Evan McMullin Should Not Be Architect of New GOP

Independent presidential protest candidate Evan McMullin is a decent man and an American patriot, but under no circumstances should his view of conservatism form the basis of a rebuilt Republican Party post-2016, or form the bedrock of a new conservative moment.

There is no question that at time when both major political parties have nominated fundamentally distasteful and deeply flawed candidates, individuals whose basic human decency is open to question based on their previous records and remarks, Evan McMullin is a respectable human being. But while respectable and decent are now – remarkably – enough to fuel a nationwide protest campaign, they are not all that is required to rebuild a GOP that will emerge deeply divided on November 9th.

From social issues to foreign policy issues, and even touching an important fiscal issue, McMullin’s articulation – or lack of articulation – betrays good intentions that are not backed up by concrete principles or policy proposals.

Maggie Gallagher, a social conservative activist, expressed skepticism of McMullin back in August in a piece for National Review Online. Citing his general silence on domestic policy issues, she asserted that the former CIA officer turned Capitol Hill staffer is “not the savior conservatives are hoping for.”

On the life issue, Gallagher pointed out that McMullin’s website was then – and still is – pretty sparse on details even though the candidate declares that, “Our respect for life is the most important measure of our humanity.” Well put, and certainly very much in line with a conservatism that respects the equality of human beings and a belief that government should protect human life. But the only policy specific McMullin embraces is no taxpayer funding for abortion. “A culture that subsidizes abortion on demand runs counter to the fundamental American belief in the potential of every person – it undermines the dignity of mother and child alike,” his platform reads.

A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is already the law of the land. What is still allowed – and what McMullin is silent about – is the use of taxpayer money to fund the non-abortion operations of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. That’s a recent debate that McMullin, if interested in proving his pro-life credentials as a serious candidate, could have easily weighed in on. Instead, he has remained silent on his website and a search for news clips and public statements turned up nothing.

Gallagher suggests that McMullin may be seeking “to be a unifier through vagueness, as many consultants would no doubt advise.”

In contrast to his one paragraph statement about the importance of human life, McMullin spends 19 paragraphs outlining his immigration reform plan. The plan is chock full of policy principles that McMullin wants to see implemented after the border is secured. It is a realistic and thoughtful plan – proof that even as a last minute candidate, McMullin can put meat on broad position statements provided the issue is one he cares about.

On another social issue – the hot button topic of the definition of marriage, and who defines it – McMullin has adopted a passive tone. Professing that he personally believes marriage is a union between a man and a woman, McMullin told Bloomberg that he “respect[s] the decision of the [Supreme] Court and I think it is time to move on.” Pressed if perhaps the issue should be resolved at the state level, a position similar to those embraced by Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio or Sen. Ted Cruz, McMullin again emphasized the matter is settled law: “Ideally, yes, but it has been handled by the Supreme Court, and that’s where it is.”

When queried about whether or not he favors appointing Supreme Court justices who might take the view that Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that forced all states and the federal government to accept same-sex marriage, was decided incorrectly, the nascent candidate said he would not favor those types of judicial nominees.

Sen. Marco Rubio famously said of Obergefell that, “I don’t believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it.” Promising to nominate strict constructionist judges, the then-presidential candidate told NBC News, “I don’t think the current Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage. That belongs at the state and local level.”

Rubio wasn’t afraid to use some political capital to defend his position. According to another NBC News story, “Rubio seems unconcerned his positions on social issues might cost him younger voters.” He also pushed back against the argument that supporting the traditional definition of marriage makes someone a bigot.

For his part, Sen. Ted Cruz promoted the idea of an amendment to the Constitution that clarifies that the definition of marriage is settled at the state – not federal – level.

