ICYMI: “The Senate GOP Has a 2024 Candidate Strategy. Will Sunshine Laws Ruin It?” [The Daily Beast]


The Daily Beast: “The Senate GOP Has a 2024 Candidate Strategy. Will Sunshine Laws Ruin It?”

Republicans are desperate to recruit rich candidates who can self-fund their campaigns. There’s a big wrinkle in that plan.

By Matt Fuller, Sam Brodey, Jake Lahut

April 27, 2023

  • The Senate GOP’s campaign arm seems to have stumbled upon a novel strategy this cycle: recruit rich candidates who will pour their fortunes into their own campaigns.
  • But there’s one wrinkle to that gambit—and it may dampen Republican hopes to enlist the ultra-wealthy, self-funding candidates they want: financial disclosure laws.
  • Every candidate for federal office—as well as the officeholders themselves—are required to submit their finances to the public’s microscope by filing personal financial disclosures (PFDs) to congressional authorities.
  • For Senate candidates, they must file a thorough accounting of their finances within 30 days of becoming a candidate, and that accounting requires much more detail than the disclosures most states mandate for their candidates.
  • For instance, the federal disclosure forms ask candidates to disclose any earned income above $200, any assets worth more than $1,000, liabilities costing over $10,000, any position they’ve held—paid or not—within the last two years, all agreements about future employment arrangements (like book deals), and all compensation over $5,000 for the last two years.
  • Politico recently reported that “at least 10 candidates with sizable net worth are seriously considering self-funded Senate campaigns in more than a half-dozen swing states—many of them at the behest of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”
  • In Montana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, the GOP has already lined up several formidable cash cows going into 2024. The crop of potential self-funding candidates includes Montana’s Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and CEO of Bridger Aerospace; West Virginia Gov. and coal industry titan Jim Justice; Wisconsin real estate magnate Eric Hovde; and hedge funder Dave McCormick of Pennsylvania, who came just 951 votes shy of Mehmet Oz in the Keystone State’s 2022 GOP Senate primary.
  • For the ultra-wealthy individuals that the Senate GOP is trying to recruit, things are much more complicated.
  • For some ultra-rich Senate hopefuls, their first PFD would offer the clearest-ever glimpse of their complicated finances. That could get uncomfortable fast.
  • Justice—whose sprawling business portfolio includes coal, agriculture, and hospitality—reportedly owes an array of “substantial debts,” some stemming from lawsuits. A West Virginia bank even went after him last month to garnish his wages as governor over an unpaid $850,000 loan.
  • These candidates’ finances could be revealed as extraordinarily messy—and fuel a number of unflattering stories.
  • In Montana, Sheehy has defended the “Environmental, Social and Governance” concept—a criteria that some investors use to decide where to put their money. But Republicans writ large have made a sport out of going after “ESG” as a symptom of an overly woke corporate America. Sheehy may find it difficult to explain away his position, as well as the $160 million in ESG bonds his company took last year.
  • Some self-funding candidates have already learned firsthand the price of running for office. In the case of Hovde, the real estate tycoon who might run against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), he faced an onslaught of criticism six years ago when he last tried to take down Baldwin because he didn’t pay state income taxes in some years where he had big tax write-offs.
  • The Associated Press was keen to point out that, for all of McCormick’s “hometown boy-done-good” schtick, he was also the CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund.
  • In 2022, Democratic Senate candidates outraised Republicans by nearly $300 million.
  • Nora Keefe, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that “Republicans want to stack the Senate with ‘filthy rich’ candidates who will look out for themselves and their friends in mega-corporations. As their financial entanglements face a new level of scrutiny, we expect they’ll have many questions to answer.”


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