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The GOP's bogus war with corporate America
We've been told that the Republican Party has changed.
Historically, the GOP has worked hand in glove with big business — slashing corporate taxes, repealing regulations, and weakening workers' rights. But now, with Republicans and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) taking control of the House of Representatives, things have reportedly changed. Republicans have embraced populism and are at war with corporations, which they claim have gone "woke."
Fox News, for example, reported in November that "[c]orporate lobbyists are struggling to establish relationships with the incoming Republican leadership in the House of Representatives."
According to Fox News, McCarthy "has refused to meet with representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce." And House Republicans "have proven to be among the most hostile to corporate interests."
The New York Post hyped a "great divorce" between corporations and the GOP. The outlet reports that Republicans will use their new antagonistic relationship with big business to change the image of the GOP and "make inroads with small businesses ahead of the next presidential election." According to Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of the far-right Job Creators Network, "the GOP has the opportunity to become the party of the little guy again.” Axios reported that "Republicans in Congress are prepared to go to war with the business community, once the cornerstone of their coalition."
There will be little evidence of such a "war" between House Republicans and corporate lobbyists on February 7, when "Team McCarthy" hosts its first major political event of the year — a mega-fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington, DC.
Attendees are required to donate or raise at least $50,000. You need to donate or raise even more cash to be a co-host ($100,000) or host ($250,000). All of the proceeds will benefit the McCarthy Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that benefits McCarthy's reelection campaign, McCarthy's leadership committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The establishment of joint fundraising committees is a tactic used by both parties to circumvent campaign finance laws that cap the donations to any one committee.
All ten hosts and co-hosts listed on the invitation are corporate lobbyists.
McCarthy's right-hand man
The name at the very top of the fundraising invite is Jeff Miller, a member of McCarthy's inner circle who Politico suggested may now be "the most powerful unelected man in DC." Miller's relationship with McCarthy began when Miller was a 17-year-old intern for the Kern County Republican Party and McCarthy was a district representative for former Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA).
Miller later served as an advisor to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the presidential campaign manager for former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R). But, over the years, Miller "has always had Kevin’s ear." The pair "grew up together in the world of politics in D.C."
As McCarthy rose up the ranks in the House Republican caucus, Miller assumed a central role. Miller frequently travels with McCarthy and has raised millions for the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), McCarthy's Super PAC, and the American Action Network (AAN), CLF's affiliated non-profit organization. Miller and Dan Coston, who runs CLF and AAN, "make up the nucleus of McCarthy’s political operation."
But Miller is not compensated directly for his work for McCarthy. He has other ways of paying the bills.
In 2017, after Trump was elected, Miller started a federal lobbying firm, Miller Strategies. Miller never graduated college and had no experience as a federal lobbyist. But he was able to leverage his personal connections to attract clients. When Perry was named Secretary of Energy, Miller's first clients "included the energy companies Southern Company and Energy Transfer Partners." Miller "was able to secure meetings" for his corporate clients "with key administration officials including Perry and then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin." By 2020, the final year of Trump's presidency, Miller Strategies had nearly $14 million in revenue.
Miller "raised more than $100 million" for Trump's reelection and became close friends with Donald Trump Jr. After McCarthy and 146 other Republicans voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Miller reportedly "worked to assuage concerns of corporate donors… and to ensure the big dollar spigot remained open." In just 48 hours, Miller was "on the phone with more than 200 of the party’s most valued financiers to make sure they didn’t jump ship."
Today, Miller Strategies represents more than four dozen major corporations, including many of the "woke" companies McCarthy is supposedly taking on — Apple, Blackstone, and PhRMA. Since Republicans won the House in November, Miller Strategies has already signed five new clients. Miller Strategies has staffed up in anticipation of even more new business, recruiting McCarthy's political director, Stephen Ruppel, to the firm.
As host of the February 7 fundraiser, Miller will raise or donate at least $250,000 for McCarthy. Four of Miller's associates at his lobbying firm — George Caram, Ashley Gunn, Jonny Hiler, Jessica Mandel — have each committed to raise or donate another $100,000. On one day in February, Miller Strategies' lobbyists will raise a minimum of $650,000 for McCarthy.
A similar event that Miller hosted for McCarthy last January raised $9.5 million. Miller Strategies touted the event on its Twitter account.
In other words, McCarthy is not at war with corporate America. His political operation is fueled by corporate America's paid representatives.
Disney's inside man
The poster child for "woke" corporations is Disney. The company drew the scorn of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) after it belatedly opposed the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as "Don't Say Gay." The law is now being used to justify purging books with LGBTQ characters from Florida school libraries.
As punishment for speaking out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, DeSantis pushed through legislation revoking Disney's control over the area surrounding Walt Disney World, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Since then, Disney has been a frequent target of Republicans in Congress.
Disney may have better luck in Congress advancing its priorities in Congress with McCarthy in charge.
John Stipicevic served as McCarthy's deputy chief of staff and is now the "Chief Advocacy Officer" for CGCN, a corporate lobbying firm. According to "other Republican lobbyists," Stipicevic is the "second closest McCarthy insider on K Street," after Miller. Stipicevic is a co-host for the February 7 fundraiser, meaning he has committed to raising or donating at least $100,000. Two other CGCN lobbyists with ties to McCarthy, Sam Geduldig and Tim Pataki, are also co-hosts.
Stipicevic, Geduldig, and Pataki are all registered lobbyists for Disney, which pays CGCN $240,000 per year to represent them in DC. Other corporations frequently derided as "woke" by Republicans that are represented by Stipicevic and his colleagues at CGCN include Microsoft, Mastercard, American Airlines, and Wells Fargo.
The two other co-hosts for McCarthy's February 7 fundraiser are also corporate lobbyists. Jim Richards, a lobbyist at Cornerstone, represents Google which pays his firm $680,000 annually. Richards also represents dozens of other corporations including United Airlines, Boeing, and SAP. Ben Howard, a lobbyist at Duberstein Group, represents Amazon, Comcast, Estee Lauder, and many others. Howard previously spent seven years working for McCarthy in Congress.