Beyond just social issues, however, McMullin has been oddly unwilling to say whether or not he agrees with a widely embraced conservative reform proposal for Social Security. Facing financial unsustainability, the entitlement program is certainly not poised to live up to its promise to future generations of retirees. One plan to make it more sustainable is to allow younger workers to take a small portion of their current Social Security and Medicare payroll deduction and put it in a personal savings account that could be invested in traditional retirement securities. It’s a plan championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and it’s modeled on federal employee retirement plans.

“I support most conservative solutions to entitlement reforms,” McMullin said when specifically asked about the idea of allowing younger workers to take Social Security contributions – taxes – and invest some of them into personal accounts. Pressed for a more clear-cut answer, he refused to say whether he agreed with the Ryan plan.

In the area of foreign policy, McMullin has sounded extraordinarily hawkish notes. Having spent a decade of his life helping chase down terrorists and bad guys who threaten America’s security, there’s no question that McMullin has personal credibility on the topic. But experience doesn’t always begat wisdom even as it reveals impeccable intentions.

Speaking at TEDx event earlier this year, and before he entered the presidential race, McMullin argued that genocide is a good enough justification for American and Western economic and military intervention in foreign affairs. Complaining about Western “governments’ lack of political will” to stop genocide, he proposed a fairly sweeping interventionist outlook where the public pressures democratic governments to do more to halt internal violence in troubled nations.

“Western countries and governments are some of the most empowered to stop atrocities given their economic and military strength. But they also happen to be democracies. And in these systems political will begins and ends with the people on all issues,” he explained.

But in making the case against genocide (an easy case), McMullin didn’t explain why it was moral or appropriate for democracies to always intervene in cases of genocide even if none of their strategic or security interests were at stake. If evil is justification for military action, endless conflict may be had at any point. Expending American blood and treasure to right the world’s wrongs without any other justification will not only be a tough sell to the American people, it will be a questionable use of national resources.

In an editorial for Foreign Policy magazine, McMullin did appear to want some unspecified limits placed on the employment of military force. Saying he disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, he went on to outline why the U.S. should do more in Syria, even though the Obama Administration’s policy there has been one of eventual increase of military commitment.

Then he claimed this: “As president, instead of being constrained by rigid doctrines that call for either constant action or total passivity, I would carefully evaluate the situation at hand and determine how best to respond.”

In calling for both more strident military, economic and diplomatic action, while also promising to eschew “rigid doctrines” in foreign affairs, McMullin sounds remarkably like candidate Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisors in 2008.

If the new conservative movement is to be erected on a foundation that avoids social issues – particularly the pro-life issue – refuses to offer concrete fiscal solutions to looming entitlement problems, and promotes a moralistic but confused foreign policy, it is not a movement destined to seriously shape American politics. It will cede much to those who do not constrain their view of government to the parameters of the Constitution.

Feingold’s Daughter Connected To Wisconsin Campaign Dark Money

An organization that is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D) campaign to recapture his old Senate seat in Wisconsin used its sister entity to employ Feingold’s daughter as recently as this past May. The Humane Society Legislative Fund, not to be confused with local humane societies, is airing a television ad urging voters to cast their ballot for Feingold when they vote in one of the most contentious and closely watched Senate races in the country. As it turns out, Feingold’s daughter spent years working for the Humane Society of the United States, the parent organization of HSLF.

According to filings posted to the Federal Election Commission’s website, the Humane Society Legislative Fund is spending a stunning $399,329.18 on a television ad buy supporting Feingold. The ad began running in Wisconsin on Tuesday according to the filings. The HSLF is located in Washington, D.C.

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Feingold’s daughter, Jessica Feingold Lieberson, currently lives in the D.C. metro area and from December 2011 until May of this year, she worked as the Humane Society of the United States’ federal legislative specialist. In that job she was responsible for, “Build[ing] and maintain[ing] coalitions with other nonprofit organizations, industry groups, local and federal law enforcement officials, and religious leaders.”

