Russell Simmons Praises Edwards: Ponders Obama Fundraising

Paul Street of Black Agenda Report recently detailed an exchange between Russell Simmons, and Deborah Solomon of the NY Times:

Leave it to a leading cultural capitalist to call Barack Obama out on his reactionary disregard for the material circumstances that create inner-city misery and for hypocritical reliance on big capitalist political cash. Look at the following recent exchange between New York Times writer Deborah Solomon and Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and the so-called "CEO of Hip-Hop:

Solomon: "What do you make of Barack Obama, who recently said that rap musicians should reform their lyrics?"

Simmons: "What we need to reform is the conditions that create these lyrics. Obama needs to reform the conditions of poverty. I wish he really did raise his money on the Internet, like he said. I wish he really did raise his money independently."

Solomon: "What are you saying?"

Simmons: "I think about one-fourth of his campaign contributions came from small donations made over the Internet, even though he collected more than any other Democratic candidate from Wall Street people. So at the end of the day, he's controlled, too. That's my point. He's a mouse, too, like everybody else."

Solomon: "Are there any presidential candidates who inspire you?"

Simmons: "I talk to John Edwards more than I talk to anyone. He has said more things about the conditions we need to think about."

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.p hp?option=com_content&task=view& id=204&Itemid=34

Street then goes onto elaborate about how Simmons came to those conclusions:

The junior Senator from Illinois denounces the corrosive influence of private political cash on U.S. democracy while cozying up to Chicago's notoriously corrupt Big Money Mayor Richard M. Daley (with whom he shares the same high-priced campaign consultant (David Axlerod) and raking in campaign largesse from wealthy world-capitalist interests.  His top career sponsors include Goldman Sachs, Exelon (the world's leading nuclear plant operator), the Soros Fund Management, J.P Morgan Chase & Co., leading corporate law and lobbying firms (Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden, Arps,  Sidley Austin LLP and others), top Chicago investment interests (including Henry Crown & Co and Aerial Capital Management) and the like.

Obama's reliance on such deep-pockets supporters helps explain why he voted for a business-driven "tort reform" bill that rolled back working peoples' ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations. It is certainly part of why he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. It is undoubtedly related to his vote against a bill that would have killed an amendment to the 2005 energy bill that Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste called "one of the worst provisions in this massive piece of legislation." Under the amendment, which passed with Obama's help, U.S. taxpayers are providing millions of dollars in loan guarantees to power plant operators.  They "risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default," as Ken Silverstein wrote in the November, 2006 issue of Harper's Magazine ("Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine").

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.p hp?option=com_content&task=view& id=204&Itemid=34

He goes on to detail some of Obama's contributors:

Obama, it is worth noting, received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

One day after Obama denounced Big Money control of U.S. politics in Iowa City, Iowa, the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama "raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation's capital." Obama has also received a combined $170,000 so far this year from financial giants Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, who together spent $4.6 million on federal lobbying in 2006.

The Los Angeles Times also reported that Obama received more than two-thirds (68 percent) of his first quarter 2007 fundraising total "from donations of $1000 or more." Obama has "played up populist themes of [campaign finance] reform," trumpeting his "large number of small donations" and claiming (in the Senator's words) to be "launch[ing]a fundraising drive that isn't about dollars.". But his astonishing first-quarter campaign finance haul of $25.7 million included $17.5 million from "big donors" ($1000 and up) - a sum higher than the much more genuinely populist and remarkably pro-labor John Edwards' total take ($14 million) from all donors.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.p hp?option=com_content&task=view& id=204&Itemid=34

In the end he sums up Simmon's support of Edwards:

