Are Ron Paul's Fundraisers a Shadowy Threat to Rand Paul's Political Future?

David Weigel at Slate wrote a somewhat dizzyingly detailed piece today that asks the subtitular question: "Could the shadowy network of Rand Paul’s old fundraising machine sink his presidential ambitions?"

Answer: probably not. If you wanted to know a whole lot about the various different companies and campaigns that Paul family fundraiser Mike Rothfeld and his company Saber Communications do work for—all of them within the general unsurprising bailiwick of right-wing politics—this will give you some names and facts.

If you want to be reminded that Ron Paul campaign worker Dimitri Kesari likely paid off an Iowa state senator, Kent Sorenson, to abandon a Michele Bachmann endorsement and give a Ron Paul endorsement (see my blogging about that back last August), this will remind you. Neither the bribed senator nor the Paul campaign worker Dennis Fusaro who taped the phone conversations that led to the public revelation of the scandal think that Ron Paul himself knew about it.

Weigel talks a lot about how various workers in the Paul fundraising and campaign machine used to work for right-wing mail, fundraising, and lobbying house the National Right to Work Committee (NRTW). Weigel sees some of NRTW's activities in the 2010 Iowa Senate race as potentially campaign finance law violations.

Interesting from a more ideological standpoint (but not discussed much in Weigel's article, which has other fish to fry, though Weigel does mention the Rothfeld crowd "are mistrusted by some in the 'liberty movement'") is how the more hardcore libertarian anti-interventionist types in the larger Paul fan movement back in 2011-12 always mistrusted and even hated the NRTW elements in the campaign, especially Rothfeld.

Rothfeld's comedic-serious personal aggressiveness and desire to keep the campaign and the movement firmly ensconsed in the world of right-wing ideas and practices he knew he could raise money on made him a personal devil to many who went through his political activist training boot camps. Rothfeld is the sort of fellow who clearly accepted every ounce of hate and drank it like the delicious tears of his enemies. (I once had the pleasure of being kicked out of a meeting I had driven an hour or more to cover when Rothfeld learned that I was present and a reporter.)

Complaints about how this or that faction was messing up or ruining the Paul campaign could be heard from all sides constantly. It's always at best an arguable point rather than something the complainer could prove. But certainly Kesari, when I interviewed him back in September 2012, was very happy to distance Paul from any connotations of being some kind of anti-Empire peacenik.

Kesari averred that "some people think [Ron Paul's] just a peacknik and hates Israel and wants to let people do whatever they want and have bombs and that's not really the case. If Ron were president and someone did something against us, Ron would be the first one to push the button, not the last one." While admitting the paid ad messaging for the Paul campaign didn't talk foreign policy much, Kesari denied the NRTW pros were trying to quash that message. Regardless, from having seen Paul do his stump speech many, many times in that 2011-12 campaign, there is no way to quash his foreign policy message. Paul never failed to make it central in his speeches and at least once in my presence told a group of donors that it was his key reason for running.

If Rand Paul does end up squeezing out the Rothfeld fundraising machine because of associations with political sleaze (even of an abstruse type that will likely not have much national media play), that may please some of those types. Then again, Rand Paul might have his own reasons for not coming across as a full-on Ron Paul anti-imperial warrior. But no one is apt to score serious political points against a surging Paul for President '16 campaign—if we come to that point—over Mike Rothfeld. Although the article did a great job of casting shadows. I got an email today from a relative who'd read the story asking "is this true?" though he wasn't exactly sure what dark thing in it we should be concerned with being true.

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  • Ken Shultz||

    "David Weigel at Slate wrote a somewhat dizzyingly detailed piece today that asks the subtitular question: "Could the shadowy network of Rand Paul’s old fundraising machine sink his presidential ambitions?"

    Weigel...

    Isn't that the guy that thinks we're all a bunch of rat-fuckers who should light ourselves on fire?

  • Rufus J. Fisk||

    He also thinks that we should be taxed for NOT lighting ourselves on fire.

  • ||

    Weigel's article, which has other fish to fry

    Those fish would be securing his Obama apologist position and making sure everyone thinks his articles in 2008 detailing dark net unread birther blogs was far more important news rather then you know actually looking at the candidates.

  • Sudden||

    So Chile, after a couple of months of seismic activity that led some to suspect a big one coming, has just had its 8.0 quake.

    Time to get my L.A. earthquake survival kit in order. Gonna go buy some silver and a handgun. Does anyone know where I can find a decent peaty scotch in a plastic 1.75L jug?

  • ||

    Does anyone know where I can find a decent peaty scotch in a plastic 1.75L jug?

    Yeah go to the store. Find the big plastic bottles of monarch Vodka.

    Buy those instead.

    Way more useful in an LA zombie apocalypse.

  • LarryA||

    Silver? For bullets? You expect werewolves and witches instead of zombies?

  • vandelay||

    "Although the article did a great job of casting shadows..."