From 2009 to 2011, Feingold Lieberson was the director of grassroots campaigns for HSUS. According to her LinkedIn profile she, “Organized an array of lobby days, briefings, and press conferences to support organization’s legislative goals.” From 2007 through 2009, she worked as a grassroots coordinator at HSUS.

The Humane Society of the United States does not itself engage in political activity, but the Humane Society Legislative Fund is its political arm. A press release announcing the Wisconsin ad buy explained, “The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States.”

According to a review of independent expenditure filings, Feingold is the only U.S. Senate candidate directly benefiting from HSLF’s independent – so-called “dark money” – campaign efforts right now.

In August, Feingold Lieberson wrote a fundraising solicitation for her dad’s campaign. “[O]ne of the best things about my dad is that he cares so passionately about equality for all women,” she wrote. “I’m so proud of my dad. I can’t wait until he’s back in the Senate standing up for all of us.” The note concluded with a link to an ActBlue fundraising page for Feingold’s Senate campaign.

Lieberson’s time working on federal relations for the Humane Society did overlap with her father’s time in the Senate.

When the HSLF ad starting airing, the Wisconsin Humane Society received numerous calls from viewers unhappy the organization was picking sides in the Senate race. The WHS clarified that it has nothing to do with the advertisement.

Clinton Advisors, Supporters Compared Planned Parenthood Hearings to Benghazi Hearings

The day Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before Congress in the aftermath of videos showing Planned Parenthood affiliated physicians and managers bargaining over the price of fetal body parts harvested from unborn babies, a top Clinton supporter compared the hearing to Hillary Clinton’s performance in hearings about the Benghazi debacle. Gina Glantz, formerly of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and now of Gender Avenger, emailed several top Clinton aides to ask that Clinton call Richards in the hours after the hearing and drew the comparison between the Benghazi hearings and the Planned Parenthood hearing.

“Writing to you all hoping someone will suggest that Hillary call Cecile Richards tonight,” Glantz put in the subject line of an e-mail sent to Clinton advisors Katie Dowd, Joel Benenson, Tamera Luzzatto, Minyon Moore and Mandy Grunwald on September 29, 2015 just hours after Richards finished her testimony on Capitol Hill. Praising Richards for standing “up so well” under the “grilling,” Glantz said a phone call from Clinton to Richards would be good politics.

“Good for HRC politics and Cecile. Now Cecile knows what it feels like to be Hillary in front of the Benghazi committee. Anyway would be a great tweet from HRC that she spoke to Cecile.”

The e-mail came to light as part of the massive WikiLeaks document dump.

Mandy Grunwald, senior advisor to Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, replied to Glantz, “Thanks Gina. We always want your advice. I will pass on to those who might make this happen.”

Not one person on the chain pushed back on Glantz’s assertion that the Planned Parenthood hearing was the equivalent of the Benghazi hearing. The only thing similar between the hearings, besides a high profile female subject appearing before Congress, is the fact that both events involved Americans dying while the government refuses to prevent their death.

On September 11, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. In the ferocious fighting that followed, four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens, died. In the aftermath of the affair then-Secretary of State Clinton downplayed her role in her agency’s failure to provide greater security to the Benghazi mission even though such security was requested multiple times in advance of the attack.

At a Senate hearing about the Benghazi attack, Clinton pushed back on a question from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), asking “What difference – at this point – does it make?” Johnson had asked about the source of the attack, which some Obama Administration officials had pinned on a mostly unknown YouTube video.

Three years later, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood visited Capitol Hill to testify at a hearing about federal funds that go to her organization, which is the largest abortion provider in the country. Federal funds may not be spent on abortions, but video footage released in the summer of 2015 found Planned Parenthood officials and physicians negotiating the sale of aborted fetal body parts collected from abortions, something that violates federal law.

That high profile advisors so close to Clinton were comfortable with – or at least silent toward – a former Planned Parenthood Action Fund (the political arm of the abortion provider) leader comparing Benghazi to abortions that result in the sale of fetal tissue is astonishing.

