A few months ago, former presidential candidate and Rep. Ron Paul was spotted penning an op-ed for Fox News urging more U.S. taxpayer dollars to be spent on buying rocket engines for defense contractor United Launch Alliance (ULA) from none other than Russia.
Now, it looks like a bunch of Paul-world may be joining him in going all in to keep taxpayer money flowing to buy these engines, and people working on the issue in Congress are starting to wonder what is going on.
In the Daily Caller’s op-ed section, Lee Enochs, author of “The Case for Rand Paul” blasts curtailment of defense spending on the rocket engines.
In the Washington Times, Bruce Fein, who claims to have written Rand Paul’s original legal challenge to warrantless surveillance, also argues for the subsidies to be maintained.
At Rare, a site edited by a former Rand Paul staffer and much-read by Paulites, a former Paul staffer also argues for keeping the money flowing.
And a former press secretary for Rand Paul makes the same kind of argument at the American Thinker.
Is this a classic case of a cult-of-personality type figure (Paul) simply influencing those who admire him and have connections to him, and causing an echo chamber to result from his opining? Or is this a swampy case of a bought-and-paid-for influence campaign playing out behind the thinnest of veils?
At the time that Ron Paul ran his Fox News op-ed, there was speculation that he was being paid for the pro-Russian engine advocacy via his non-profit, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
Observers wonder if money plowed into that effort has spread wider, especially given allegations about Paul-world buying and selling endorsements during the 2012 presidential nominating contest.
But even if one assumes for the sake of argument that money has changed hands, potentially via the Paul Institute, it doesn’t really answer the question as to where the money started off.
Was it in the bank account of ULA? In the bank account of some bit player in a some Russian influence operation? In the bank account of a random hater of Elon Musk (whose company, SpaceX, inevitably features in the op-eds since it is a competitor to ULA that does not use Russian rocket engines)?
As the old saying goes, enquiring minds want to know.
But it would really be something if the staunchly anti-defense spending Paulite flank suddenly found itself taking coin to argue for more taxpayer payouts that might be characterized by your average libertarian as Pentagon Pork.