This post has been updated with comments from Democratic candidate Paul Clements.
After the crowd-funded MaydayPAC announced they’d be spending $1.5 million to defeat Republican Fred Upton in MI-06, he turned to social media to decry what he called the “shadowy” group started by “Harvard millionaire” Lawrence Lessig (who is not a millionaire, by the way.)
But he didn’t stop there. The Huffington Post is reporting that Upton and a top aide and “former super lobbyist” Gary Andres got on the phones and began haranguing the PAC’s donors:
Silicon Valley executives who gave big money to a super PAC have received angry calls from a top aide to one of its targets, as well as calls from the targeted congressman himself, sources familiar with the situation told The Huffington Post. […]
Yet some of the major donors behind the PAC are themselves getting quite the scare. One of the congressmen Mayday has set its sites on is Michigan Republican Fred Upton, chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over the tech companies in Silicon Valley.
According to people familiar with the situation, committee staff director and former super lobbyist Gary Andres personally has been calling the CEOs of major Silicon Valley tech companies, hammering them for coming after Upton and spooking Mayday’s donors, who worry their companies will get rougher treatment when and if Upton survives.
Upton himself has reached out to the donors, he told a local editorial board during a livestreamed interview on Friday. “I do know some of the folks that funded the PAC and…I’ve talked to them…”
Nothing says “desperation” quite like threatening people with your political clout if they don’t toe the line and Fred Upton is clearly desperate.
In a strange bit of wharrgarbl, Upton claims he has to raise millions from out-of-state PACs to be ready for spending efforts against him like this one that is specifically targeting him BECAUSE he raises so much money from special interests.
In the article, Upton claims, despite not supporting any campaign finance reform bills currently in the legislature, that he’s a big proponent of campaign finance reform. When asked what he thinks should be done to get the corrosive, anti-democratic impact of money out of our government and political system, he said, and I’m not kidding here:
“We need maybe a code of ethics,” he said, in which organizations would pledge not to run negative ads.
Right. That’ll get the Koch brothers and all of the other Big Money corporatist spenders to stand down. Sure it will.
Derp. Derp. Derp.
UPDATE: Paul Clements, the Democrat facing off against Upton, released this statement regarding the HuffPo revelations:
Chairman Upton’s actions and those of his government employees are unacceptable. It’s not enough that Fred Upton raises millions of dollars from the very companies he regulates, he then has the staff director of the Energy and Commerce Committee threaten the leaders of those companies when they support efforts to fix our broken campaign finance system.
Members of Congress bullying the very companies they regulate to influence the political process is the definition of corruption. Fred Upton’s behavior is a prime example of how our system is broken and a case study in corruption.
It’s no surprise that Congressman Upton refuses to debate me in Southwest Michigan, when he is spending his time in Washington making phone calls to Silicon Valley CEOs in order to chide them for donating to a good government group that supports me. Every day on the campaign trail, I hear how Congressman Upton has changed. This is just another example of how he is more concerned for his own future than the future of his constituents. Fred Upton needs to stop shaking down corporate donors and answer to the people of Michigan.