Myth: Prevailing Wage is a Veterans Issue

In a clever ploy, anti-free market and pro-labor union organizations are fighting back against efforts to repeal so-called prevailing wage laws by claiming that such a repeal would be a direct attack on veterans. At a time when veterans enjoy wide public respect in the aftermath of intense conflict in two wars, the argument packs a hefty political punch. But while the rhetoric is powerful, the evidence behind it is pretty thin, and the claim is easily debunked when the prevailing wage discussion is put in perspective.

The prevailing wage is a mandated compensation rate that contractors on certain public works projects must pay workers on those jobs. Not all states have prevailing wage laws, but many do, and the Davis-Bacon law requires governments at all levels to pay the federally calculated prevailing wage on projects over a certain size that utilize federal dollars.

Numerous states with conservative governors have considered partially or completely eliminating their state prevailing wage law requirements as a means of reducing regulation on the private sector, eliminating bureaucracy and saving taxpayers money on public construction projects. Wisconsin, for example, will have a partial repeal of its prevailing wage go into effect in January 2017.

But as the debate over the necessity or effectiveness of prevailing wage has grown, advocates of the status quo have sought to advance a series of questionable assertions about its usefulness. A secretive lobbying group ran television ads in Wisconsin in 2015 claiming a repeal of prevailing wage would flood jobsites with illegal immigrants. Calling a repeal an “illegal worker loophole,” the organization, which failed to disclose its IRS non-profit filings, was ultimately unsuccessful in its efforts.

In a May 2015 editorial for the Huffington Post, Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org astonishingly asserted that, “A repeal of state prevailing wage laws would be an economic disaster for veterans. Soltz also claimed that:

“Missing entirely from the debate over these laws is who they would impact the most. Military veterans, for example, pursue employment in the construction trades at substantially higher rates than non-veterans.”

But that’s a mischaracterization of the findings of an economic study commissioned by VoteVets.org to examine the relationship between veterans who work in construction and prevailing wage laws. A press release announcing the study declares that repealing or reforming, “prevailing wage at the state level will disproportionally hurt the hundreds of thousands post-9/11 veterans who are returning to the workforce.” In that same release VoteVets.org describes itself as “the largest progressive group of veterans in America.”

The study was conducted by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, whose name bears a close resemblance to the labor union-funded Economic Policy Institute which conducts pro-union economic research, although IEPI does not appear to receiving funding from EPI according to available IRS documents. The gist of the report is that because veterans work in the construction industry, and because construction workers are the workforce impacted by prevailing wage laws, any changes to such laws are a veterans issue.

Even while acknowledging that only a small minority of construction workers are veterans (a reasonable fact given that at any given time the U.S. military makes up about 1% of the total population today), the study goes to great lengths to argue that veterans as a population group are more likely to be in construction trades than non-veterans.

The justification for this claim is that in 39 states veterans make up a larger share of the construction workforce than they do of the total workforce. For example, in Wisconsin veterans make up 5.48% of the total workforce, but they make up 8.3% of the construction trades. In Illinois, veterans are 4.51% of the total labor force but they are 7.39% of the construction workforce.

But this calculation is hardly an accurate way to depict veteran participation in a particular industry because it makes it appear as if more veterans work in construction than in other industries. In addition to being a small minority of construction workers, veterans are a small percentage of the total workforce.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, younger veterans (post-1991) are less likely to work in construction than other industries. Referred to as “Gulf War” veterans (the first Gulf War was in 1991, the War on Terror is classified as the “Second Gulf War” in this Census data) they are more likely to be found working in management or protective service sectors than on a job site. A Census Bureau report on veteran employment describes it this way:

“Gulf War-era men were less likely to work in construction occupations and sales and related occupations, compared with nonveteran men.”

That statement, based on census data, blows a gigantic hole in the IEPI study which builds its entire premise that prevailing wage is a veterans issue off of the claim that veterans are more likely to be working construction than nonveterans.

