.

This ad, however, is harmless to Jeff GoldenThe intent was to smear Golden with innuendo, but the execution was so bad that the ad is more likely to increase library reads of the 47 year old book than it is to cost Golden votes.  

The ad harms Jessica Gomez, a little. She got lucky. Gomez is helped by the fact that the ad is so inept. No harm, no foul. She is associated with a worthless ad, not a nasty one.

But there is a warning for Gomez. This mailer sets a very low standard both of evidence and of intent. This shows she cannot stop her allies from doing personal attack ads. (Neither can Golden. The only difference is that Golden's allies have so far been creating puff pieces on him, not personal smears of Gomez.)

The lack of transparency has a cost, mostly to Gomez. Social media is full of questions and comments about who did the ad, added to questions about Jordan Cove and money-in-money-out to the Medford-Jackson County Chamber PAC. In the absence of information from the PACs, people wonder, and think the worst. That hurts Gomez.

Past history shows that The Leadership Fund and the No Supermajorities PAC will be just fine. They are upstate. This just strengthens their reputation for playing political hardball. They knock heads and play to win. 

The Medford Chamber reputation will thrive, too. Their PAC is now wheeling large hunks of mysterious money. They have money to pass along or spend on ads of their own if they choose. This puts them on the map of big-boy political players. It demonstrates they can make or break local politicians.

There is really only one victim, Jessica Gomez. She is not the author of the sleaze, but she is the intended beneficiary of it. The behavior of her allies reflect mostly on her. 













Friday, October 19, 2018

Amy Thuren to Commissioners: Don't destroy our best farm land.

Amy Thuren

"It isn't just 'livability' we are talking about. It's also our ability to attract and retain businesses here. The farm and rural open space is part of what makes this Southern Oregon, not Southern California." 

                 Amy Thuren, candidate for Jackson County Commissioner



Amy Thuren says the Jackson County Commissioners erred when they approved the application to cover some 80 acres of prime farm land with solar panels.

"This isn't protecting farm land. It is covering it up."

Thuren is a candidate for Position 1 on the County Commission, the office currently held by Rick Dyer, who participated in that decision, voting yes. The decision by the Commissioners was reversed by the State Land Use Board of Appeals. "LUBA did Jackson County the favor I wish the Commissioners had thought to do," Thuren said.

Thuren cites this decision as an example of the different judgement she would bring to the Board of Commissioners.

The decision was controversial because the project is very large and it is on excellent farm ground. This wasn't a few panels to power some equipment. It was completely changing the property, from farm land into a field of solar panels.
Thuren disagrees.

Thuren said converting that land into an industrial use sets a bad precedent and sends a terrible message about the county's commitment to protecting the character of Jackson County. She said it has been state and local policy for forty years to protect farm and forest resource land, and to avoid the pressures of sprawl by defining city areas and open space areas. "The interplay of farm land next to homes--that patchwork--is what makes Jackson County special. We have compact cities and then we have big areas of green." 

Thuren shared these thoughts under a painting by well known artist Frank Rinna, a painting titled titled "Our Valley." Thuren pointed out how the painting captured the spirit of the Valley, preserved by the rules that put homes and businesses in cities, while simultaneously allowing agricultural uses in uninterrupted blocks of land. She said the ability of farmers to farm is reduced when industrial uses get inserted into the agricultural land. Sprawl is bad for farms and bad for city 
people, both, she said. That open green space between our cities and surrounding them is important, Thuren said. "I moved here for the quality of life I didn't think I could get elsewhere. If we start taking away pieces of it, the thing that makes this Valley special disappears. And you'll never get it back."

Thuren points out farm protection.
Thuren hastens to say that she "absolutely supports" solar energy. "It gets us off fossils fuels and we need to be thinking out thirty years to be building that infrastructure."  She said the issue was where fields of solar panels make sense. "Not on prime farm land, which destroys something priceless and changes the character of a whole area."

"I'd like to see them on either end of the airport runways. Nice flat ground. No noise complaints."

Thuren said that putting pockets of industrial uses into farm neighborhoods "reverses everything we have tried to do as a community to protect this as a great place to live and work."

Thuren said she is well aware that land use planning has its critics, but says there is real value in considering the long term consequences of decisions.

This decision to cover up prime farm land with a solar array put the county on a "slippery slope," she said.  
Farming takes scale.

Land use planning is working, and the decisions of thirty five years ago protected land that then got planted into vineyards," she said, "and that is now part of the character of the county. "That character is a draw for businesses and tourists." 

