The quality of Merkley

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Same shit, different flies. That Democrats welcome from Obama what they recoiled from under Bush has become so commonplace that it’s now a cliche. In the latest example, only two Democratic Senators (Jeff Merkley and Pat Leahy) as well as Independent Bernie Sanders declined to support the appointment to head the CIA of a man who oversaw the application of torture during the Bush Administration and was assassination czar during Obama’s tenure. In a statement following his vote against Brennan’s confirmation, Merkley wrote:

“I have deep concerns with the Obama Administration’s continuation of Bush-era policies related to warrantless wiretapping and the collection of electronic records pertaining to the activities of ordinary citizens.

“I have concerns about policies that allow the administration to strip due process rights from Americans it chooses to deem enemy combatants. Those lost rights constitute core constitutional values, including the requirement to show cause for detaining a citizen, the right to a public trial, and the right to confront those who bear evidence against you.

“I am also deeply concerned about the implications of the administration’s policy on drone strikes. And I am troubled that so much of the legal justification for these policies remains secret, preventing Congress, let alone the American people, from weighing the trade-offs.”

Previously I’ve written about Rand Paul, who led a filibuster against Brennan with the aid of Mike Lee, as well as summarizing the donors to Merkley’s fellow Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who joined in Paul’s filibuster but voted to confirm Brennan anyway. Today I’ll look at Merkley himself.

Merkley’s largest donor, giving him over $78,000 since 2008, is JStreetPAC, a political action committee favoring a peaceful resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. His second largest is the arms control non-profit the Council for a Livable World, which gave him $56,000. In addition, he has attracted significant contributions from several other left-leaning issue-based organizations, including MoveOn.org (sixth), the League of Conservation Voters (eighth). Democratic politico Steve Westly‘s clean-tech venture capital firm the Westly Group (13th) also invested in Merkley, who is chair of the Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy.

The Oregon Senator receives a great deal of money from in-state sources, including workers from the State of Oregon (third) and Portland/Hillsboro’s Oregon Health & Science University (fourth), the state’s largest private employer, Intel (fifth) in Hillsboro, and Portland-area footwear giant Nike (17th). Lawyers and law firms also gave heavily to Merkley; he received lots of attention from the largest law firm in Oregon, Portland’s Stoel Rives (seventh), trial lawyers Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman (11th), and Portland litigation and securities firm Stoll Berne (16th).

Unions move big bucks into Merkley’s corner. Among his major supporters are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (ninth); the country’s largest federation of unions, the AFL-CIO (tenth); the American Nurses Association (12th); the Teamsters Union (18th); and tying for 20th with $15,000 apiece: the Communications Workers of America, the Ironworkers Union, the Operating Engineers Union, and the Painters and Allied Trades Union.

Merkley also received donations from real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank (14th), hedge fund investors D. E. Shaw & Co. (15th), and gigantoid media conglomerate Time Warner (19th).

A Mike Lee story

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Kiss goodbye to another bit of the Bill of Rights. After thirteen hours of delay, the shredding of the US Constitution resumed today, with only a few Senators — mainly Tea Party Republicans — having briefly stood in its way. Torture and assassination supporter John Brennan was just confirmed 63-34 with only three members of the Democratic caucus (Merkley, Leahy and Sanders) opposing him. The delay occurred because, as Kevin Gosztola of FireDogLake wrote yesterday:

The nomination of John Brennan to the position of CIA director is currently being held up by a filibuster being led by Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He has been joined by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah and even Democratic Senator Ron Wyden to ask “questions” of him as he filibusters.

Much of the motivation for standing on the Senate floor for the past hours has to do with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has declined to say outright that targeting and killing a US citizen suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on US soil, who did not pose an imminent threat, would be illegal. Paul submitted three letters and finally on March 5 Holder gave him an answer. However, it did not rule out the use of drone strikes and say this would be unconstitutional.

I’ve previously given an overview of the major contributors to Paul and Wyden. Today I’ll look at who has given money to Lee, who joined the Senate in 2010.

Several major donors to the Utah Senator have ties to Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican presidential candidate and a former Utah resident. Lee’s top donor by far, giving nearly $75,000, was APX Alarm (now Vivint), a Provo-based home security firm; its president is Alex Dunn, Mitt Romney’s former chief of staff. Murray Energy (third), an Ohio coal mining corporation run by prominent Romney supporter Robert E. Murray, fueled Lee’s campaign with $24,000, as did Provo dietary supplement sellers Nu Skin Enterprises (fourth).

Law firms edged out business services as Lee’s biggest industry. Huge corporate law firm Sidley Austin (second) contributed $28,000; mergers and acquisitions specialists Sullivan & Cromwell ranked sixth and bankruptcy law firm Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones 11th.

Many of Lee’s big donors came from his home state of Utah. Payday loan company Tosh Inc. (Check City) (fifth), has its headquarters in Provo. Herbal supplement manufacturers Basic Research (seventh) work out of Salt Lake City, as does billboard company Reagan Outdoor Advertising (eighth). Online marketing business Omniture (tenth), acquired by software multinational Adobe, was moved from Orem to Lehi. Draper professional services firm NPEC (12th-19th) gave $10,000, while Saint George energy company Paydirt Capital, Salt Lake City’s Perry Homes, and Centerville investment advisors Wealth Navigation (20th-23rd) all donated $9,600.

Other significant contributors to Lee include the world’s largest software company, Microsoft (ninth). $10,000 donations came in from lobbying groups the American Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors; and political action committees OrrinPAC, representing Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, former Senator Jim DeMint’s Tea Party Senate Conservatives Fund, and the pro-Israel Citizens Organized. Pharmacy services company Medco Health Solutions gave $10,000 too, while venture capital firm Northgate Capital (20th-23rd) gave $9,600.