Another glaring flaw of the study is that it fails to put into context the number of construction jobs that fall under prevailing wage requirements. Reading the study it would appear that the majority of construction jobs are bound by prevailing wage requirements, which in turn (according to the authors) substantially impact the incomes of veterans employed in the trades. But the reality is only a minority of total construction jobs fall under prevailing wage provisions.

In Wisconsin, for example, before the partial repeal of prevailing wage was enacted only about 20% of all construction jobs contained prevailing wage restrictions according to a pro-prevailing wage estimate. That means while 91.7% of construction workers in Wisconsin have never served in the military, 80% of all Wisconsin construction jobs never qualified for prevailing wage regulations.

Nevertheless, the IEPI study summary claims, “Prevailing wage improves economic outcomes for veteran workers. Prevailing wage standards make construction employment more attractive for veterans.” But the actual study explicitly states: “Prevailing wage laws affect all workers the same regardless of race, gender, veteran status, or any other factor.”

So either prevailing wage is a veterans issue, as the first statement asserts, or it is not a veterans issue because it applies to all workers equally regardless of veteran status, a noteworthy point given that the vast majority of construction workers are not veterans. The conflicting statements reveal the lengths to which pro-labor union groups will go to advocate for higher taxpayer costs on construction projects.

In addition to failing to point out how few total construction projects are bound by the prevailing wage requirement, the IEPI study authors also overlook any mention of compliance costs with prevailing wage. For small business owners and entrepreneurs of the sort often found in the construction trades, the complexities of complying with prevailing wage mandates can serve as a disincentive to bid on government jobs.

Finally, the study authors make the eyebrow-raising claim that military service is closely related to prevailing wage-regulated construction projects. “[B]oth military and civilian construction careers include elements of public service, from defending the country to developing the public infrastructure on which Americans rely,” they write. Certainly there is a degree of job satisfaction in both career fields, but prevailing wage or no prevailing wage, most job sites in the United States don’t involve getting shot at, nor do superiors have the freedom to push employees to work far more than 8 hours a day.

Not all veterans organizations agree with VoteVets.org, on this issue. Darin Selnick, a senior advisor to Concerned Veterans for America, is skeptical of prevailing wage laws and their impact on anyone – including veterans. “The transition from military to civilian life is often difficult for veterans, and finding gainful employment is an important first step,” Selnick said. “Prevailing wage laws disproportionately hurt entry-level job growth – the exact kind of jobs veterans need in that critical timeframe when they’ve just finished serving. Veterans fought for economic freedom and American prosperity abroad and they deserve it when they get home.”

Labor unions and aligned think-tanks and political groups are likely to continue to use the guise of veterans issues as a cudgel to beat free market policymakers over the head for daring to suggest reforms that save taxpayer money. But that doesn’t mean they are right; veterans are a significant part of the workforce, but that doesn’t mean increased government spending on labor costs for public works are somehow a veterans issue in the same way that, say, the healthcare shortcomings of the Veterans Administration are a veterans issue.

Originally posted to MediaTrackers.org.

Final Presidential Debate Needs To Discuss Afghanistan, Military Readiness

On Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, respectively, will debate each other for the final time before the November election. With so much of this political cycle focusing on he-said, she-said accusations, outrageous comments, previous failings, personality quirks and a clash of deeply unpopular candidates loathed by important elements in their own parties, it would be refreshing and helpful if Clinton and Trump, assisted by a thoughtful moderator, focused on issues.

Two issues that desperately need more attention this election cycle are the future of the United State’s role in Afghanistan and the future of American military readiness. Donald Trump’s proclamation that he will “build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us,” and Clinton’s assertion that we “cannot lose our military edge, and that means giving the Pentagon the stable, predictable funding it needs to make smart investments” both fall short of specifics.

