Political Correction

The Modern Republican Party: Brought To You By Fraud & Tax Evasion

July 30, 2010 3:53 pm ET - by Alan Pyke

Texan billionaire brothers Charles Wyly Jr. and Samuel Wyly stand accused of "engag[ing] in a 13-year fraudulent scheme" using "an elaborate sham system of trusts and subsidiary companies" based offshore to rack up an "unlawful gain of over $31.7 million."

These charges from the SEC are hanging over the GOP because the Wylys have been huge Republican boosters:

Charles and Samuel Wyly, along with their wives, have donated $2.5 million to more than 200 Republican candidates and committees over the past 20 years, including over $1.3 million to the Republican National Committee, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The top recipients of their largesse have been Texas Republicans. George W. Bush received at least $100,000 raised by the Wyly clan during the 2000 presidential election. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson has received $30,400 from the family; Rep. Pete Sessions, $29,000.

And they are even bigger players in the soft-money world — again, supporting exclusively Republicans (because why would a tax cheat and fraudster support the party that actually regulates the high-finance world?). In 2000, the Wyly brothers spent $2.5 million on airtime for an attack ad aimed at Sen. John McCain "on the eve of the crucial Super Tuesday primaries," Huffington Post reported in 2008:

Eight years ago, Sen. John McCain's run for the presidency was derailed under the heavy weight of smear campaigns and attack politics. A key agent in that effort was Sam Wyly, a Texas investor and major George W. Bush supporter who, with his brother, launched a $2.5 million advertising campaign attacking McCain's environmental record.

Wyly's work, according to the Center for Public Integrity, represented the "very first ad" launched by a 527 -- the oft-maligned political groups that came about due to a loophole in campaign finance laws. Created in secrecy (under the name "Republicans for Clean Air") and on the eve of the crucial Super Tuesday primaries, it was seen as a contributor to McCain's ultimate defeat in 2000.

The Wylys are, of course, innocent until proven guilty. But when a six-year investigation culminates in a federal lawsuit alleging "a 13-year fraudulent scheme," you can bet that there's some kind of fire beneath that smoke.

Remember, this is only the money we know about. Groups such as Karl Rove's "shadow RNC" attack dog that is financed almost entirely by a handful of billionaires don't have to tell us where they dip their beaks. Still, the public information stitched together by the Center for Responsive Politics makes it very clear: the brothers Wyly are a central cog in the GOP money machine.

And they have been for a long, long time.

Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.