GOP Donors' Favorite Dem Kyrsten Sinema Spent Last Week In Europe For Some Important Reason

National Politics

It's been three months since Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema declared her opposition to Joe Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation bill, and no one has any idea what she actually wants. She's said she won't negotiate in public through the media, and she doesn't negotiate all that much in private with other Democrats. Sounds like she's a bad negotiator, unless her intent to not negotiate at all.

Mother Jones reports that during the past six weeks, as Sinema stalled and frustrated Democrats nationwide, some high-profile GOP donors have maxed out their legal contributions to her.

Stan Hubbard, a Minnesota billionaire who since at least 2000 has regularly written six-figure checks to the RNC and who supported GOP presidential hopefuls like Scott Walker (before giving to a pro-Trump super-PAC) wrote Sinema a $2,900 check on Sept. 29. And both Jimmy Haslam, the owner of the Pilot truck stop chain and the NFL's Cleveland Brown's, and his wife Susan gave Sinema's campaign $2,900 a piece on Septemeber 30. Haslam is a reliable GOP donor who has given at least $425,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund—a super-PAC set up by allies of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell to help the GOP take control of the Senate—as well as regular maximum donations to the GOP's House and Senate party committees.

Hmmm. That seems suspicious.


Marc Rowan, the billionaire CEO of private equity giant Apollo, and his wife, Carolyn, wrote two $2,900 checks to Sinema's campaign on September 29. The Rowans are normally aligned with Senate Majority Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund, so contributing to Sinema, who's theoretically a Democrat, would seem counter to McConnell's goal of reclaiming the Senate. Sinema only recently flipped Jeff Flake's former seat, so hers would seem especially vulnerable in 2024.

Private equity executive Anthony De Nicola, who's sent six-figure checks to the Senate Leadership Fund, and regularly maxed out contributions to the GOP's Senate party committee, also donated $2,900 to Sinema on September 29. This was the same week Sinema swore up and down that she was “negotiating in good faith" while her McConnell-approved bipartisan infrastructure deal was decoupled from the reconciliation bill with no guarantee that she'd support the latter. No wonder Sinema was so pissed when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called her bluff and delayed the BIF vote.

We have no evidence that Sinema's been “bought off," as some folks claim, and these donations are perfectly legal. However, you'd hope a Democrat in good standing would reject such a corrupt system rather than openly embrace it. She's attended fancy fundraisers at a Phoenix spa and met with business groups that want her to kill reconciliation dead. Meanwhile, she's actively hidden from the people she's set to screw over. It's unconscionable that she won't hold town halls right now and face the public, while piously claiming her vote “belongs" to Arizonians. That's not what the receipts say.

People claim the gun lobby “owns" GOP Senator Marco Rubio, but he's always been a reliable NRA stooge opposed to any reasonable gun safety legislation. And if major abortion rights groups flooded Ted Cruz with donations, he'd likely return the checks uncashed because he wouldn't want to align himself with what they represent. He has an image to protect, and it's gross and repulsive, but at least we know where he stands. The far-right PACs behind Rubio, Cruz, and other Republicans make sense. They get what they paid for.

According to Open Secrets, Sinema's top contributors to her 2018 Senate campaign were Emily's List and Democracy Engine. Emily's List supports pro-choice candidates who are affirmatively progressive. Sinema has teamed up with GOP Senator John Cornyn from Texas to address the so-called “border crisis," but she could be saying a hell of a lot more about Texas's assault on abortion rights. When Sinema declared her Senate candidacy in 2017, Emily's List said, "Arizona Republican Party honchos must be breathing into paper bags today." We're sure those Republicans are far less stressed today.

Sinema, who's not up for re-election until 2024, spent last week fundraising in Europe. (That's probably a better example of an MIA public servant than Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg taking paternity leave.) Her spokesperson claimed she was helping raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but she wasn't billed as appearing at Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters's fundraising event last Wednesday in London.

The senator's office reportedly wouldn't reveal how long her grand tour of the continent would last, what countries she's visiting, or who was actually paying for the trip. She back yet? Dunno.

In summary and in conclusion, she's awesome at her job.

OPEN THREAD.

[Mother Jones]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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