During the Spanish Civil War, two factions of the American left sent forces to fight the forces of Franco. The socialists sent the Eugene V. Debs Column. They believed in truth in advertising.
The communists did not. They sent the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
This year’s election has spawned something called the Lincoln Project, which runs powerful anti-Trump ads on television. It holds itself out as having serious policy differences with Democrats and as opposing President Trump not out of ideological preference, but out of “fidelity to the Constitution.”
Like the Lincoln Brigade, though not as egregiously, the Lincoln Project is engaging in false advertising. David Harsanyi puts it this way:
If The Lincoln Project was exclusively campaigning against Donald Trump, one might be tempted to believe it wasn’t merely an arm of the Democratic Party. If one of its co-founders, John Weaver, hadn’t been registered as a foreign agent lobbying for a Russia-owned nuclear-energy company against U.S. sanctions not long ago, one might accept that the group believed the conspiracy theories it spreads. If the group wasn’t working against the moderate Republicans senators for the sin of supporting originalist Supreme Court justices, who will transcend the Trump presidency and help preserve the traditional constitutional order, one might believe that its mission was to preserve the system.
If you target moderates like Susan Collins and Cory Gardner — politicians who not only parted with Trump on issues but have quite un-Trumpian dispositions — you’re not working against Trumpism, you’re working against the GOP.
And you shouldn’t be calling yourself the Lincoln Project.
The media can keep calling you “Republicans,” but if you support Democrats, take Democratic Party positions, make voting for Democrats all the way down the ticket a binary choice and moral imperative, and then take most of your money from big Democratic Party donors, you’re a Democrat. That’s fine. You should embrace it.
I’m not really a fan of making a big deal over a group’s funding. Your arguments should stand on their own. I don’t care who pays you. But if you advertise your cause as something it’s not, you’re a fraud. And the biggest funders of The Lincoln Project aren’t distraught Republicans but long-time Democratic Party operatives.
Who are these Democratic Party operatives?
By far the biggest donor has been Stephen Mandel, who gave The Lincoln Project — which, as far as I can tell, produces cheap b-roll-laden ads and takes nearly 90 percent of its budget in “operating expenditures” — a million dollars. His company Lone Pine Capital, it seems, has given the Democratic Party Senate committee $497,000 this year, $248,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee, and a bunch of money to other left-wing candidates. During the 2018 cycle, Lone Pine Capital doled out $5,893,300 to Democrats. It gave $1,333,333 to Planned Parenthood.
I’m confused somewhat by one of the other top names: Arturas Kerelis, who news reports say is actually an Internet grifter named Arturas Rosenbacher. Maybe the donor is a different person. Then again, it would fit. (It looks like his donation was refunded.) Amos Hostetter, who dropped over a million dollars on the Obama Foundation, and David Geffen have been giving money to Democrats decades before Donald Trump ever ran for president or “Trumpism” existed. As has another top Lincoln Fund donor, Joshua Bekenstein, director of Bain Capital, who gave Democrats $3.5 million in 2018.
If you believe that these donors, or those who take their money, have the best interests of the conservative movement or the Republican Party at heart, then you probably would have believed, as the Communist International wanted the naive to, that the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was fighting for establishing American-style democracy in Spain.