She said she knows where she stands. "Protecting farm land protects what keeps this Valley special."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Jessica Gomez opposes the natural gas pipeline.

Cut to the bottom line. No ambiguity.


Jessica Gomez opposes the Jordan Cove natural gas pipeline.


I asked Jessica Gomez to send me something short, sweet, and clear, describing her position on the Jordan Cove pipeline which would cross Jackson County on its way to the Port of Coos Bay. I had noted that she received campaign contributions from the local Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, which has officially supported the project, and that she is Vice President of the Chamber. 

I asked her to clarify where she personally stood.

She responded with a short, unambiguous comment.

Jessica Gomez: Against the pipeline:

Jessica Gomez, Republican
"I do not support the Jordan Cove Pipeline Connector. The thought of a Canadian based company tearing up pristine Oregon forest in order to provide a steady supply of carbon-based fuel to Japan is very disturbing. I understand the economic arguments in favor of it, but it simply underscores the horrendous job our state has done in supporting economic development and sustainability in our rural communities. Coos Bay has been searching for over a generation now for a way to replace the lost timber revenues from decades ago, but this is not the right way to go about it. 

Regarding campaign contributions, The Chamber Of Medford/Jackson County supports many candidates including Rep. Marsh and three others who not support the Jordan Cove Pipeline."

Thank you so much for the opportunity to set the record straight.

Jessica."



Her comment regarding campaign contributions addresses the Secretary of State's report that the Jordan Cove pipeline people made $70,000 contributions to the local Chamber of Commerce PAC, which then nearly simultaneously added to their contributions to Gomez and other candidates, distributing that money. The Chamber PAC made contributions of $10,000 to Republican candidates Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts for Commissioner, $10,000 to Republican candidate for State Representative Kim Wallan, and an additional $10,000 to Republican Jessica Gomez. They made a $500 contribution to Democrat Pam Walsh.

Gomez is noting that the campaign donations from the Chamber do not appear to be conditional on support for the project. She opposes it.




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Jeff Golden mailers. And more mailers.

A mailer from the a Salem PAC

I have received four mailings from Jeff Golden in five days.


He isn't spending big money. Someone else is spending big money, on Golden's behalf.

It seems weird. I am getting as much stuff from Golden as I see from Gomez. 

The mailers are big. Slick. Stiff paper. They appear to be from the Golden campaign. Nice photo of Jeff from his campaign brochure. Someone is spending some serious money. Support Jeff!

If one looks really closely one sees that actually one of the mailers is from the OEA. The other three are from from Southern Oregon Priorities PAC. The mailers don't say they are independent. They don't say they speak for the candidate or that they don't speak for the candidate. The mailers certainly appear to be directly from the Golden campaign.

The GOP partisans have made accusations: Golden is pretending not to get PAC help, but is letting the upstate PACs do the expensive campaigning  on his behalf. I asked Golden for a statement: 




Statement from Jeff Golden

STOP
           
A group called the Southern Oregon Priorities PAC continues to run ads and send out mailers supporting my election to the state senate.  These flatly ignore my repeated appeals to them, going back to the middle of the primary election (when many of them supported my Democratic primary opponent, who wouldaccept PAC money), to stay out of this senate race. Watching them step up the pace of interference in recent weeks makes it clear that private messages don’t do the trick. Enough is enough.

Two things make me angry about these unwanted ads. 

   1) The damage to democracy.  This goes far beyond one state senate race. It’s  one of the ways we’re losing the power to choose our own representatives.  Organized outside groups are flooding most legislative districts across the country with propaganda ranging from smiley-faced predictable “This Candidate’s Just So Great” mailers to outright lies (none, thankfully, in this race so far). These PACS don’t seem to believe people are competent to pick their own representatives...or don’t want them to. 

   2) The damage to my own campaign. This senate district has a clear history of outside “support” ads defeating the candidate they were supposed to help. That could happen this time, too. My campaign is based on a fierce belief that big special-interest money has corrupted our system, and that its stranglehold has to be broken for us to solve our major problems.  Part of the powerful response to this message is that well over 1200 citizens have stepped up to make individual donations, providing enough funding for us to run a successful campaign.  

    Now this big influx of outside ads have people asking my volunteers “if Golden is supposed to be the no-PAC guy, how come I keep getting and hearing these PAC ads telling me to vote for him?” It understandably gets them wondering if I’m just another trickster.  That, to be honest, is what angers me the most.  

