During the first weekend in April, Republican leaders in the House and Senate held a retreat with the Republican Main Street Partnership on Florida's Amelia Island. No ordinary conservative political powwow, the meeting brought together establishment Republicans and leftist-supported advocacy groups, whose shared interests include neutralizing the conservative grassroots movement and passing legislative items on the Left's agenda.
The meeting was hosted at the Ritz Carlton by the Republican Main Street Partnership’s offshoot “Main Street Advocacy.” Former Ohio Congressman and left-wing Republican Steve LaTourette fronts the group.
How left-wing? In 2013, Yahoo reported that LaTourette was ready to drop the word “Republican” from the Republican Main Street Partnership and accept Democrats into the fold. A month later, he partially backed off, insisting the group wouldn’t support Democrats even if it changed its name—while he still maintained the group would "work collaboratively with anybody who wants to find common sense solutions.” Yet in a series of articles for entities such as Politico, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, LaTourette made it clear that he sees conservatives as the primary source of congressional dysfunction.
Moreover, behind the scenes, the Republican Main Street Partnership established an affiliation with the Defending Main Street PAC. That organization is dedicated to targeting as many as ten primary races in the 2014 election cycle, with the goal of helping establishment Republicans defeat conservative candidates. "We're getting a lot of calls to not only defend but go in and defend a lot of center right candidates against a couple of incumbents in Michigan," LaTourette told the leftist Talking Points Memo in December 2013. "We haven't made that decision yet because I have to sort out in my own head because the name of the thing is Defending Main Street and I'm basically criticizing people for sticking their nose in Republican primaries.”
RedState's Erick Erickson compiled a list of contributors to Defending Main Street PAC. Further exploration of those contributors reveals the disturbing level of collaboration between Republican leadership and their leftist supporters. They include David Bonderman, the multi-billionaire founder of Ft. Worth, Texas-based TPG Capital. His campaign contributions have overwhelmingly favored Democratic candidates, as well as Democrat PACs and Super-PACs.
Overall political contributions by another member of the list, the Laborers' International Union Of North America (LIUNA), reveals a similar story. From 1999-2012 they donated 83.1 percent of their campaign funds to Democrats, compared to 0.63 percent to the GOP. In the 2014 election cycle, 89 percent of their campaign funds have gone to Democrats and 11 percent to Republicans. One of their subsidiaries, the Laborers' Political League Education Fund, also contributed to Defending Main Street.
Then there is the International Union of Operating Engineers that has also overwhelmingly supported Democrats over Republicans for the past 24 years. The same goes for Working for Working Americans-Federal (a Building Trades/Carpenters PAC). They made a $1 million contribution on March 4th to the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic Super PAC. And finally there is the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association Political Action Fund that supports Democrats over Republicans 78 percent to 21 percent.
Erickson further reveals that the "Mainstreet Partnership has multiple offshoots all housed on the 6th floor of a 7th Street office in Washington, D.C.” Columnist Michelle Malkin drilled deeper into that "tangled web of GOP establishment outfits” and discovered that Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, Main Street Partnership's chief operating and financial officer, also serves as an officer on the Main Street Individual Fund (MSIF). The MSIF received a $50,000 contribution from billionaire leftist George Soros soon after it was created. Soros attempted to make a seven-figure contribution to the Main Street Partnership, but it was declined. Malkin further explains that while these organizations are legally independent on paper, they "have shared staff and legal resources.”
These are some of the entities behind the meeting that took place on Amelia Island, where those attending paid $5,000 apiece for the privilege, according to the invitation sent out for the event.
Texas Republican Louie Gohmert has vocally spoken out against the meeting. Speaking with FrontPage, he described his take on Amelia Island and the GOP’s contempt for its own base of supporters. "Although I personally like the leader of the 'Main Street Partnership,' this group has the avowed purpose now of destroying the very grassroots people that gave Republicans the majority in 2010 and 2012,” Gohmert explains.