It is interesting that the race-conscious Simmons would be willing to say that John Edwards, a southern white politician, is better on the real conditions that give rise to black urban misery than the technically black former urban community organizer Obama.  Simmons is right. Recently endorsed by the well known Left black actor and activist Danny Glover, Edwards announced his candidacy in New Orleans.  He cited the federal government's betrayal of that city's largely black poor before and after Hurricane Katrina as an example of the extreme social disparity and perverted elitist policy priorities he claims to oppose. He has made deepening wealth and social inequality the rallying cry of his campaign and speaks at length in populist terms about the difficult circumstances faced by millions at the bottom of the American System.  He draws more sincerely and substantively than Obama on the anti-poverty legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Along with his repeated favorable references to the accomplishments and history of the labor movement and his description of himself as "real Democrat, not a `new' [centrist and pro-business] Democrat," this makes big U.S. and global capitalist money considerably less comfortable with Edwards than with Obama. Edwards' universal health insurance proposal is more specific and progressive than Obama's and unlike Obama he does not flinch at the mention of single-payer coverage.

There are reasons many people have reservations about Obama and his talk of Progressive reform. I hope some people who think that Obama is our real hope for Progressive change will listen to the voices of Danny Glover, and Russell Simmons. Obama may be selling that he is raising all his money from small donors, but this just isn't true. In the end, he is beholden. A "mouse" as Russell Simmons calls it.

There is only one candidate in this campaign who is not taking donations from Goldman-Sachs and Citigroup and is not beholden to them and it is John Edwards. He is our best chance for real Progressive change. I hope more Americans realize it just like Russell Simmons, Danny Glover, and myself have.

Tags: Barack Obama, Fundraising, John Edwards, Russell Simons (all tags)

Comments

26 Comments

Re: Russell Simmons apology to Obama

http://rap.about.com/b/a/258158.htm

The following was copied from the above link.

Russell Simmons Issues Apology to Obama, Clarifies Kucinich 'Endorsement'

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has publicly apologized to Sen. Barack Obama whom he referred to as a 'mouse' in a recent New York Times interview. Simmons says his comment was taken out of context and was not meant to downplay Obama's viability as a presidential candidate.
"I'd like to publicly apologize to Senator Obama for any hurt it has caused," Simmons said in a statement. "There has, I believe, been more made of my statement that "all of the Democratic candidates are controlled" than I would have expected. The full statement, I believe, was clear in its intention. The statement in its proper context was meant to make a point about all of the candidates and American politics, in general. In the future, I will be more careful in how I express my views. For the record, I believe Senator Obama is a strong, solid candidate and I wish him the best in his run for the Presidency."

Rush also clarified his recent statement expressing support for Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Contrary to earlier reports, Simmons stresses that he's yet to pick a candidate and will make an official announcement when he does.
"I stated that I would like to hear more from Dennis Kucinich in the debate because I believe he has very relevant, important and useful ideas to add to a discussion," said Simmons. "When I appeared on "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" on April 25, I was asked about the Democratic Primaries and I said that I had not yet picked a candidate. Donny then asked if a change had to be made right now, what would it be. At that point I said I would put Dennis Kucinich in office. I believe that all of the democratic candidates have good qualities and any one of them has the ability to start a process of changing our relationship with the world and improving the lives of the poor in this country."

by Jalenth 2007-06-24 10:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons apology to Obama

How does that change a single one of those fundraising numbers? Goldman-Sachs? Citigroup?

Bankrupcy Bill?
Tort Reform?

Hello!!!

by RDemocrat 2007-06-24 10:58PM | 0 recs
by BlueDiamond 2007-06-25 01:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Pathetic OR , Rickie

I work and have a family to support, hence I cannot post 500 posts on 100 sites worshipping my candidate. If this angers you so much, where was the anger when Edwards was smeared? Now who is the hypocrite?

by RDemocrat 2007-06-25 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons apology to Obama

Hello, the Class Action Fairness Act was a good bill for everyone but the plaintiffs' lawyers themselves.

by Adam B 2007-06-25 05:50AM | 0 recs
what about the Bankruptcy Bill?

Obama voted against the Bankruptcy Bill in 2006, and voted against cloture. Meanwhile, Edwards voted FOR the the 2001 Bankruptcy Bill.

by jj32 2007-06-25 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons apology to Obama

What about the Bankruptcy Bill?  Was it Citibank or Goldman Sachs that bribed Obama into voting to filibuster and then voting against the Bankruptcy Bill?

