Hypocritical Class Warfare in the Massachusetts Senate Race

Billionaire hedge fund Democrats attack “Wall Street insider” Republican.

In advance of Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, the commonwealth has been carpeted with direct mail pieces depicting the Republican candidate as a “Wall Street insider” who “supports tax breaks for billionaires.”

What has not been reported until now is that the negative mailings supporting the Democratic candidate were paid for by a political action committee funded by two New York billionaire hedge fund managers.

Campaigns often turn to direct mail for messages so nasty they don’t want to put them up on television for everyone to see. In this case, however, the Senate Majority Pac has no shame — it’s running a television commercial with the same “Wall Street insider,” “loosen the rules on Wall Street bankers” language as the direct-mail pieces.

One glossy mailing asks, “Can we really trust Wall Street insider Gabriel Gomez to look out for Massachusetts families?” It claims, “Gomez became a millionaire while outsourcing American jobs” and “Gomez would cut Social Security to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.” Another mailing says, “Gomez is a Wall Street insider. He supports tax breaks for billionaires and wants to roll back consumer regulations and loosen the rules on Wall Street bankers while cutting programs that help the middle class.”

This line of attack against Gomez is inaccurate because he’s not actually a “Wall Street insider”; he lives in Massachusetts, and before becoming a candidate, he worked in the private equity business.

It’s also foolish, because if “Wall Street” is code, as it often is, for attacking the financial industry overall, that industry, in the form of firms like Fidelity Investments, State Street, Wellington Management, and the Baupost Group, is a substantial positive contributor to the Massachusetts economy. Try selling municipal bonds for Massachusetts roads and bridges, or raising capital for growing technology companies in Massachusetts, without Wall Street.

Finally, it’s hypocritical, because the same Senate Majority Pac that is attacking Gomez as a millionaire Wall Street insider was funded in 2011 and 2012 with $3 million from New York hedge fund manager James Simons and $450,000 from New York hedge fund manager David Shaw, Federal Election Commission records show.

Without naming Simons or Shaw or even New York hedge fund managers generally, the Boston Globe reported this month that the Senate Majority Pac is spending half a million dollars on advertising against Gomez. It also mentioned more than $342,000 in negative advertising against Gomez by a different political action committee backed by a California-based hedge-fund billionaire, Thomas Steyer.

The political action committee to which Simons and Shaw donated has ties to top Democratic politicians. Its co-chair, Susan McCue, served until 2006 as chief of staff to the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. A member of the pac’s board of directors, Julianna Smoot, was deputy campaign manager of President Obama’s re-election campaign. And President Obama himself has set the tone of the pac’s message with his own reference to “fat cat bankers on Wall Street.”

When it’s Republicans or libertarians like Sheldon Adelson or David and Charles Koch participating in the political process, the left-wing press works itself into a lather about the threat to democracy that is posed by the risk of “buying elections.” Yet when it is James Simons or David Shaw paying for the attack ads, somehow no one seems to find it worth mentioning.

The hypocrisy and double standards don’t stop there. If the Senate Majority Pac’s smear campaign against Gomez succeeds, the Democrat who will take over the seat vacated by John Kerry will be Edward Markey, who was first elected to Congress nearly 37 years ago, in 1976. Then the Senate Majority Pac will move on to its next target, the Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell. The pac says it plans a “30 years is too long” campaign criticizing McConnell’s longevity in Washington.

If 30 years in the capital is too long for McConnell, why isn’t 37 years too long for Markey? And if the Gomez-Markey Senate race is really about wealthy Wall Street insiders versus the middle class and Massachusetts families, why are the scare ads against the Republican candidate being funded by a political action committee backed by rich New York hedge fund managers? And, again, why are these independent expenditures considered so malignant when they are made by an Adelson or a Koch but not when they are made by a Simons or a Shaw?

These all would be fine questions for voters in Massachusetts and beyond to ponder on this Election Day.

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  • Hyperion||

    Finally, it’s hypocritical, because the same Senate Majority Pac that is attacking Gomez as a millionaire Wall Street insider was funded in 2011 and 2012 with $3 million from New York hedge fund manager James Simons and $450,000 from New York hedge fund manager David Shaw, Federal Election Commission records show.

    But, but.. it's our team! Our team is better, rah rah, gooooo team blue!

  • ||

    Because we all know that we can count on rich Democrats to really stick it to themselves. They just want to redistribute their wealth to others. There's nothing in it for them. Nada. Zippo.

  • Free Society||

    We can count on them to support whichever group stands to provide them with economic rent. What good is the coercive power of the state if it can't be used to enrich entrenched interests? That's why you see so many billionaires supporting the party of regulation and anti-markets.

  • Mark22||

    Rich Democrats aren't affected by higher income taxes at all since most of their money isn't from income. Furthermore, when you're rich, the marginal utility of money decreases. That is, 5% more taxes on income or capital gains makes a significant difference to a middle class family, but it makes no practical difference to a billionaire (or a pauper).

