Money Politics: Conservative Group Sells Endorsement
The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.
For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”
The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx , which was provided to POLITICO.
The letter exposes the practice by some political interest groups of taking stands not for reasons of pure principle, as their members and supporters might assume, but also in part because a sponsor is paying big money.
In the three-page letter asking for money on June 30, the conservative group backed FedEx. After FedEx says it rejected the offer, Keene signed onto a two-page July 15 letter backing UPS. Keene did not return a message left on his cell phone.
Political advocacy costs money, and often groups like ACU are forced to find sponsorship in order to engage in their advocacy. This is no different on the left. It’s a sad reality of the “sausage making” side of politics. It costs money.
That being said, where the ACU went wrong is switching sides when FedEx wouldn’t pony up.
I’ve never really liked the ACU. Their annually released rankings of conservative always struck me as kind of BS. Now I’ve got good reason to ignore them all together.