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

November 2017

Monumental Error

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Star Search

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Pushing the Limit

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bumpy Ride

Bad Dog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Preaching to The Choir

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Star Search·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 3, 2016, less than a month after Donald Trump was elected president, Amanda Litman sat alone on the porch of a bungalow in Costa Rica, thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton’s director of email marketing, Litman raised $180 million and recruited 500,000 volunteers over the course of the campaign. She had arrived at the Javits Center on Election Night, arms full of cheap beer for the campaign staff, minutes before the pundits on TV announced that Clinton had lost Wisconsin. Later that night, on her cab ride home to Brooklyn, Litman asked the driver to pull over so she could throw up.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
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
Article
Bumpy Ride·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One sunny winter afternoon in western Michigan, I took a ride with Leon Slater, a slight sixty-four-year-old man with a neatly trimmed white beard and intense eyes behind his spectacles. He wore a faded blue baseball cap, so formed to his head that it seemed he slept with it on. Brickyard Road, the street in front of Slater’s home, was a mess of soupy dirt and water-filled craters. The muffler of his mud-splattered maroon pickup was loose, and exhaust fumes choked the cab. He gripped the wheel with hands leathery not from age but from decades moving earth with big machines for a living. What followed was a tooth-jarring tour of Muskegon County’s rural roads, which looked as though they’d been carpet-bombed.

Photograph by David Emitt Adams
Article
Bad Dog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Abby was a breech birth but in the thirty-one years since then most everything has been pretty smooth. Sweet kid, not a lot of trouble. None of them were. Jack and Stevie set a good example, and she followed. Top grades, all the way through. Got on well with others but took her share of meanness here and there, so she stayed thoughtful and kind. There were a few curfew or partying things and some boys before she was ready, and there was one time on a school trip to Chicago that she and some other kids got caught smoking crack cocaine, but that was so weird it almost proved the rule. No big hiccups, master’s in ecology, good state job that lets her do half time but keep benefits while Rose is little.

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Number of cast members of the movie Predator who have run for governor:

3

A Georgia Tech engineer created software that endows unmanned aerial drones with a sense of guilt.

Roy Moore, a 70-year-old lawyer and Republican candidate for the US Senate who once accidentally stabbed himself with a murder weapon while prosecuting a case in an Alabama courtroom, was accused of having sexually assaulted two women, Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, while he was an assistant district attorney in his thirties and they were 14 and 16 years old, respectively.

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