Jason Kander wants you to know that he’s a millennial. He wants you to know he’s super outsider-y. He wants you to see him as a change candidate. What he doesn’t want is for you to know that he’s totes BFFs with a scandal-plagued Democrat megadonor law firm and DC lobbyists. But he is though.
In his senate challenge in Missouri, recent polling has caused some speculation that Secretary of State (how outsider!!) Kander might somehow have made himself a real race against incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.
A Monmouth University poll says the race is neck-and-neck, but there’s this poll showing Blunt up by 3 points and this Missouri Times poll showing him up by 4 points. Whatever you believe, it’s clear that the race is closer than Republicans would like, and that’s partly because Kander seems to have convinced a decent chunk of Missourians that he’s super outsider-y, or something, which is almost hilarious because it turns out that, like that other super outsider-y guy Donald Trump, Kander is really basically your bog-standard political insider.
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Star reported that Kander took in $25,000 from the scandal-plagued Thornton law firm which has been bankrolling Democrats using a seriously dubious donation-reimbursement scheme. Because this creates real image problems for totally-not-an-insider Kander, he’s had to give $25,000 to the US Treasury to compensate for having taken seriously dodgy people’s cash money to bankroll his campaign. Oops!
Missouri Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander’s campaign said Monday it would write a $25,000 check to the U.S. Treasury after a report surfaced that it received contributions from a law firm that handed out bonuses that may have illegally obscured the source of donations.
Kander received $25,000 from nine members of the Thornton law firm all on May 14, 2015, at a fundraiser he attended in Boston. Data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show money from Thornton employees represented the fourth-largest group of contributors to Kander’s run for the Senate.
The contributions are distinct within Kander’s war chest because they represent an apparent attempt by donors to skirt federal rules designed to limit the size of contributions and make their sources obvious.
In another way, they reflect a more ordinary pattern — that despite Kander’s promises of an outsider offering a new flavor of politics, he draws money from the same sources that have propelled Democrats to office for decades.
The legal profession vastly outdistances any other industry on the Kander ledger, pouring more than $1.3 million into his campaign.
Meantime, Democratic Party groups have contributed directly to his campaign and spent more than $6 million independently to boost his election prospects. Likewise, organized labor groups have given to his campaign and spent more than $2 million independently in an effort to propel him past Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.
Soo outsider-y, you guys! But wait, there’s more! Kander, while doing the usual Democratic thing of railing against lobbyists, turns out to be married to … an ex-lobbyist, and he and she are now fibbing about it:
Diana Kander worked for Lathrop & Gage from 2005 to 2006, following a law school internship in Washington with the prestigious firm, which features a large government relations practice. During her time at the firm, Mrs. Kander’s biography, listed on the Lathrop & Gage website, stated that she assisted in lobbying efforts before Congress. “She has also spent time working with the Washington D.C. affiliate of Lathrop & Gage by assisting in the lobbying efforts of major Midwest companies before the U.S. Congress,” reads her biography. “This work includes finding and advocating for new funding opportunities for special projects and monitoring critical developments in specific areas of the law.”
The Kander campaign pushed back aggressively, stating that her biography was an ‘aspirational biography,’ and it was not truly representative of her work at the firm.
An “aspirational biography”? Their defense is that they are liars? Guys. Come on.
The Missouri Times spoke with two current attorneys with Lathrop & Gage and both of them stated that their biographies that are listed on the firm’s website were accurate and none of them had ever heard of an “aspirational biography” being distributed by the firm.
Heh. Ya think?
Kander is named as the representative on a zoning determination permit with the City of Kansas City for Jim Starr. Kander is also listed as a “Staff/Guest” at a Kansas City Tax Increment Financing Commission meeting on December 14, 2005, representing Lathrop & Gage. She appeared at that TIF Commission meeting along with Jerome Riffle, who was a registered local lobbyist for Lathrop & Gage at the time.
Outsider-y! But wait, he’s not just married to one of those insider-y lobbyists, he seeks out others so they’ll make it rain.
Jason Kander, the Democratic challenger in Missouri’s Senate race, can already count some K Street lobbyists among his political confidants. That’s because lobbyists don’t wait until after Election Day to begin courting next year’s freshman class. Influencers are already reaching out to prospective senators and House members, hosting fundraisers and meet-and-greets at which they can provide connections and help swell candidates’ campaign coffers. Networking with candidates like Kander who are not favored to win could be seen as a waste of time and money. But the payoff could be significant if the politician beats the odds and benefits from the early overtures. “They do remember folks that were supportive of them early on, so they appreciate it a great deal,” said Cristina Antelo, whose firm, the Podesta Group, held an early event with Kander. “It’s a good way to start off a friendship over time.”
Within a week of Kander’s February announcement that he was vying for the seat of GOP Sen. Roy Blunt, Bock said he organized an informal meeting with colleagues and the new candidate. The same thing happened at the Podesta Group, where Antelo said she was sold on Kander’s military service. “We need to have that perspective up there in Congress when they’re deciding what we’re going to do about ISIS,” said Antelo, who has since donated money to Kander’s campaign, along with Bock.
Hope. Change! Other millennial things!
It’s not clear how much Missourians will think through all this before Election Day rolls around, but it will be pretty ironic if they end up voting for Trump and Kander thinking they’re some sort of anti-establishment angels, when the reality is, they’re just both more of the exact same.