More on The Club for Growth’s smear of Mike Huckabee
"Emmett", a commenter who has joined the discussion, has rightly pointed out that my original post did not make the proper distinctions between Jackson (Jack) Stephens who passed away in 2005, and his son Jackson (Steve) Stephens, Jr.
I have edited the original post, and referred to the father as Jack, and the son as Steve. In addition, supplemental text and linkage were added for clarity.
here is a cache of the original post.
Mochtar Riady. The Lippo Group. James Riady. BCCI. John Huang. Maria Hsia. Webster Hubbell. The names sound like a roll-call from the Clinton scandals of the '90's. It also includes the name of the man described as "the major financier of Bill Clinton's political career;" Arkansas billionaire Jack Stephens. According to Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, "No group raised more money for the Clinton Presidential campaign" than the Stephens Group. "
The list is long. It crosses party lines and international borders. It is a list that has less to do with politics, and more to do with the exercise of raw power. And, at the top of the list is the Stephens family.
In an attempt to understand why the supposedly conservative Club for Growth is determined to destroy the campaign of Mike Huckabee, it is helpful to understand that Jackson Stephens, Jr. (Steve) gets what he wants. So, when Mike Huckabee opposed him in Arkansas, he did what very few had dared to do. In 2002, Huckabee decided to oppose a voter initiative to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and medicine, an effort that Stephens was helping to fund. Tensions got so bad between the two that Stephens told a local newspaper Huckabee had become a "tax and spender."
Steve Stephens didn't get what he wanted, so he decided, it seems, to get political revenge instead.
Not even the sitting President and Vice-President of the United States would stand up to the Stephens family. In a July 19, 1992 campaign speech in Weirton, West Virginia, Al Gore blasted Waste Technologies Industries (WTI), a hazardous waste incinerator project in nearby East Liverpool, Ohio, and a major pet project of Jack Stephens.
"The very idea of putting WTI in a flood plain, it's just unbelievable to me. I'll tell you this, a Clinton-Gore administration is going to give you an environmental presidency to deal with these problems. We'll be on your side for a change," Gore said. The incinerator's location -- in a minority neighborhood, 100 yards from houses and 400 yards from an elementary school -- made it a particularly photogenic instance of the "environmental terrorism" Gore had derided in his book Earth in the Balance.
In December 1992, Vice President-elect Gore asked, "for the safety and health of local residents," that a General Accounting Office investigation of WTI be conducted before a crucial test burn permit was issued. Yet in March of 1993, after months of reviews and audits, the Clinton EPA opted not to oppose plans to begin commercial operations at the site. Some would call it a triumph of levelheadedness over environmental alarmism -- noting that none of the allegations against the WTI site have been confirmed except for an initial, failed test-burn. Others, citing the Clintons' personal ties to the waste project, are calling it a triumph for Jack Stephens.
Jack Stephens was known to play both sides of the political fence. "In 1991, Jack Stephens contributed $100,000 to the Republican Party for Bush's presidential campaign, and Stephens Inc. "kicked in another $100,000." Stephens wife was the Arkansas co-chairman of the Bush for President campaign. He and his wife were hosts to the Inaugural party for President Bush in 1989. In addition, Stephens brokered the deal that allowed the Union Bank of Switzerland (a BCCI-connected bank, that also financed and ultimately owns the WTI incinerator project) to rescue a Harken Energy project that George W. Bush was involved with in 1987. When Harken needed help, Stephens was there. A meeting in Little Rock was set up "between Harken officials and Jack Stephens that produced an unusual rescue plan. Stephens obtained a $25 million cash infusion for Harken from Union Bank of Switzerland, which rarely invested in small American companies."
Add to the list The Club for Growth.net. CfG has criticized other Republican candidates for their fiscal records, but has only run ads against Mike Huckabee, who has been ticking up in the national polls in recent weeks. Salon.com reports "the ads had been paid for by a spin-off group called Club for Growth.net, which files regular disclosures through the Internal Revenue Service. A quick review of those filings showed that the group had taken in no new money in 2007. But in the second half of 2006, a Little Rock neighbor and political rival of Huckabee’s named Jackson T. “Steve” Stephens Jr. had given the group $125,000, including a $50,000 check just days before the 2006 election, when it was too late to spend more on that election.
A member of one of Arkansas’ richest families, Stephens also serves as chairman of Club for Growth.net, along with his Arkansas business associate, Gary Faulkner. Other than Steve Stephens, only one other six-figure donor to CfG.net shows up in the 2006 records, John Childs, a secretive, Boston-based financier and longtime Club for Growth funder, who has also given money to Mitt Romney's campaign."
Steve Stephens, who served on the Board for The Club for Growth in 2004, and the Stephens family have donated some $1.4 million to the Club for Growth. Stephens has ranked consistently among Club for Growth’s leading donors, according to disclosure filings. In the 2004 election cycle, his $ 800,000 in contributions made him Club for Growth’s No. 1 benefactor, ahead of better-known business figures such as Robert McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, and Richard Scaife of Tribune-Review Publishing.
CfG's attack-dog, Pat Toomey, understands who the boss is. And the when the boss says "Jump," Pat Toomey simply asks, "How high?" Toomey is no fool. He understands who pays the bills, and that those who made him, can just as easily break him. The Club for Growth Club touts itself as the inheritor of Ronald Reagan’s “vision of limited government and lower taxes." Toomey, dismisses the suggestion that his organization have undermined the Republican Party by forcing the national committee to spend money on otherwise safe seats.
Indeed, there is nothing wrong with defending one's self interest. CfG states that the mission of their PAC is to help elect lawmakers who will vote to enact pro-growth policies in the federal government. I do wonder, however, what the mission of the newly launced 501(c)(4) will be in light of the settlement with the FEC. Perhaps they will truly embrace pro-growth taxation, and do a white paper on The Fair Tax. Until that happens, the Club's willingness to do the bidding of their largest contributors shows their motives to be suspect, and their tactics less than transparent.
Michael Reagan is known to tell the story of a well known California millionaire who walked into Ronald Reagan's office while he was governor. He came with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unmarked bills in paper bags and wanted to donate to the cause. Ronald Reagan of course refused which really took the guy back. He wasn't accustomed to this type of response.
Mike Huckabee also refused to follow the marching orders of power, money and influence. No amount of smear from CfG is going to change that fact.