Who is Behind the DCCC’s Phantom Hawaii Pollster?

Chris Good at the Atlantic writes about the battle between Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case in Hawaii:

Right now, the race is close: according to a Democratic source, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has conducted an internal poll showing Case at 32%, Djou at 32%, Hanabusa at 27%, and 9% undecided.

Since nobody but Good knows who the source of this “leak” is, nobody can go back and check this highly dubious poll or its methodology.  But now that he’s injected it into the discourse, it’s out there and it’s doing damage — whether someone just made it up or not.

He continues, “The DCCC is airing an ad in the race attacking Djou, but not taking sides between the Democrats.”  Well, unless you count the leaking of phantom polls intended to damage Hanabusa constitutes “taking sides.”

The DCCC’s efforts to meddle in a race that Hanabusa was clearly winning is unique.  Obama has historically taken a strong hand to urge challengers out of primary races against Democrats.  He personally called Steve Israel and asked him not to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand for the New York Senate seat, and also helped in the effort to “clear the field” for Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania when Joe Sestak was asked to drop his primary challenge.  So it’s extremely odd that he’s not intervening in the Hanbusa-Case matter to urge Case out, especially since Case’s entry into a three way race certainly risks throwing the seat to the Republican.

Ed Case is the cousin of Steve Case, the former CEO and Chairman of AOL who merged the company with Time Warner and stepped down in October of 2005.  In 2006, he founded a holding company called Revolution LLC.   The board of directors includes a who’s-who of “government insiders, venture capitalists, high-tech veterans” and “banished executives” including Franklin Raines, Ted Leonsis, Carlie Fiorina, Colin Powell and James L. Barksdale.  (Raines made a soft landing at Revolution a week after he stepped down from the board of Fannie Mae, and went on to advise the Obama campaign on mortgage and policy matters.)

Revolution has invested in  Gaiam, Zipcar, as well as Revolution Money, a competitor to PayPal.  In 2007, Larry Summers served on the board of Revolution when they raised $50 million from Citi, Morgan Stanley and Deutche  Bank to launch Revolution Money.  Last year they announced they had raised another $42 million from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.   In Nobember of last year, American Express announced they would buy Revolution Money for $300 million.

The White House has a very close relationship with major finance and tech companies, and Case seems to straddle both worlds.  He’s been a big supporter of his cousin Ed, and he’s also a former classmate of Barack Obama at Punahou School in Hawaii (Case graduate in ’76, Obama in ’79).  He’s a fierce Republican, however, so there’s no history of political loyalty, but Larry Summers’ presence on the Revolution board is probably more indicative of the dynamics at play.

While most articles on the Case-Hanabusa contratemps note what an embarrassment it would be to Obama to lose the Hawaii seat to a Republican, few explore the fact that it’s extremely unlikely that the White House has not been consulted in this matter.  Or that the DCCC would most certainly not be taking this highly controversial course if Obama opposed it.

Hanabusa isn’t some flaming progressive standard bearer, but Ed Case would undoubtedly be a more “business friendly” vote in Congress — and his ties go all the way to to the top of that intricately networked world.   Most people I’ve spoken to on the Hill think it’s simply a matter of an available Congressional seat, and the fact that business interests are always going to want to have a Jim Himes rather than an Alan Grayson fill it.  Ed Case is the favorite in a world that Obama and the Democratic establishment see their future in servicing.  And right now, the Democrats are in fierce competition with the GOP for money controlled by that world:

Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio made a pitch to Democratic contributor James Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan, over drinks at a Capitol Hill restaurant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Boehner told Mr. Dimon congressional Republicans had stood up to Mr. Obama’s efforts to curb pay and impose new regulations. The Republican leader also said he was disappointed many on Wall Street continue to donate their money to Democrats, according to the people familiar with the matter.

It’s the same battle that went on during health care.  Recall the letter from Boehner to PhRMA’s Billy Tauzin, which read like a “come home, baby” letter from an abusive husband filled with remorse.

Our business overlords would rather see Case in the seat than Hanabusa.  The DCCC’s willingness to float opposition research or push phantom polling against her is probably considered a small price to pay in that battle.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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