Thorner: Follow the money behind effort to revise the U.S. Constitution

March 14, 2017

Thorner: Follow the money behind effort to revise the U.S. Constitution

Conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch are heavily invested in criminal justice reform

Given the number of responses noting interest in my ConCon article published at Illinois Review on March 2, 2017, One state after another reject Convention of States’ efforts, another Con Con update seemed timely and appropriate. 
A national convention will only happen if 34 states, a two-thirds majority, sign onto the idea.  So far in 2017, 10 out of the 10 states targeted have rejected ConCon (Convention of States), the latest state being Idaho:  Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. 
In state after state, real conservatives have rejected the big money pushing the Convention of States, as real conservatives defend the Constitution instead.  Consider this:  The U.S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times since it was ratified in 1788.
The latest state, Idaho, on Wednesday, March 1, after nearly three hours of debate that stretched through the lunch hour where turns were taken taking either pushing the need to rein in the growing federal debt or warning that a convention could veer off into hot-button social issues, the Senate voted against SCR 108 by a resounding rejection of 11-24, effectively killing the bill that called for Idaho to petition for an Article V Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to add a balanced budget amendment.  
Although the sponsor of Idaho’s SCR 108, Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, argued, “We are either going to control our addiction or it will be controlled for us”, Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett countered with, “The founding fathers did phenomenal work in creating this lasting governing document and I don’t consider it a wise move to cut it up, especially considering the polarized political climate we are living in.”  
As to the status of ConCon in Texas, even though the Texas Senate on Tuesday, February 28 voted in favor of measures calling for a convention of states, which was adopted on a party-line vote, 20-11, the issue is not yet settled.  The vote, however, did officially advanced one of Texas Gov. one of the emergency items for Texas Governor Greg Abbott in this legislative session.  Abbott applauded the Senate’s passing of Senate Bill 21, saying that he looked forward to the House’s approval, which seeks amendments that place restraints on the federal budget and check power and enact term limits for U.S. officials.    In the recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, only 27 percent of those surveyed said a convention of states was needed to amend the U.S. Constitution, while 53 percent said the document has held up well.    
It is no secret that mega-donors, probably including the Koch brothers, are involved in pushing for a ConCon in Texas, which attests to its unconditional support by both Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick, even though Texas senators were informed before their vote on February 28 that a vote for SJR2 (Convention of States) would amount to a black mark on any conservative politician’s careers, and, most importantly, that a duty exists for each to defend the Constitution against all its enemies, foreign and domestic And that meant to reject SJR21.
Texas senators were enlightened further how the Republican national platform committee voted nearly unanimously against an Article V convention last July in Cleveland; Justice Scalia called an Article V convention a “horrible idea” in the last year of his life; Phyllis Schlafly said it is playing Russian roulette with the Constitution; the legendary Solicitor General under Reagan, Rex Lee, explained that constitutional conventions cannot be limited; and Chief Justice Warren Burger likewise expressed the same sentiment. 
A lengthy article in the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, connects this recent action by the Texas Senate in passing the Convention of States to massive donations by Tim Dunn, a wealthy oilman from Midland, Texas, and the Koch brothers.  Unlike most states, Texas has no limits on donations to the campaigns of state officials.  The Dallas newspaper explains:
Contributions to lawmakers from Tim Dunn and Empower Texans (which is primarily funded by Tim Dunn), 2010-2016:
Gov. Greg Abbott – $30,000 (Abbott put the Con Con/COS on the emergency calendar)
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – $649,546 (Patrick pushed the Con Con/COS through the Texas Senate)
Sen. Brian Birdwell – $25,234 (Birdwell was its primary sponsor)
Total Dunn contributions – $946,898 (other Texas Republican Senators fell in line on the Con Con/COS)
Total Empower Texans contributions- $3,965,725 (other Texas Republican Senators fell in line)
The Dallas Morning News explains further:
Lawmakers are also acutely aware of the agenda of the Koch brothers, billionaire conservatives who have spent heavily to support Republican candidates nationwide. Eric O’Keefe is a Citizens for Self-Governance board member who lives in Wisconsin and has a long history of political and financial ties to the wealthy brothers. The Koch brothers and related groups have given Texas lawmakers more than $900,000 since 2010. Abbott received $132,000 from the Koch brothers in 2013 and 2014. …
Donations to Dunn and O’Keefe’s Citizens for Self-Governance group indicate that its Constitution amending project is gathering steam, both politically and financially. According to tax records, contributions to CSG have grown from $1.8 million in 2011 to $5.7 million in 2015. …
CSG also operates at least two “dark money” groups, the Alliance for Self-Governance and Convention of the States Action. Those groups are not required to disclose the sources of their funding.
Charles Koch, of the notorious multi-billionaire Koch brothers — who heads Koch Industries and basically funds Republican candidates who are willing to advance globalist goals — has let it be known that he is eager to reform the criminal justice system.  
With deep money pocket behind passing ConCon in Texas, it won’t be easy to keep ConCon from passing the Texas House.  Fortunately, Texas has the U.S. Constitution and grassroots conservatives on its side, if they are not too intimidated to speak out and make their voices heard.
As a warning to legislators who are so disposed to vote for a Constitution Convention in their state, having been persuaded through the presentation of glowing ConCon rhetoric and/or the promise of contributions, they will be guilty of playing games with the Constitution.  It would open the door to repealing the Second Amendment, requiring taxpayer-funded abortion, repealing the Electoral College, and even changing our system of government into a European-style parliamentary system.  It means giving the media influence over changing the Constitution.

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