Despite Tulsi Gabbard’s pledge to no longer take money from lobbyists and political action committees (PACs), big money interests continue pouring cash into her campaign coffers. Her top donor for the 2017–2018 cycle thus far is health care giant Kaiser Permanente.
Remember how Democratic New Jersey Senator Corey Booker said he supported importing cheaper medicine from Canada but then voted against it anyway? Don’t be shocked or surprised if Gabbard introduces amendments to water down a single-payer bill or votes against a bill she ‘supports’ for spurious reasons like Booker. After all, she’s being promoted by Our Revolution as a leading progressive voice even though she has not signed onto 2 of the 5 bills promoted by Our Revolution as part of their Progress Summer initiative, which has earned her a progressive score of only 71% from Our Revolution. Embracing progressive rhetoric and imagery while remaining conservative or right-wing in practice is kind of her thing.
If Gabbard wants single-payer advocates to trust that she is on their side and not on the side of Kaiser Permanente, she can simply return the $10,000 the way Bernie Sanders rejected convicted scammer Martin Shkreli’s donation.
That’s what a principled progressive would do.
Small donors constitute a slight majority of where her funds come from in the 2017–2018 cycle so that’s a win for the political revolution right?
Looks can be deceiving. Check out these “small donations” from First Hawaiian Bank, all of them under $150 and occurring once a month every month since the beginning of 2017 for a total of $871.77 thus far.
If this pattern continues every month until the midterm elections in November 2018, Hawaii’s largest commercial bank will have contributed almost exactly the legal limit of $2,700 — all under the guise of being a “small donor”!
All of this raises an interesting question: why did Gabbard support Bernie Sanders in the first place since clearly she is not against big money in politics and does not consistently advance a progressive agenda? Maybe — just maybe — it had something to do with boosting her own national profile and fund-raising numbers. Just look at the lucrative Bernie bump she experienced compared to past cycles.
Is this speculation cynical? Yes. But given Gabbard’s documented history of deception, it cannot be ruled out.
If people want a progressive savior, find a candidate whose top donor isn’t Kaiser Permanente.