As tension continues to escalate between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party, it was only a matter of time before a champion of the good old spending days cashed in on protecting the status quo. Steve LaTourette, a former congressman from Ohio, is eagerly seizing the opportunity to profit from the Washington, D.C., revolving door of special interests.
Since leaving Congress at the end of 2012, LaTourette has angled to be a self-appointed Tea Party slayer. This should come as no surprise, given LaTourette’s record during his time in Congress. During his 18-year tenure, he consistently voted against spending cuts and to protect the interests of transportation and building trade unions—his largest campaign contributors. The core mission of the Tea Party to limit spending and increase government transparency runs counter to LaTourette’s entire history as a congressman.
During the past year, he has aggressively sought the media spotlight to criticize the Tea Party and the members of Congress they helped elect. He has been a frequent guest on MSNBC to take gratuitous shots at the Tea Party movement and principled conservative Congress members.
LaTourette wants to stop what he calls “Manchurian candidates”—Tea Party-backed candidates for Congress who win the Republican primary, but can’t beat out their Democratic opponents. To do this, he plans to aggressively defend establishment candidates and challenge the Tea Party candidates in primary battles.
LaTourette has established an elaborate infrastructure to meet his goal, called Main Street Advocacy, which has an allied super PAC called Defending Main Street. According to CNN, “LaTourette’s goal is to raise up to $10 million to support as many as 10 Republican incumbents in the 2014 elections.”
Former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe from Maine has joined in his effort to protect establishment incumbents. Part of his effort also includes running ads against organizations like the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks that have backed principled, fiscally conservative candidates.
“The reason Democrats control the Senate is thanks to the efforts of the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party,” claims an ad titled the “Senate Candidates Hall of Shame” on the Main Street Advocacy website.
As a former elected member of the GOP establishment, LaTourette sees a market opportunity to support special interests by challenging Tea Party organizations and members of Congress that dare to act to reduce the size and scope of government.
In addition to his political advocacy efforts, LaTourette also heads a new lobbying shop called McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies—a subsidiary of McDonald Hopkins LLC.
Upon closer inspection, LaTourette’s effort is not really about bringing centrist ways to govern, but about setting up a sophisticated get rich scheme through multiple avenues. By using Main Street Advocacy to replace true limited-government congressmen with big-government members, he can help his lobbying clients profit from government growth.
Certainly, any member who got elected with LaTourette’s help would be in a position to grant a political favor to their benefactor. Big business, frustrated over Tea Party-backed efforts to cut spending, would be natural allies and clients for both of LaTourette’s organizations. As a big backer of infrastructure spending, LaTourette could also get support from the unions that previously donated to his reelection campaigns.
Even the name Main Street Advocacy reeks of hypocrisy. LaTourette is seeking money from big business donors including Wall Street, and his recent November 5 fundraiser was held in NYC, far from his so-called “main street.”
LaTourette represents everything that is wrong with our revolving door political system in general, and specifically with the Republican establishment. He and his RINO protection fund must be challenged. Far too many Republicans think the government is an institution to manage for their personal ends. It is not. Now more than ever we need principled leaders who will work to protect the freedoms of all Americans—not establishment Republicans who will give lavish kickbacks to the people who help get them into office.
Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a senior fellow with FreedomWorks, a grassroots service center to a community of over 6 million activists who believe in individual liberty and constitutionally limited government.