Everyone can afford to buy advertising space on billboards in order to spread his or her political views, right?
Everyone can buy political influence, right?
That's exactly the situation that permitted Texas-based conservative advocacy group, the Job Creators Network (JCN), to partner with CEOs of Home Depot, Pepsi, and Kraft to fund a billboard in New York City's Times Square attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ("AOC") over her opposition to Amazon's plan to construct a second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.
Behind the JCN is none other than Robert, Rebekah, and Diana Mercer, wealthy Upper West-side Manhattan Republicans who spent millions on Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) failed presidential campaign and continue pouring obscene amounts of money into GOP candidates and causes.
Unlike the Koch brothers, who are known primarily for their monetary investments in politicians, the Mercers are more technologically savvy.
They have used their connections to former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon to construct an alternative media milieu to promote the "danger of immigrants flooding to our shores," and the "swamp" Trump claimed to want to drain.
They poured money into Breitbart News, becoming part owners under Bannon's tutelage, and being therefore complicit in the nationalistic platform that helped propel Trump to the White House.
They also helped finance the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), an investigative think tank Steve Bannon co-founded.
GAI president, Peter Schweizer, authored the book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, which the Mercers' film production company, Glittering Steel, translated to film, portraying former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as captive to wealthy interests, a charge that dogged her 2016 presidential campaign.
Glittering Steel has produced films for the Mercer-funded super PAC "Make America Number 1," which, according to campaign finance filings, paid the production company about $700,000.
But they didn't stop there. The Mercers invested in Cambridge Analytica, a data science company working for the Trump campaign.
This is entirely legal thanks to three seminal Supreme Court decisions.
In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo that political campaign spending limits are unconstitutional.
Then came the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision in 2010, which cited the First Amendment to equate money with free speech.
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