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'Pioneering' political fund-raising



George W. Bush, who wants to be your president, recently wowed the political pundits. Not with his grasp of issues (he says he's still studying them), not with his achievements as governor of Texas (he does little but run errands for his business cronies), but for the fact that he raised a haybarn-full of campaign cash for his presidential ambitions.

In only a month's worth of fund-raising, the Republican front-runner sacked up $7.6 million without even holding an event or personally making any telephone calls. Bush's spinmeisters hailed this huge haul as a phenomenal outpouring of love from "the people." Bush himself said he was "humbled" by this grass-roots show of support.

But what Humble George and his spinmeisters didn't mention is that these were not crumpled-up $10 bills he was getting. More than 70 percent of the money came in checks of $1,000 or more. Nor was this bonanza just spontaneously sent to him. Instead, the money was aggressively solicited by about 200 executives, lobbyists, developers and bankers who have signed up with Bush to raise at least $100,000 each. That's $20 million or more. Bush calls these corporate bagmen his "pioneers."

Bush is putting together a campaign-finance structure that's a pyramid of wealth. The 200 "pioneers" at the top have national financial networks of their own, including other corporate executives, their country-club pals, people who owe them favors, companies that do business with them, and so forth. These are people like Heinz Prechter, the Michigan honcho of American Sunroof Co. He previously raised $1 million-plus for Bush's dad, George the Elder, who subsequently rewarded Heinz by having him head a trade mission to Japan that -- just coincidentally -- landed him a lucrative business deal.

Bush's "pioneers" are nothing but shameless corporate opportunists who know that if they funnel big bucks to him now, he'll funnel even bigger bucks to them if he reaches the White House.

Jim Hightower is an author, radio commentator, public speaker and political sparkplug from Austin, Texas. For more populist commentary, visit his website.