Washington Babylon — January 24, 2008, 1:13 pm

Twofer: How Congressman Kline helped UPS and raised money for his new PAC

On July 24, 2007 a new entity called the Freedom & Security PAC registered with the Federal Election Commission. The PAC was based in Minnesota and its treasurer was named Ruth Ann Michnay, but there was no indication about for whom it was raising money or what its purpose was.

The following month, United Parcel Service held a fundraiser for the new PAC. Contributions from the company, including the cost of the event, came to $2,750. It’s not clear how much more came in at the fundraiser but during its first six months of operations the Freedom & Security PAC brought in roughly $43,000.

So what is the Freedom & Security PAC? It turns out that it is Congressman John Kline’s Leadership PAC–a type of fundraising vehicle used by members of Congress to support other politicians while simultaneously building their own political networks. Hundreds of members of Congress now run Leadership PACs, which are effectively unregulated slush funds to which donors can contribute $5,000 a year, far more than they can give to campaign treasuries.

A few years ago, former GOP Congressman Joel Hefley of Colorado introduced a bill to outlaw leadership PACs, but was unable to enlist a single cosponsor. Most members of Congress publicly disclose their ties to Leadership PACs, but they are not required to do so. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, introduced a bill in January of 2007 that would require such disclosure, but that measure is still pending.

Last year, Roll Call reported that the previously unaffiliated Freedom, Security, Prosperity PAC had been formed by Florida Congressman Connie Mack. It determined this after discovering that the majority of donors to the PAC were executives at Hooters, where Mack had previously worked as a marketing consultant. Furthermore, the PAC’s treasurer, lobbyist Craig Engle, was also the treasurer of Mack’s re-election campaign.

Similar evidence suggested that Kline was the main man behind the Freedom & Security PAC. Its treasurer, Ruth Ann Michnay, handles the books for Kline’s campaign treasury. And UPS appears to be quite fond of Kline, having contributed $15,000 to his campaign during the past three years.

One main source of UPS’s gratitude is the key role Kline played in passage of a 2006 bill that significantly reduced its pension obligations. Kline was one of four cosponsors of the legislation, which he aggressively championed, saying it would help Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines and thousands of its employees who lived in his district. “We are on the verge of completing the pension bill that will provide security and peace of mind for thousands of families across the southern Metro area, tens of thousands of Minnesotans, and tens of millions of Americans,” he said in July of 2006.

It certainly secured peace of mind for Atlanta-based UPS, which retained Federal Policy Group, one of the top lobbying firms in town, to push for the bill to pass. The New York Times identified the company as being among the biggest winners from approval of the bill. The company “has 127,000 truck drivers who participate in a special type of plan jointly run by companies and unions, called multiemployer plans,” the newspaper reported. “The bill will give the trustees of such plans new authority to take remedial action if the plans become dangerously insolvent… They will be required to notify the participants of the crisis, and be allowed to reduce certain benefits to save money.”

Several other donors to Kline’s PAC, including Lockheed Martin and Associated Builders and Contractors, also stood to benefit from Kline’s pension bill.

I called Kline’s spokesman, Troy Young, and he confirmed that Freedom & Security is his boss’s PAC, but Young said that he wasn’t able to say anything more because he worked on congressional affairs and not campaign affairs. I left a message with Kline’s office to ask about the PAC and UPS’s support for the congressman, but have not heard back. (If I do I’ll update this story.) Michnay did not return an email requesting comment.

This story was reported with help from Taimur Khan.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2018

Notes to Self

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Within Reach

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Modern Despots

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before the Deluge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Minds of Others·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Within Reach·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Before the Deluge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

Photograph from Puerto Rico by Christopher Gregory
Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Post
CamperForce·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Chance that a Silicon Valley technology company started since 1995 was founded by Indian or Chinese immigrants:

1 in 3

A gay penguin couple in China’s Polar Land zoo were ostracized by other penguins and then placed in a separate enclosure after they made repeated attempts to steal the eggs of straight penguin couples and replace them with stones.

Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today