I imagine that David Trone hoped his first day on the campaign trail would focus more on his biography as a self-made businessman, generous philanthropist, and family man. His first day, however, was spent explaining the large donations he made to Republicans that I detailed here yesterday.
In his first press release, David Trone stated:
The way I campaign will show 8th District Democrats the kind of Representative I’ll be. First, I will not take any contributions from corporations, lobbyists, or political action committees and will limit individual contributions to $10. Voters will know I mean it when I say I won’t be beholden to anyone but them.
Like many wealthy politicians before him, Trone understands that he can use his wealth to avoid having to appeal to other wealthy men and promote an appearance of independence to the average voter. It helps that Americans generally don’t dislike the wealthy but admire and want to be them.
Except that he spent the first day undermining this message by explaining his donations to Republicans with statements in the Washington Post like:
I sign my checks to buy access.
I’ve passed more laws than most politicians.
Bill Turque reports that he corrected the second statement to explain that he had “lobbied to pass numerous laws.”
Trone says that his financial independence will prevent him from being beholden to others. But donating very large sums puts Trone on the other end of precisely the same transactions. Put another way, if his refusal to accept large donations leaves Trone unbought, should voters regard his own donations as buying politicians?
Trone’s statement on his view of the Republicans to whom he gave major donations will only serve to increase cynicism:
We disagree categorically with their political positions on everything social and economic.
That wouldn’t seem to leave much left. Does he like the foreign policy of the many state Republicans he has supported?
Indeed, Trone disagrees strongly with Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a recipient of over $8000 of his largess, on guns. Here is David Trone’s position:
I support comprehensive gun control reform that limits access to assault weapons and expands safety regulations. We need to bring back the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, expand background checks, tighten regulation of the gun dealers, and require safe firearm storage in homes. We need to close loopholes from private sales, including gun shows. Sensible gun laws work in countries that use them.
In contrast, Abbott signed laws to allow the concealed carrying of handguns on campus and open carrying of guns in the State. Trone may have donated for his own business purposes but he also helped promote gun laws that he opposes.
When Abbott was Attorney General, he described his job as “I go into the office in the morning. I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.” Abbott opposes the DREAM Act. Not exactly someone with whom a Democratic candidate normally wants ties.
Abbott’s relationships with donors have come under heavy scrutiny:
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) was supposed to provide funding for cancer research. But soon after its implementation, the multi-billion dollar entity was awarding grants to donors of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott without the proper review. Scientists resigned in protest, and an investigation into the activities of the fund has since resulted in a felony indictment.
Trone’s strong statement of disagreement with Abbott and other Republicans on major issues just reinforces his statement that he was buying access to lots of officials. And some may rightly or wrongly make the leap to something more, particularly in light of Trone’s braggadocio about having passed legislation.
David Trone is a real star in the wine business. He has revolutionized that industry and built a great company. His opening campaign statements do not demonstrate the same acumen.