    This was, of course, the only reason the article was written in the first place.

  • Sevo||

    So, innuendo-hit on Paul?
    Wonder if Weigel consorts with goats? No one has denied it!

  • Sudden||

    He may or may not have legal representation that is well-versed in defending one's reputation against accusations of illicit affairs with fauna.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    Wonder if Weigel consorts with goats? No one has denied it!

    I certainly couldn't deny it. You know how much goat shit I shovel in a week? A lot, considering they could spread out over several acres.

  • Dweebston||

    When OFA and DNC run lavishly-funded campaigns marketing for President Community Organizer, it's politics-as-usual: don't look too closely at the sausage factory, just smile and cast your ballot.

    When libertarians, operating as a virtual underclass of the opposing party, field a dark-horse contender, his dad's mailing lists are grounds for guilt-by-proxy.

    Got it, Weigel.

  • ||

    If Paul's momentum continues to accelerate the claws and the knives will come out in earnest on both sides. A principled, libertarianish candidate with a serious shot at the whitehouse scares the ever-lovin' shit out of those corrupt, statist fucks. A Paul presidency would be their worst nightmare.

    They will be nastier, slimier and dirtier fighting him than they ever would be against each other.

    It will be an excellent sorting out of the good and the evil.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Sorting out the sheep and the *goats,* as it were?

  • Alien Invader||

    They will be nastier, slimier and dirtier fighting him than they ever would be against each other.

    That's what I'm afraid of.

    What I hope is that they go so far over board that The People don't take them seriously. Like froth at the mouth and stuff. It's already headed in that direction.

  • Dweebston||

    I'm really not as optimistic as you are about what drastic changes a Paul presidency heralds. He'd be fighting a constant rearguard battle with the thoroughly statist Republican core while attempting to woo Democrats who, for all the shellacking the ACA may cause them, will continue being just as cronyist as Paul's party. At the end of four years, or, God willing, eight, he may have gridlocked Congress and forever tarnished libertarians in the eyes of voters who want nothing more than that their representatives do something. And none of it through any fault of Rand Paul, libertarianism, fiscal conservatism, or individualism per se. He'll just be carrying those standards into a field of adversaries.

  • ace_m82||

    Dweeb

    At least then we'll know that there is no hope here...

    But I'm not quite that big a pessimist. Many people want to be free.

  • Paul.||

    If Rand Paul does end up squeezing out the Rothfeld fundraising machine because of associations with political sleaze (even of an abstruse type that will likely not have much national media play), that may please some of those types.

    So what's the Rothfeld guy's motivation? What's his beef? I'm a little confused here... is the gist that Rothfeld is the one who sort of attracts the sleaze that the media focuses on (newsletters, anti-immigration blah blah)?

    I've always held Ron Paul a bit at arms-length. Not so much because I disliked Paul personally, or I ever heard him say something on the national stage which bothered me, but something more visceral, something admittedly less rational.

    Occasionally I run across someone who seems Ron Birchey right-wing, very anti-immigration, actually using what the left likes to call racist dog-whistles (not the fake ones that are often pointed out), and too often it turns out they're rabid Ron Paul supporters.

    I remember on a Gamespot show called Feedbakula! where the show's producers take a hot-button video game topic, cull crazy comments from the twitters and the website itself and poke fun at them, they picked out a really, extra douchey one by a site member. It was full of zany political conspiracy theories about AIDS and what not. I don't even remember the comment, but I looked up the guy's history on the website: rabid Ron Paul supporter.

    Is it wrong to be concerned about Paul because of his supporters?

  • ||

    It is pretty easy to find anti-semitic Obama supporters.

    Probably would not be hard to find one that say Aids was invented by the CIA.

    Tony is in favor of Eugenics.

    Right wing nut jobs only stand out because the left ignore their own.

  • sasob||

    Probably would not be hard to find one that say Aids was invented by the CIA.

    Reverend Wright immediately comes to mind.

  • RishJoMo||

    Lets head on up to the mountains dude.

    www.GotzAnon.tk

  • mr simple||

    "Could the shadowy network of Rand Paul’s old fundraising machine sink his presidential ambitions?"

    Shorter Weigel: Oh please,oh please,oh please,oh please,oh please...

  • BlockadeRunnerX||

    Rothfeld's motivation is to do well by doing good.

    He is a hard-core right winger, an outspoken evangelical Christian who is well known in Virginia GOP circles as a fierce political operative.

    He's actually run for office himself a couple times, so it's not hard to find out what he stands for: slash taxes to the bone, confer equal rights of citizenship upon unborn babies, state-sanctioned marriage is between one man and one woman only, and it's none of your damn business how many guns I have or what caliber they are.

    He is at odds with the liberty movement on foreign policy. He believes the U.S. should have a gigantic military, which we use to exert our influence.

    I think he saw the rise of Ron and Rand Paul and saw it as an opportunity to take a ready-made grassroots army and use it to advance his agenda.

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