So, one more time to the PAC people upstate, this time in public: stop. Stop pretending that you speak for me (going so far as using photos we shot for my campaign material, and leaving off the standard “This piece not authorized by” disclaimer that would make this slightly more honest). You don’t. You’re part of what’s hurting democracy. You are hurting my campaign.  Whether you believe it or not, people in this district can figure out who they want to send to Salem without your help. I assume you’re hoping to work with me when and if I become a state senator. What you’ve been doing the last few weeks makes that more difficult. 

Stop.



Predictions: Thad Guyer (predicted the Trump victory long before the election.)

Living in interesting times.


The Democrats will likely take the House. The Senate will bet a bit more Republican. Gridlock and tribal animosity: a bad combination.

Frequent Guest Post writer Thad Guyer is an attorney specializing in litigation on behalf of whistleblowing employees. Back in the summer of 2016 Guyer said the data showed that Donal Trump would win election. He nailed it.

I was more cautious but I saw the blue collar male frustration with politically correct walking- on-eggshells. Hillary represented a scolding mother. Behave! Watch your manners!. I saw the stagnation in the upper midwest economies. So I, too, predicted a Trump victory, against nearly all polls and punditry, but not until about ten days before the election. . 

My predictions:

1. Democrats will just barely take the House. There will be no big Blue Wave. 

2. Beto O'Rourke will lose in Texas. It is still a red state. Then he will run for president.

3. Presidential candidates will emerge.
  Elizabeth Warren
  Bernie Sanders
  Jeff Merkley
  Cory Booker
  Kamala Harris
  Deval Patrick
  Beto O'Rourke
  Tim Kayne
  Tom Stayer
  Michael Bloomberg

4. Democrats will look for star quality, not policy. Or a self-funding billionaire. The internet small dollar fundraising ability of a "star" makes the normal wine-and-cheese fundraiser and the big-dollar bundler fundraising unnecessary. Trump did it. Bernie did it. Beto is doing it. The candidate needs to be someone who can raise money that way, or who can self fund. Any candidate who raises money from PACs will force a divide in the left, rekindling the Bernie/Hillary divide.  

Guest Post by Thad Guyer  --  Predictions


A review of a yet-to-be-served Special Meal, to be on the menu immediately after the election of 2018


Thad Guyer
If the predictive models are right, in three weeks Democrats will retake the House but not the Senate.  While winning anything against Trump and the GOP might feel good, a calamity awaits us that will strengthen Trump for his 2020 reelection battle.  If you think it’s bad now, this “tiramisu of garbage” will be even worse.  (Listen podcast, Hysteria, “Tiramisu of Garbage” (Oct 11, 2018, https://crooked.com/podcast/tiramisu-of-garbage).  This will be the menu starting with the new Congressional term:


Amuse-bouche: The media will goad intemperate statements out of Democratic impeachment advocates, who will gladly oblige from the steps of the Capitol. Maxine Waters will delight us all with her dramatic victory calls “Trump, we are comin’ to get you!”.   The House will degenerate into a mosh pit of Democrats wanting quick impeachment despite know the effort will be hopeless in the GOP senate. Democrats will look like lunatics goring themselves on junk food.


Appetizers:  Nothing stimulates the political palate like Democratic internecine warfare, as the long knives come out by progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to oust Nancy Pelosi.  This is going to be especially bitter with flavorings of ageism, sexism and racism.  Over and over we will hear “it is time for old white people to get out of the way, move over your time has passed”. “White males” will have grim countenance from having their urge to fight back in kind muzzled by political correctness. Both the speakership and key committee chairs will be claimed to be off limits to these oldsters. Progressive will look like a racist mob more than ever.


Entre:  Impeachment will be the only main course offered, but with a variety of side dishes depending on which media outlet the clamoring Congressperson is pandering to. While a bunch of senators for the past two years have basked in the chaotic limelight as 2020 primary contenders, at long last it will be the turn of flamboyant House members. It will be unthinkable for these contenders to not heed the frenzied calls for impeachment.  Raucous and competing oversight hearings will jam the bandwidth in a tussle for camera coverage of whose “articles of impeachment” are better and should gain consensus.  Article after article will be proposed against Trump with certitude and derision.  A vote at long last will come, and nametags reading “hothead”, “traitor” and “milk toast” will be assigned. 



Sides:  The most ordered side will be “Cooling Saucer Tea” in honor of the storied role the Senate is supposed to play in tempering popular outrage in the House. Senate democrats will have little to do except counsel 2020 hopefuls in the House to “tone it down”.  Schumer will say the last thing we need is to give Trump a Senate vote rejecting impeachment.  “Cooling” talk will be about all there is to do since no legislation from House democrats will be considered by the GOP Senate and visa-versa.  Democrats will look feckless. 



