Most people in Colorado don’t know who former Enron trader John Arnold is. But, we should as he’s increasingly donating to Colorado liberal causes. Over the past few years, Arnold and his wife have given $476,650 to liberal causes here, which includes $300,000 to the pro-Amendment 66 campaign and $150,000 given to the despicable Mainstream Colorado, which reached a new low by using the murder of Jessica Ridgeway to score political points. Now, he’s back for more, according to Politico, with an effort to reform Colorado’s public employee pension program. From the article:
“The Arnold Foundation is also participating in the Colorado Pension Project, chaired by former Colorado Govs. Bill Owens, a Republican, and Richard Lamm, a Democrat…. The Colorado Pension Project’s website says that recent legislative reforms to the state pension system — which reduced cost of living adjustments, raised the retirement age for new employees and increased employee salary contributions — did not go far enough. McGee said Arnold’s foundation was drawn to the state’s history of “fruitful left ideological discussions.”
Colorado is not the first state in which Arnold and his foundation have tried pension reform. His 2014 attempt in Phoenix failed by 13 points, which led to Forbes naming him one of its biggest billionaire political losers of 2014. He also tried in California, inspiring the ire of the Service Employees International Union, whose spokesperson said this about Arnold’s involvement, according to Reuters:
“It’s the height of narcissism for a Texas billionaire who doesn’t have to worry about his retirement to come into California and try to meddle with the secure retirement of working-class people,” said Lowell Goodman, communications director for the southern California chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
Surely, in Colorado, public pension reform is long overdue and something that conservatives should get behind. So, is the enemy of our enemy (unions) our friend in this case? Can conservatives get behind this effort? What makes us wary of Arnold and his efforts are his involvement with far left-wing organizations. Here are just a few examples from his family website:
- $200,000 to uber-liberal Wendy Davis‘ gubernatorial sacrifice (she lost by 20 points to the Republican candidate)
- $2 million to ProPublica, which is a left-leaning media organization
- Up to $5 million to each of the following organizations: ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
- $117,800 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (compared to about $1,100 to all Republican Party organizations in total)
- Arnold donated an amazing $1.5 million to support an effort to change the primary electoral system in Oregon to the top two vote getters in each election.
- Up to $100,000 each to NARAL, Obama Victory Fund, and Kick the Can Telluride (a local soda tax – so odd for a libertarian to support?)
- Up to $50,000 each to the Colorado Coordinated Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee
- Up to $50,000 each to an assortment of left wing political candidates, including Annise Parker (the Houston Mayor on a witch hunt against pastors who disagreed with her), Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s former Chief of Staff), and more.
It’s also noteworthy that he hired Eric Sondermann, who as of late likes to stay middle of the road, but has worked as a Democratic operative. As for Arnold, he claims to be a libertarian (although, his wife is a Democrat), and says he supports issues and politicians that represent the whole electorate. Here’s what he told the AP about his backing of the “top two” voting method:
“There’s no ulterior motive here. This is about: ‘Do the politicians represent the whole electorate or a narrow slice?'”
But, here’s the catch. If he’s supporting politicians like Wendy Davis, and organizations like Planned Parenthood and the DSCC – and if those causes are failing miserably at the ballot box – is he really supporting things that represent Middle America as he maintains? Can he really be middle of the road when 99% of his political donations go to Democratic causes? Can one be a libertarian and be ok with soda taxes and support politicians who target religious groups?
Is John Arnold just another example of the rise of the pseudo-independent that we’ve seen in Colorado? You know, the independent who only supports Democratic candidates. Think Steve Shogan, Kent Thiry, and John Hickenlooper (to an extent as he’s clearly a Democrat, but pretends to be pro-business while heaping regulation after regulation on top of Colorado businesses). Or is this just the latest example of another out-of-state rich guy using Colorado as a proving ground?
This brings us back to our original question. Can conservatives get behind the Colorado Pension Project? We’ll keep you posted, PeakNation™.