Vice President Mike Pence stops in Fargo today for two events. One is a private fundraiser for Congressman Kevin Cramer that will cost people $1,000 to enter. The other is a public event hosted by “America First Policies” which is a non-profit with a past that leaves a lot of questions.
I don’t need to tell you Citizens United changed everything for campaign finance. Super PACs, “dark money”, non-profit involvement in politics. It was a landmark Supreme Court decision that has left a sour taste in our mouths when it comes to campaigns. Yet, it set the current rules of how campaigns and policy groups operate.
America First Policies was created by Brad Parscale, data director of Trump’s 2016 campaign and manager of his 2020 reelection bid, Rick Gates, who has a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and a couple of Mike Pence’s campaign advisers. Others with close ties to the White House have been involved with the organization as well. They’ve been criticized for the organization’s closeness to the White House by CNBC.
Since America First Policies is technically a “non-profit” their donors do not need to be publicly disclosed. They are reported to be hosting Pence in North Dakota. Typically, the hosting organization pays for expenses. Thus, it is not much of a stretch to point and say there is out-of-state political money being spent in North Dakota. In fact, the non-profit has already spent money on ads in the state. Yes, people will argue and say it is about a policy change but don’t kid yourself, this is a 2018 campaign event.
Pence will be joined at the event by Senator John Hoeven, Governor Doug Burgum, and former Congressman Rick Berg who was defeated by Heitkamp in 2012 and was announced as the new NDGOP Chair last week. They’re gathering to talk about the rushed tax reform bill that I wrote about at the time of its passage. Republicans needed that bill to pass before the end of 2017 so they had something to campaign on in 2018. In his letter to the editor printed in the Fargo Forum, Pence already set the partisan tone likely to be echoed at the event.
It is an honor to have the Vice President of the United States visit your state. Nobody is disputing that. He is attending a fundraiser for Kevin Cramer. Again, nothing questionable there. Pretty typical actually and will likely reoccur in the months ahead. Yet, the event hosted by a “non-profit” who doesn’t disclose it’s donors, is spending that “dark money” in North Dakota to talk policy and rally heading into 2018. Where is the outrage from those who bemoan this practice?