While both candidates appear to agree, at least on a big picture level, that the nation needs to increase military spending, what they are not talking about is readiness, which involves funding, but doesn’t necessarily relate to the acquisition of new weapons systems or the addition of new military personnel. Readiness is a lot about maintaining the current force and its capabilities and, where necessary, growing it to make sure force size is aligned with national security priorities.

Such a conversation goes well beyond throwing money at the military so it can be “so strong” and it involves a conversation about what exactly “smart investments” are.

Additionally, a topic that has general escape scrutiny this election cycle is the future of Afghanistan. The threat of ISIS, immediate and dangerous, has grabbed its share of headlines for good reason, but the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan threatens to undo much of the hard work of U.S. forces who have been fighting there for the last 15 years.

According to a Washington Post story over the weekend, one U.S. advisor in Afghanistan described the U.S. presence there, with its restrictive rules of engagement and extremely limited personnel, saying, “We’re like a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.” A national security expert told the paper that the U.S. strategy is “just enough to lose slowly,” hardly a winning plan.

One person who is talking about readiness and Afghanistan is Jim Banks, an Indiana state senator and Congressional candidate who appears poised to win in Indiana’s 3rd District. Banks, a Navy Reserve officer with a recent deployment to Afghanistan, wrote in a recent editorial that Congress needs to work on providing regular funding for the military so readiness can become less dependent on short term political fights and more focused on long-term needs.

“The current model of Congress passing short-term spending bills at the eleventh hour means the Department of Defense often is unable to effectively compete in pricing for contracts or suppliers, which wastes tax dollars,” Banks wrote.

He also pointed out that military readiness is something the next Congress will need to take seriously:

“In the midst of the most complex threat environment our country has faced in over a generation, today the U.S. military is in a readiness crisis that threatens our ability to confront and deter adversaries and address the challenges we face. Our armed forces are smaller, less prepared and less equipped than at any point over the last several decades.”

If these topics merit attention from a Congressional candidate, let’s hope they receive attention at the final presidential debate.

MN Gov says ObamaCare “no longer affordable”

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) on Wednesday became the first Democratic governor in the country, according to the Associated Press, to admit that ObamaCare isn’t working. “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people,” Dayton said at an event where he address concerns over Minnesota’s health insurance exchange. The exchange nearly collapsed earlier this year and consumers in Minnesota are facing massive premium increases this year.

Dayton was held up by some liberals, particularly in neighboring Wisconsin, as a model governor for his full embrace and implementation of ObamaCare, including the establishment of a state exchange, MNSure, and a Medicaid expansion funded by ObamaCare.

The Minnesota governor didn’t blame his state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act for recent woes, instead laying the blame at the feet of the Obama Administration and a Congress that rushed to enact the landmark regulatory expansion in 2009. “It’s got some serious blemishes right now and serious deficiencies,” he said.

Another prominent Democrat who recently criticized ObamaCare is former President Bill Clinton, who told a Michigan audience last week that President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform is “the craziest thing in the world.” Clinton cited rising premium costs as evidence of ObamaCare not working as planned.

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.”

Rising premiums and insurers fleeing the online marketplace at HealthCare.gov and state-funded exchanges have defined the health insurance landscape over the past couple of years. In Wisconsin, for example, state regulators have announced that health insurance premiums are going up an average of 15.88%. Some plans will see premiums rise 30.37% and several large insurance companies have stopped offering plans on via the ObamaCare exchange in Wisconsin.

Minnesota faced a dire crisis earlier this year when insurers that offered plans via MNSure threatened to pull out of the marketplace if they weren’t allowed to raise rates to cover the cost of the plans.

Under ObamaCare, insurance premiums in Wisconsin and Minnesota have increased far faster than the rate of inflation for medical service costs.

ObamaCare’s failure to control costs thrusts the matter back into the spotlight for the 2016 election, a time when Republicans who won Senate seats in 2010 based in no small part on public backlash over ObamaCare are trying to defend those gains.