Dessert:  Tiramisu du Garbage will be the star of the dessert tray.  It will be a media dish, layer after layer of shill cable news hosts with Hannity and Maddow belitting the opposition party.  The House will pile on investigations that go nowhere because Trump will gleefully flick away each subpoena.  Only the most die-hard politicos will be able to digest it.  Democrat voters, as 2020 approaches, will look ill. 



We are about to see two calamitous years of American history in the making.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pocahontas is on message.

Democrats are getting into position to run for president. Elizabeth Warren did what she needed to do.


Confront him. Hit back.


Click. The Guardian.
Trump drives serious people crazy and he pulls them off message. It is one of the secrets to his success. Keep people talking about his message instead of their own.

Panelists on Ari Melber's show on MSNBC were confident Trump had done it again. He had Elizabeth Warren talking about her DNA instead of about people losing health care, consumers being exposed once again to greedy bankers, and a tax bill that favors the very wealthy at the expense of our children.  She is off message, they said.

She is on message. She stood up to Trump. So there, Donald Trump!

The one, big message every Democratic candidate needs to make is that he or she won't be pushed around, and that requires them to be fearless and direct when dealing with Trump. Ignoring his insults is not understood by the public to be "going high." Talking about health care and taxes and consumer protection is not interpreted as being "on message." 

It is interpreted as dodging Trump. It looks weak.

Trump's big meta message in his campaign and in office is that he is a fearless bully who will keep American safe because is is unafraid of doing controversial things. He will lie and exaggerate and do shameless things and he can get away with it. He is bad but he is our bad guy. America First. 

Michael Avanatti, the maybe-candidate identified in the media as the "porn star lawyer," understands and articulates the point this blog has made for two years. The election is not about policy debates. It is about who knows what to do in a fight.

Click: CNN
Does he or she stand tall or does he or she deflect and run away when confronted by an opponent. Trump wins because he feels free to mock and humiliate others and he gets away with it. Little Marco, Lying Ted, Mexican rapists, Crooked Hillary, and now as president, the forgetful Dr. Ford and Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren. 

Trump understands the power of humiliation. Obama humiliated him at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It made Obama look presidential and Trump look weak, the silly little man with a reality TV show making decisions about a TV show. Trump sat there and fumed.

Weak.

Trump was routinely humiliating Warren with his Pocahontas jibe. She wasn't confronting him directly. Weak.

But Elizabeth Warren is a US Senator and expert on law and economic justice. She could win if she demonstrated she knows what Avanatti knows, that it is not enough to have the popular side of issues. 

At long last she hit back. It might be too late. She let the Pocahontas insult sit out there for two years, and Trump will say anything to keep up the insults. So you took the test, he is saying. You are a fraud, he says.

She is doing the right thing, but needs to hit back harder if she wants to be president.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Jordan Cove Pipeline Spreads Cash

Money for grants. Money for TV. Money for mailers.


Money to spread around to candidates. 


No LNG group stops Rotary meeting
A sleeping giant has awakened. 

For most of the past two years local voters heard a single point of view regarding the Jordan Cove project and the pipeline that would cross Jackson County to serve it. 

Opposition.

Opponents of the pipeline showed up at town halls with signs, they showed up to protest fundraising events at my home, they show up with booths at public events, they show up at Rotary meetings with a delegation with signs.

They know why they oppose the pipeline. They say it might leak, it serves a Canadian business, it will use eminent domain to cross private property, the gas goes for export rather than our use, it will transport fracked gas, the terminal in Coos Bay will pollute, and it perpetuates use of fossil fuels.

In the past six weeks this changed. Now we are hearing from Jordan Cove. They offer grants to community activities. They are advertising about the value of the project. It will be safe, the land they traverse will be restored, they will pay money in taxes, they will be good for business. And now, they add that they will be making community grants.

And political donations.

Newspaper Ad
They sent the ChamberPAC--the political action arm of the Medford Jackson County Chamber of Commerce--a total of $70,000 so far. The Chamber officially supports the project. This represents by far the biggest contribution to the Chamber of Commerce PAC. Previous contributions to the PAC had been in checks of one to several thousand dollars from well known local individuals and local businesses. Jordan Cove gave $25,000 on August 24, 2018 and an additional $45,000 on October 5, 2018.

This donation was unexpected and completely unsolicited, according to John Watt, a Chamber spokesman. He said they were happy to get it, of course. [NOTE, UPDATE.  JOHN WATT CONTACTED ME SUBSEQUENT TO OUR PHONE CONVERSATION AND SAID THAT HIS INFORMATION MIGHT NOT BE ENTIRELY CORRECT ON THIS POINT. I WILL UPDATE THIS IN FUTURE BLOG POSTS.]


