American Bridge is a SuperPAC founded by David Brock, one of the oddest ducks in American politics. Once a right-wing journalistic assassin-for-hire and purveyor of Bill Clinton conspiracy theories, he turned against the GOP after coming out of the closet and was reborn as some kind of super-operative for the Republican-wing of the Democratic Party. Despite being one of the least trustworthy characters in American politics, he has been allowed to infiltrate multiple layers of the Democratic Party establishment to a degree that nearly every Democratic failure since the early 2000s has his fingerprints on it. Brock has been an especially effective Bernie saboteur and Edward Helmore used an article in The Guardian to note “residual unease among some liberal operatives that Brock’s conversion story fits into a pattern of opportunism and self-promotion rather than ideological transformation.” I don’t know if he’s a Republican mole or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s been enriching himself while sabotaging the Democratic Party from within for years.
Of the $20,460,398 American Bridge 21st Century collected in 2018, almost nothing was spent helping candidates, while $13,864,849 was spent on salaries, close to $3 million of administrative costs and over a million and a half on consultants. Everything about their balance sheet screams SCAM. It was the same pattern in 2016– $19,894,876 raised; $143,186 to help candidates; $12,598,727 for salaries; and the rest for consultants, administrative costs and so on.
Yesterday, NBC News reported that one of his operations, American Bridge “is embarking on a $50 million effort designed to soften President Donald Trump’s support among the group that cost Democrats the White House in 2016– white working-class voters in the Upper Midwest.” Reaching out for cash from naive, wealthy Democratic donors, his memo states that “We understand that we may not win these voters back entirely, but if we don’t make inroads into these areas, we will win the popular vote, lose the Electoral College, and the Senate could be lost for a decade.” He plans to drain $80 million from legitimate Democratic Party vehicles into his own super-shady SuperPAC, a $50 million expansion he claims will help the Democrats win rural and exurban voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and possibly Florida via commissionable and very profitable paid advertising campaigns on TV and radio and via digital dissemination.
The NBC News piece was written by an exceptionally inept reporter, Alex Seitz-Wald, who’s never successfully grappled with the distinction between journalism and p.r.
“We’re going to focus on real-life testimonials and putting them in front of voters,” Brock said.
Trump has already spent tens of millions of dollars on his reelection campaign and held dozens of rallies while Democrats are just beginning the year-and-half-long process of selecting their nominee.
“While the strongest Democratic field in history brings their messages to primary voters and the American people, we are going to take the fight to Donald Trump, who has sold out hard-working Americans,” said Andrew Gillum, the former Tallahassee mayor who ran for Florida governor last year.
Gillum is joining the board of American Bridge’s 501(c)4 non-profit arm, which is chaired by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. New additions also include former DNC Chair Ed Rendell and operative Jessica Mackler, who ran the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in last year’s midterm elections.
Since Hillary Clinton lost the formerly solidly blue Midwest states, Democrats have debated whether to focus on winning back those voters or doubling down on their more diverse base.
Progressives within the Democratic Party have instead focussed on making sure the party’s next nominee is not another version of Hillary Clinton– so an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders (or even a Mayor Pete) rather than a Biden or Beto or Gillibrand. In other words, someone whose policy agenda will appeal to those Midwestern blue collar voters rather than chase them to a carnival barker like Trump again.