Who is Elizabeth Warren? Her fundraising tactics provide a clue

It’s not easy to distinguish the policy positions of Elizabeth Warren from those of avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. Yet, the establishment fears Sanders and seems comfortable enough with Warren.

Why? I think it’s because they suspect that Warren’s radicalism isn’t nearly as sincere as Sanders’s.

This New York Times article about Warren’s fundraising confirms both the establishment’s comfort with Warren and her lack of sincerity. The Times documents that Warren raised large amounts of money from establishment donors during her campaign for reelection to the Senate in 2018:

On the highest floor of the tallest building in Boston, Senator Elizabeth Warren was busy collecting big checks from some of the city’s politically connected insiders. It was April 2018 and Ms. Warren, up for re-election, was at a breakfast fund-raiser hosted for her by John M. Connors Jr., one of the old-guard power brokers of Massachusetts.

Soon after, Ms. Warren was in Manhattan doing the same. There would be trips to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, Martha’s Vineyard and Philadelphia — all with fund-raisers on the agenda. She collected campaign funds at the private home of at least one California megadonor, and was hosted by another in Florida. She held finance events until two weeks before her all-but-assured re-election last November.

Bernie Sanders has never raised that kind of money from this donor class. He hasn’t wanted to, and couldn’t if he did.

Soon after securing reelection, Warren announced her bid for the presidency. She funded her campaign, in the first instance, with the money she had raised from big donors when running for the Senate. At the same time, Warren made a splash with the Democratic left by announcing that her presidential campaign would not raise money from big donors:

The open secret of Ms. Warren’s campaign is that her big-money fund-raising through 2018 helped lay the foundation for her anti-big-money run for the presidency. Last winter and spring, she transferred $10.4 million in leftover funds from her 2018 Senate campaign to underwrite her 2020 run, a portion of which was raised from the same donor class she is now running against.

The early money Warren transferred to her presidential campaign has made a big difference. According to the Times, Warren was able to invest early in a massive political organization — spending 87 cents of every dollar she raised in early 2019 — without fear of bankrupting her bid. The money also gave her a financial backstop to lessen the risk of forgoing traditional fundraisers.

Ed Rendell, the epitome of an establishment insider, says of Warren: “Can you spell hypocrite?” Rendell recruited donors to attend an intimate fund-raising dinner for Warren last year at a Philadelphia steakhouse where the famed cheese steak goes for $120. He said he received a “glowing thank-you letter” from Warren afterward.

But when Rendell co-hosted a fundraiser for Joe Biden this spring, the Warren campaign derided the affair as “a swanky private fund-raiser for wealthy donors.” Says Rendell:

She didn’t have any trouble taking our money the year before. All of a sudden, we were bad guys and power brokers and influence-peddlers. In 2018, we were wonderful.

Warren’s hypocrisy bothers Rendell and, I assume, certain other donors who are supporting Biden. But there’s little evidence that they fear what she would do in the White House.

Sure, they would prefer Biden, whom they see as safer and more likely to defeat Trump. But Warren doesn’t alarm them the way Sanders does. Otherwise, presumably, they would not have been so generous to her in 2018.

Who is the real Elizabeth Warren, the friend of the Democratic establishment or its scourge? To me, she’s just an ambitious pol who, if elected president, will try to straddle the line. Just as she has with her fundraising.

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