One of the clearest dividing lines between the establishment GOP and their conservative counterparts is the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. Thus it was no surprise that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who was to attend the conference before backing off (but lending his support to it nonetheless), felt free to criticize his colleagues, who take a dim view of legalizing 11 million illegal aliens through a new amnesty program. "Here's the attitude. Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard," Boehner whined at a meeting of the Middletown Rotary Club in Madison Township.
Gohmert has a far different take on immigration. He told FrontPage that one of the most divisive issues facing his party is the failure to secure the borders. He was even less enthused with comprehensive immigration reform, along with the conventional wisdom that pegs the number of illegals in the country at 11 million.
"In 1986, Republicans including President Reagan were misled into believing there were only about 1 million people illegally in this country when there were more like 4 million. President Reagan signing that bill is considered to be perhaps his biggest mistake,” Gohmert says.
Once anyone illegally here is given legal status, they will shortly thereafter be given the ability to obtain legal status for others in their families. Since the border is still not secured and it is likely personal statements of arrival dates will be accepted, you will see millions come rushing in so they can claim legal status. We need substantial immigration reform, but border patrol agents tell me when "legal status" or "amnesty" is even mentioned, many times, more rush to get into the U.S.
“While I love and respect the Hispanic culture that believes in God, loves family, and works hard, we must have a secure border before any immigration reform bill is passed,” he added.
Gohmert is a staunch Tea Party supporter and has established a GOH Conservative PAC aimed at helping them and other conservative Republicans defend themselves. Once again, that puts him at odds with people like Boehner, who had some choice words for tea party members and their advocates. "I’ve gone to hundreds of tea party events over the last four years,” he claimed.
The makeup is pretty much the same. You’ve got some disaffected Republicans, disaffected Democrats. You always have a handful of anarchists. They are against everything. Eighty percent of the people at these events, are the most ordinary Americans you’ve ever met. None of whom have ever been involved in politics. We in public service respect the fact that they brought energy to the political process….I made it pretty clear I’ll stand with the tea party but I’m not standing with these three or four groups in Washington who are using the tea party for their own personal benefit.
But he’ll stand with the conglomeration of left-wing groups and Republican Party leaders who gathered on Amelia Island.
He is hardly alone. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) did in fact attend the confab on Amelia Island. His spokesman, Douglas Heye, defended the visit. “This is classic judging a speaker by the audience,” he said. "We need to present conservative solutions to all audiences, and grow both our grass roots and our majority so we can stop President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda.”
Ron Maxwell, an Independent living in Cantor’s district, wasn’t buying it. He characterized those attending the meeting as the "big-business, cheap-labor wing of the Republican Party, not the mom-and-pop store owners, the startups, the entrepreneurs, the small-business people.”
He further illuminated the rift. “The Main Street Republicans have become an echo chamber for the left,” he explained. “They correctly see grass-roots conservatives and the tea party as the authentic base of the GOP and therefore a threat to the levers of power that the party's behind-the-scenes leaders—the Bushes, Karl Roves and Haley Barbours—control. They’re terrorists in their own party. They label Republicans who don’t agree with them as extremists,” he added.
What’s really extremist is a Republican Party that fails to offer a clear alternative to progressive Democratic ideology. The Amelia Island retreat and the GOP’s effort to curry favor—and raise money—among “supporters" whose ultimate interest is the elimination of the GOP, not its reinvigoration, is symptomatic of that reality.
Gohmert has his fellow Republicans pegged in that regard. "It is the height of arrogance to refuse to thank those who provided Republicans with the majority and the height of ignorance to think Republicans can keep the House majority and gain the Senate majority by destroying those same grass roots, all-American patriots,” he declared. "That is why George Soros groups and anti-Republican union groups are supporting the 'Main Street' establishment effort. It is also of utmost concern that current Republican leadership would be so blind as to support the effort of destroying their own base."
It is an effort that may be at least partially reflected in a recent Rasmussen poll released this month. A full 53 percent of likely voters now believe that “neither party in Congress is the party of the American people.” That number rises to a staggering 65 percent among the increasing number of voters unaffiliated with either party. Perhaps the GOP’s fortunes would be better served appealing to that particular demographic—one that might be swayed by something other than a Democratic-lite agenda.
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