Embattled Democrat Bayh Struggles in Ind. Senate Race

It was supposed to be a fairly easy comeback attempt. Evan Bayh, the darling of Indiana Democrats, decided he wanted to return to the U.S. Senate this year after refusing to run for re-election in 2010. Worried that his re-election chances were in doubt, Bayh backed out of facing Indiana voters six years ago. The move resulted in former Sen. Dan Coats capturing the seat for Republicans. But in an odd decision, Bayh skipped the Indiana senate primary this year, opting instead to muscle out former Congressman Barron Hill, who had spent months building a ground game in preparation for facing off against the eventual GOP nominee.

But while Democratic Party leaders in Indiana aided Bayh’s successful effort to push Hill out of the race, whether or not that was a good pragmatic decision remains to be seen. As polls show Congressman Todd Young, the Republican nominee, closing to within a single percentage point of Bayh, a series of negative stories have rocked the comeback effort.

On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Star pointed out that Bayh’s campaign was not honest about his use of taxpayer-funded travel to set up interviews that netted him a cushy job once he left the Senate. Amazingly, the paper laid out the direct contradictions between newly learned facts and Bayh’s previous explanation of them, but stopped short of explicitly stating the obvious: Bayh’s campaign lied and covered up the truth to protect the former senator.

According to the paper:

“Bayh landed a lucrative job with private equity giant Apollo Global Management shortly after leaving office in January 2011. He had in the months prior worked against a tax increase on carried interest and a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act that would have hurt the bottom lines of companies like Apollo.

“The timing of the new job prompted IndyStar to ask Bayh’s campaign about a half dozen taxpayer-funded trips Bayh took to New York City during the last half of 2010. The flurry of travel was unusual for Bayh — he hadn’t used taxpayer money to travel to New York City since 2002.

“In response to IndyStar’s inquiries, the campaign said in early September that Bayh didn’t meet with anyone from Apollo during those trips.

“Turns out, that wasn’t the case.”

Bayh sat on the Senate Banking Committee.

The conflict of interest between some of the votes he cast in the Senate during his final year in office and his subsequent private sector employment was first reported by the Associated Press late last week. Comparing a copy of Bayh’s schedule from his final year in office to various votes he cast and numerous boards and employment opportunities that came his way once he left office, the AP was able to find Bayh staying at the home of a wealthy future employer in the banking industry and meeting with board members of entities that would go on to add him to their board of directors once he left office.

Apollo Global Management has paid Bayh $2,038,152.05 since 2015 according to recently filed ethics disclosure reports reviewed by Politico. The publication also found that Bayh made around $1.76 million by serving on various boards, including the board of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, with whom he was in talks during his final year in office. Votes Bayh cast in that final year also benefited Marathon’s interests.

During the 2009 debate over ObamaCare, which Bayh ultimately voted in favor of, liberals were upset that Bayh was less than supportive of a so-called public option. They blamed the timidity on Bayh’s wife, who has sat on various boards in the health industry including the board of a prominent insurance company.

The NRSC has blasted Bayh for his various conflicts of interest, noting that he has frequently looked out for his own interests in prominent ways.

Conflicts of interest aren’t the only problems that have bedeviled Bayh this cycle. While serving as Indiana’s secretary of state, Bayh approved of the Klu Klux Klan’s incorporation as a non-profit group in the Hoosier state in 1987. “By incorporating and getting the paperwork to where Mr. Bayh has signed it, this designates that we are a legal organization,” a KKK spokesman told an Indiana newspaper the following year.

Shortly after announcing he was going to run for Senate again, it become public that Bayh’s Indiana voter registration had twice lapsed to an “inactive” status because Bayh hadn’t verified that he still lived at an Indianapolis address. A registration moving to “inactive” is the first step in it getting removed from the voter roles.

