Hints: Unity08 May Depend on the Bloomberg Bankroll
Hints are emerging that Unity08 may be looking for a Sugar Daddy. These are just hints, for which I have no proof, but I see them as hints nonetheless.
It’s easy to dismiss the Unity 08 organization — after all, we’re talking about the people whose operation has been riddled with error in its very small-scale data collection, processing and reporting procedures and yet promises that it will hold the first ever national secure online presidential nomination, which to be successful must have a very large scale and be very accurate. We’re talking about the people who railed against the prominent role lobbyists play in the political process — while bringing lobbyists into prominent positions on its very own rules committee, and excusing its choices by saying on the one hand that you have to be part of elite insider politics to know how to fix it (so much for “grassroots”), and by saying on the other hand that they don’t know who else in their leadership might be lobbyists, because they don’t check for that sort of thing. We’re talking about the people who pledged that “Our effort will be funded through small-dollar donations from people like you” while they were suing the FEC in DC District Court to be able to take unlimited donations from people who are decidedly not like you. An operation so at odds with itself cannot possibly succeed, you might think.
Then come these hints.
We cannot predict when we will hear from potential candidates. But, we have been talking to some, on a confidential basis….
We have made great strides in presenting our case to potential candidates, all of whom we have briefed on a confidential basis….
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is another strong contender for a center-right independent bid â€” he could write any size check to fund a campaign, and a bipartisan team at Unity â€™08 is working to line up ballot access that might ease the way for a third-party run. Bloomberg has been reaching out across the aisle to Democrats like Al From, who heads the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
Kevin Sheekey, a deputy mayor and Bloomberg’s close adviser who is credited with masterminding his landslide re-election last year, makes no secret of the fact that he is urging the billionaire to jump in and shake up the race.
Aides acknowledge that Bloomberg quietly sought advice from veteran political operatives. They say he also asked his lawyers to investigate what it would take to get on a general election ballot, though he is said to have concluded the state-by-state process is too bothersome.
Sheekey himself has met with the founders of Unity08, a fledgling alternative to the two parties that is trying to position itself as the vehicle for a centrist run at the White House. Unity08’s goal is to provide such a campaign with a ready-made political and financial base of 20 million voters and to help navigate the complicated ballot access system….
He has money, money and more money. He spent more than $70 million of his own money in his first mayoral campaign, then he dropped $85 million into his re-election effort and doesn’t have to worry about getting an early start to hit the political donor circuit.
All that has created Bloomberg buzz in Democratic and Republican circles.
“He is a man of immense financial capacity,” observed former Democratic Party Chairman Donald Fowler. “He can spend $10 or $20 million and not miss it anymore than you or I would if we visited McDonald’s.”
All hints, just hints, no proof. But if the hints of a Bloomberg-Unity08 teamup have a basis in reality, then watch out. All Unity08 has to do is survive until next year with its name intact, when Bloomberg can bring his billions to bear in a presidential campaign. In fact, if Unity08 is successful in its lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission, Bloomberg doesn’t have to wait until next year. He can give Unity08 a gigantic undisclosed loan to be paid back later, when the campaign is in full swing.
Is somebody already bankrolling the plan? Anya T. Harris informed me in last week’s phone call that the lobbying and law firm Steptoe and Johnson’s own Thomas Collier (himself a lobbyist and lawyer) has not been paid a red cent — yet. Harris told me that Collier is deferring payment because he had judged that Unity08’s plan would be a success, and that Unity08 would soon have the money necessary to pay his bill. In last Friday’s controlled “chat”, Unity08 co-Founder Jerry Rafshoon informed the public that “We have a vast army of lawyers throughout the country preparing to challenge our challengers.” With less than $500,000 raised last year and nearly $500,000 spent on other expenses, Unity08 cannot have the money to fund “a vast army of lawyers throughout the country” already engaged in their work. If it cannot pay the lawyers, how could it possibly have convinced this “vast army” to do so many hours of billable work? What do the lawyers know about Unity08’s sources of donations and loans that we do not?
The matters of the last paragraph are based on what we’ve been directly told. The Bloomberg connection comes from hints, just hints. No proof. And of course there’s no proof: as you can see above, the conversants in these matters are sworn to secrecy. This is just my speculation, and not a matter of fact (and yes, that statement was for the “vast army of lawyers throughout the country preparing to challenge our challengers.”) But it’s something to watch for, and it’s why Unity08 may not be the joke it appears to be.