From Our Future
When the history of Donald Trump's administration is written, people may point to the appointment of a Koch Brothers' operative to a little-known White House position as a turning point in Trump's evolution from unorthodox Republican candidate to doctrinaire corporate politician.
Meet Trump Legislative Director Marc Short
Think of it as a merger, or an acquisition. His administration hires suggest that Trump, who ran a heterodox and intermittently populist (if consistently bigoted) campaign, has been joining forces with the more established corporate extremism of the Republican Party establishment.
Consider Marc Short's appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs. According to the White House website, the Office of Legislative Affairs "serves as the President's primary liaison to the United States Congress, and is responsible for advancing the President's legislative agenda on Capitol Hill."
The Director of Legislative Affairs has typically been an obscure figure, plucked from a staffer job on Capitol Hill. And while the position calls for "working with Senators, Representatives, and their staffs to promote the President's priorities" (as the White House website puts it), Great Britain's Prince Phillip may have captured a key aspect of the job more pithily when he was introduced to one of Short's predecessors some years ago:
"Ah," Prince Philip said, "the spear catcher."
But Marc Short, who is reportedly Donald Trump's choice to fill the position, is more accustomed to doling out cash than he is to catching spears. It's true that Short has some Hill experience, as chief of staff to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and then-Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN).
Short isn't really a policy wonk. He's an operative in Republican and right-wing circles. After serving as finance director for Oliver North's failed senatorial campaign, Short reportedly helped Pence run the House Republican Conference, managed the Reagan Ranch, and was a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security under Bush.
The Kochs' Dark Money Man Peddled a Plan to Take Down Trump
Short is best known for his tenure as president of the Koch Brother's Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the political fund organized by the Koch Brothers to advance their far-right, pro-corporate, anti-environmental agenda. While the group describes itself as a "business league," CMD noted that its fundraising cycles much more closely resemble those of a political party, complete with high-tech voter lists and opposition research.
The Washington Post described the organization as "carefully constructed with extensive legal barriers to shield its donors" and said it operated "de facto banks" that were "feeding money to groups downstream."
Freedom Partners has reportedly cut checks for as much as $63 million to support campaigns and causes beloved by the Kochs and their allies, including anti-environmental groups, the National Rifle Association, and two different groups working to repeal Obamacare, the 60 Plus Association and the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR) run by Koch money man Sean Noble (who renamed the group American Encore.)
CPPR/American Encore created some bad headlines for the Kochs.
It was forced to pay huge fines as part of a settlement with California Attorney General -- now Senator -- Kamala Harris for activities that were described as "campaign money laundering," although Noble and the Kochs denied wrongdoing. Three other groups that received Freedom Partners funding were fined by the Federal Election Commission last year for violating campaign regulations.
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