An achilles heel for Bayh is his long association with Hillary Clinton, who is behind in polls in Indiana and not terribly popular with voters there. Back in 2007 amid the brutal slugfest between Clinton and Obama, Bayh endorsed Clinton and then went on to campaign with her in Indiana during the hard-fought primary. It was even speculated that Bayh would be Clinton’s VP pick. But with Clinton’s poll numbers so low in the state, tying Bayh to Clinton in the final month of the election could prove to be a good strategy for GOP Senate candidate Todd Young.

Laura Ingraham Suggests Paul Ryan Should Lose in November

Declaring that Republicans who express concern over Donald Trump’s offensive remarks about grabbing women without their consent “are helping Hillary Clinton,” conservative radio talkshow host Laura Ingraham suggested Tuesday that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan might lose his re-election race this fall if he doesn’t stand should-to-shoulder with the embattled GOP nominee.

“There could be a backlash here against Paul Ryan. What’s stopping the Republican voters from just voting for Trump and not voting down ballot? What’s stopping them?” Ingraham asked during a series of segments on her Tuesday morning show.

Ingraham’s show does not air on Wisconsin radio stations in or around Ryan’s district, and the affable policy wonk and bowhunter who served as Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012 easily beat back a primary challenge from a decidedly un-conservative Trump-backing populist who ran against him in Wisconsin’s August primary.

After a video surfaced last week of Trump talking into a hot mic about how he inappropriately grabbed women without their consent and attempted to lure a high profile married woman to sleep with him, Ryan and other conservatives who had previously backed Trump began to step away from the real estate mogul. Ryan’s relationship with Trump has always been cautious, but with a series of self-inflicted wounds threatening the New York playboy’s political viability, not to mention further revealing his crass attitudes about women, Ryan first cancelled a joint appearance with Trump, then announced he wasn’t going to appear with the GOP nominee at all between now and election day.

The final straw for Ingraham and others who are tearing into Ryan was the speaker’s announcement to GOP members of Congress on Monday that they should focus on their own races and work to get re-elected in an increasingly difficult climate for Republicans.

“And meanwhile Paul Ryan thinks that he’s gonna be able to keep his majority in the House and Senate by saying ‘go your own way, vote your conscience.’ I think that the voters have had just about enough,” Ingraham complained on Tuesday. “Every time a Republican comes out and trashes Trump, three and a half weeks before the election, they are helping Hillary Clinton. They are doing the Clinton’s work for them right now.”

Ingraham went on to complain that Republicans should act more like Democrats when it comes to loyalty, and she cited the Democratic Party’s ongoing embrace of former President Bill Clinton who was impeached by the U.S. House and left office under a cloud of controversy. “[Democrats] stuck with Hillary through the private server, and through all of the other disasters, Benghazi…. never breaking ranks,” she praised.

But Ryan is part of “the Republican establishment who agree more with Hillary than they agree with you,” she told her audience.

Ingraham’s tone mirrored that of Trump, who on Monday and Tuesday blasted Ryan on Twitter like a jilted lover, calling him “Our very weak and ineffective leader” and claiming that “Disloyal R’s are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!”

Trump tried to then downplay the importance of Ryan’s skepticism by saying that the “shackles have been taken off me.”

But why Trump feels he is justified in demanding unquestioningly and unlimited loyalty from Ryan is not clear. During Ryan’s primary race earlier this year, Trump praised Ryan’s opponent for running “a very good campaign” and later said:

“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”

Ryan never asked Trump for his endorsement, although Trump ended up endorsing Ryan just days ahead of the primary. Trump’s refusal to endorse Ryan nearly cost him the RNC’s support according to some sources.

What Trump and his supporters, like Ingraham, have not apparently learned is that if a candidate is going to demand unflinching loyalty, he or she needs to demonstrate unflinching loyalty, and throughout this election cycle Trump’s only political loyalty has been to himself. That makes for a very short list of people to call when it comes time to get some help.