Linda Chavez, I Love You
Linda Chavez rose to prominence in the 1980s as a tart-tongued Reagan administration official and candidate for the Senate, eventually becoming a well-known Latina voice on social issues and President Bush’s choice to lead the Labor Department. With her conservative celebrity came book deals, a syndicated column, regular appearances on the Fox News Channel — and a striking but little-known success at political fundraising.
In the years since she was forced to pull her nomination as Bush’s labor secretary after admitting payments to an illegal immigrant, Chavez and her immediate family members have used phone banks and direct-mail solicitations to raise tens of millions of dollars, founding several political action committees with bankable names: the Republican Issues Committee, the Latino Alliance, Stop Union Political Abuse and the Pro-Life Campaign Committee. Their solicitations promise direct action in the “fight to save unborn lives,” a vigorous struggle against “big labor bosses” and a crippling of “liberal politics in the country.”
That’s not where the bulk of the money wound up being spent, however. Of the $24.5 million raised by the PACs from January 2003 to December 2006, $242,000 — or 1 percent — was passed on to politicians, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal election reports. The PACs spent even less — $151,236 — on independent political activity, such as mailing pamphlets.
Instead, most of the donations were channeled back into new fundraising efforts, and some were used to provide a modest but steady source of income for Chavez and four family members, who served as treasurers and consultants to the committees. Much of the remaining funds went to pay for expenses such as furniture, auto repairs and insurance, and rent for the Sterling office the groups share. Even Chavez’s health insurance was paid for a time from political donations.
“I guess you could call it the family business,” Chavez said in an interview.
Yeah, I guess you could. She really could give pointers on shakedowns and betrayal, couldn’t she? Can you say “projection”, everyone? I knew you could.
I’m kinda bummed that her little scam’s been exposed. Chavez’s efforts have kept at least a cool $24 million out of the hands of Republican campaigns over the past four years, and I hope that she continues to divert GOP donations from their intended targets for years to come.