Shortly after receiving the first $25,000 check the ChamberPAC made substantial contributions to candidates: $10,000 to Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts for County Commissioner, $10,000 to Kim Wallan for State Representative, and $10,000 to Jessica Gomez for State Senate.

On October 4 the Chamber booked receipt of another $45,000 from Jordan Cove. The Secretary of State report shows a flurry of donations surrounding the receipt of that check: $5,000 to the group that opposes the restaurant tax in Jacksonville, $2,500 to Joe Davis, a candidate for judge, $25,000 to Knute Bueller, and additional $10,000 checks to Jessica Gomez and Rick Dyer.   [NOTE: UPDATE. JOE DAVIS DECLINED TO ACCEPT THE DONATION, CITING THE NEED TO AVOID ANY POTENTIAL APPEARANCE OF CONFICT OF INTEREST ON MATTERS THAT MAY COME BEFORE HIM IF ELECTED. THE SECRETARY OF STATE REPORT SHOWS A CONTRIBUTION WAS MADE TO HIM, BUT DID NOT SHOW THAT HE HAD RETURNED OR REJECTED IT.]

$45,000 in. Then $45,000 out to those three Republican candidates. Was this an odd co-incidence? Was this a re-gift and sanitization of Jordan Cove project donations to Bueller, Gomez, and Dyer, in effect "washing" the donation from Jordan Cove through the independent Chamber PAC?

Some chatter in social media thinks so, saying it was an obvious pass through. Money in, money out.  Click

The idea of washing gifts to disguise their source had not particularly occurred to me except that the GOP Leadership Fund's Political Director, Evan Ridley, had said that gaming the contribution reporting is "typical" political practice, and that the Oregon Education Association had done this for Jeff Golden when they produced TV ads praising him. He said they avoided a direct gift to Golden, but he got the benefit of their direct expenditure, thus disguising the gift. (Golden said he didn't ask for it, didn't want it, and that it hurts him more than helps him. Ridley says it helps him. and that he was "surely" in on it.)  

One other prominent Republican officeholder contacted me to make the same charge--explaining to me the ease of which campaign contribution sources can be disguised, a candidate getting the benefit of the donation without needing to acknowledge its source.

If the money was a washed re-gift, Jordan Cove and the ChamberPAC covered their tracks. The gifts to the Davis and Meals Tax campaigns meant the money amounts did not line up perfectly. There was five days of delay between posting the Jordan Cove gift and making the Gomez contribution. Dyer signed a letter saying he opposed the pipeline project, so an odd beneficiary of Jordan Cove money, assuming his opposition remains firm.

In any case, the ChamberPAC is entitled to make those gifts to Buehler, Gomez, and Dyer for any reason they choose on their own, and having in hand the $45,000 additional dollars put them in a position to do so. Buehler is openly supportive of the pipeline project. 

Jessica Gomez is Vice President of the Chamber, but her position is unclear, signaled as both Yes and No in a public forum. In a conversation with me she seemed somewhat opposed to the project, but said she wanted to defer to Coos Bay area officeholders who supported it. She was non-committal. Yes-and-no.

Ugly, messy campaign financing. We are witnessing that arena where campaign donations, free speech, candidate positions, and the right to try to influence policy all intersect. It is an area where the public is uncomfortable, and should be. 

The second donation of $45,000
Jordan Cove is a foreign business, but they have interests in whom gets elected to local public office. They have every reason to oppose Jeff Golden: he opposes the pipeline. So they make $70,000 in donations to a business PAC, which then, for its own purposes, gives $20,000 to Jessica Gomez. making Jordan Cove--at one step removed--the source of a significant portion of her campaign funds.

But not directly to her. 

It is totally legal (assuming a foreign corporation can donate to the ChamberPAC, which I assume the company's lawyers have investigated and cleared.) Does it compromise Jessica Gomez? Certainly not in any legal sense. She is totally free to disappoint them and announce she will oppose them at every step or to give halfhearted support. Certainly there is no formal quid pro quo, nor even any need for an implied obligation.

But the contributions suggest a tilt, an orientation toward one side or another, and voters can make an inference. Their guesses may play out.

Big contributions send another powerful message of political power. A big check is a reward and a threat. Look at the big campaign stick we hold. This is how we reward our friends, and this is how we punish our enemies.

Beware of us. We can make you or break you,