  • Sevo||

    Mark22| 6.24.13 @ 5:41PM |#
    "Rich Democrats aren't affected by higher income taxes at all since most of their money isn't from income."

    That hypocrite Buffett takes $100K annual "income", and of course the free flights on the planes where he owns a share are not taxable, are they?
    I'll presume the legal help fighting that battle is paid by the company.

  • RightNut||

    Not sure I care about this election, other than just wanting the annoying ads to stop. Living in the one party People's Republic of Massachusetts that I sometimes forget how obnoxious election ads are.

    Gomez is better than Markey, but Gomez is no libertarian and in most states Gomez would be considered a moderate Democrat. It's only in MA that anything to the right of a communist is a radical far right conservative.

  • tarran||

    That's why I *love* my Roku box!

    No ads on Netflix! ;)

  • RightNut||

    Except its not just TV. I get 15s "Gomez is in the barrel for big oil!" ads on my Pandora too, as well as web ads(yes I use ad block but its off on sites I regularly visit), and mailers, and the side of buses, and magazines, and fruit.

  • dinkster||

    "It's only in MA that anything to the right of a communist is a radical far right conservative."

    That isn't CA?

  • Sevo||

    ..."depicting the Republican candidate as a “Wall Street insider” who “supports tax breaks for billionaires.”....

    Yeah, that Elon Musk gets all his handouts from the Repub in the oval office.

  • space junk||

    30 years is too long. So is 37 or even 20. Kick them all out!

  • space junk||

    Well, vote out anyone who has been in there for more than 12 years.

  • GroundTruth||

    What I'm saying to my socialist (i.e. "Democrat") friends: I'm not worried, Markey is a shoe-in.

    What I'm saying to anyone who might possibly vote for Gomez: I don't know, but if enough Markey supporters just stay home, Gomez has a chance if enough people get off their butts and vote.

    I live in the people republic of Massholes, so I don't get a chance to say the latter much.

  • West Texas||

    For a bunch of people who fancy themselves sophisticated and smart, Massachusetts voters are actually idiots. Why? Because Markey and every other Democrat politician in this state wouldn't run these crude smeary ads if they didn't actually work. They just throw a few scare words on TV - Tea Party! Sarah Palin! War on Womenz! - and the voters show up at the polls for them. It's fucking amazing.

    My wife, who calls herself a Democrat, is actually voting for Gomez because she's so fed up with the negative campaigning from Markey. She even told that to a GOTV volunteer who rang our door last night. Except for pap about "fighting for women and working families", Markey hasn't said shit about his plans or his accomplishments (not that there are any), it's all been nonsense about scary republicans.

    Sadly, Markey's going to win pretty easily, though, and that's just sad.

  • XM||

    Wall street is supposed to be notoriously liberal. I've heard that wives of wall street folks are resigned to the fact that their husband will have one night stands every time they go on business trips.

    WS certainly gives a lot of money to the Democrats, at least until this election.

  • Locke||

    But But THE CORPORASHUNZ AND BANKS AND EVIL CAPITALISTZ!!

  • ||

    I listen to Boston radio all the time. What a bunch of low character buffoons Massachusetts keeps electing. Apparently Democrat misbehavior is accepted there. It's like they - voters - have no self-dignity.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Democratic corruption isn't enocuraged in Mass. politics, it's an outright requirement.

  • ||

    At least here in Quebec where nationalism and populism runs high depending on who is in power, we do mix things up by electing different parties both provincially and federally. Conservatives, liberals, NDP, PQ and perhaps even the CAQ one day all get elected. Quebecers tend to believe all politicians suck and it doesn't matter what party they're from so they don't mind taking chances.

    In Massachusetts there's but two parties and they elect just ONE. It's retarded.

  • Anders||

    Mass. has nothing to lose by electing Gomez and retiring Markey. Gomez is a Mass republican - he's pro gay marriage, anti gun, pro illegal immigration...frankly he's a Democrat in SEALs clothing.

    Markey's trying to make him out to be some kind of right wing extremist which is simply farcical. You want to know who is a dangerous right wing zeal? That Ted Cruz dude. Scary hombre.

  • wwhorton||

    I listened to these guys debate last weekend on C-SPAN (I know, I'm a wild man) and although I know nothing about either guy's record, Markey sounded like a real scumbag. Like a career, party-line politicrat. As a Marylander, I can however relate to Massachusetts politics, and so I'm sure that the very notion of electing a Republican to office is totally abhorrent to the average voter.

  • ||

    I listened to Gomez debate Markey debate. If Mass. votes in that guy again - he's been there for 37 years - they're officially a brain-dead voting populace. That they have so many great institutions of higher learning is but one of life's ironic twists at this point. But they will elect Markey like they voted for people like Tierney, T. Kennedy and Granny Warren.

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