Astroturf was originally the term used for fake grass, made out of plastic and other synthetic materials, installed as a replacement for turf in highly-used sports fields. These days, the term is more frequently used to describe political operations that pretend to be grassroots efforts organized by the rank and file as a result of popular demand, while they’re really top-down inventions created through big spending by wealthy individuals or corporations.
An awful lot of astroturf has been spotted this year in the area around Southfield, a suburb to the northwest of Detroit, and a hub of power in the 14th congressional district of Michigan. The Democratic primary in the district takes place in just one month, and one organization that has involved itself in the political battle there is the Grassroots Organizing Acting & Leading PAC – known as GOALPAC for short.
The 14th district race is attracting a great deal of attention, because the incumbent, U.S. Representative Gary Peters, has decided to run for U.S. Senate rather than to seek re-election. There are four different Democratic politicians competing for their party’s nomination for the seat.
One of these candidates, Rudy Hobbs, has attracted the support of the Grassroots Organizing Acting & Leading PAC. Just yesterday, the organization spent over $42,000 to promote the Hobbs for Congress campaign.
Where did the money to that GOALPAC used to support Hobbs come from? Was it from typical rank and file Democratic voters in Michigan, as the name Grassroots Organizing Acting & Leading suggests?
Far from it.
First of all, the Grassroots Organizing Acting & Leading PAC isn’t really a Michigan organization. It’s a political operation that’s run out of the nation’s capital, with a mailing address in Bethesda, Maryland, and a bank account set up at a branch located at 730 15th St NW, Washington D.C. The accountants who keep books for GOALPAC work out of an office at Suite 590, 1050 17th St NW, Washington D.C.
Second, the sources of the money that the Grassroots Organizing Acting & Leading PAC spends are anything but grassroots. Top contributors include:
Also contributing big checks to GOALPAC are the political action committees of:
The cash is not coming from the salt of the earth, so the heavy involvement of lobbyists and corporate PACs in propping up the congressional candidacy of Ruby Hobbs should lead discerning Michigan voters to ask: Exactly who will Ruby Hobbs owe favors to, if he is elected as the 14th district’s next representative in Congress?