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/ro ll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?con gress=109&session=1&vote=00029
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/ro ll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?con gress=109&session=1&vote=00044

by Ramo 2007-06-25 08:54AM | 0 recs
Thank you

So much for him endorsing Edwards.  I trust Obama a lot more than I trust Edwards.  We'll just see how much Edwards cares about poverty once he loses the nomination.  Watch- it'll be "zilch."

by reasonwarrior 2007-06-25 02:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you

We'll see how much Obama cares about taking the money out of politics once he loses the nomination, my prediction, same as yours, zilch!!

by RDemocrat 2007-06-25 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons Praises Edwards:

hat about Edwards and his Edge fund problem??

Russel Simmons is the guy that endorsed the republican guy during the maryland senatorial race last year...I wouldn't pay to much attention to him.

by JaeHood 2007-06-25 12:04AM | 0 recs
There are only two people in the

Democratic party with the fundraising skills and buzz that is needed to win the general election. Period.

by Populism2008 2007-06-25 12:45AM | 0 recs
Re: There are only two people in the

Damn, I guess ideas are completely unnecessary accoutrements in modern day elections.

Thanks for clarifying what is necessary to win the general election. I'll quit reading blogs now and just rely on the mainstream media to think for me.

by Rooktoven 2007-06-25 07:18AM | 0 recs
Edwards not taking money from Citigroup?

First, saying that Citigroup and Goldman-Sachs donated $170,000 is a little misleading --- it is their employees that are making individual contributions.
Second, is Edwards raising money from the same groups?  Of course he is.  Obama is just doing it more successfully.
Try searching the New York Times' database.  Edwards  raised $16,100 from Citigroup from 13 donors, half of whom (seven) donated the maximum $2,300.  
Obama raised, on the other hand, $40,300 from 21 donors at Citigroup, 11 of whom donated the maximum $2,300 and two of whom donated the $4,600 including the limit for the general election campaign (also roughly half).
$16,100 to $40,300?  That's only a magnitude of two.  That's a difference in size, not in kind.
It's slander to claim that Obama's connections as a result are somehow closer than Edwards because of $20,000.  Especially since the contributions to Edwards probably make up a large percentage of his take and are thus more important to him.
As for Goldman Sachs, Edwards received 31 contributions and Obama 62 --- many of them on both sides hit the maximum $2,300.  
Do you believe for a second that if Edwards was higher in the polls, he wouldn't be doing better amongst the Goldman Sachs and Citigroup crowds?  To claim he isn't taking their money just because they aren't donating to him in the same numbers is ridiculous.
To get these numbers, go to the New York Times online search feature for first quarter contributions here:  http://www.nytimes.com/ref/us/politics/2 008_EG_FINANCES.html
Go to the advanced search and you can search by employer.  Type in "Goldman Sachs" or "Citigroup."

Third, you quote Obama's percentage of donors over a thousand, but you make no mention of Edwards', because if you did, you would notice that it's even HIGHER.  
The New York Times divides it's upper donation ranges 200-499, 500-1,499, 1,500-2,999, 2,300.  Since I can't break it down at 1,000, I'll use 1,500.  The percentage of contributions for Edwards over $1,500...  is about 65% or $9,200,654 of his total 14 million dollar take.  Just about two-thirds, of a contribution level HIGHER than the one you cite for Obama.
In fact, donations at the maximum $2,300 made up 46% of Edwards' overall total. ($6,530,000)
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/us/politics/2 008_EG_FINANCES.html

I performed these calculations angrily scribbling on a napkin without a calculator, so I apologize if the totals might be off by a thousand or two.  

by psericks 2007-06-25 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards not taking money from Citigroup?

And only one of the two favors tort deform.  Guess which one.

by DrFrankLives 2007-06-25 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards not taking money from Citigroup?

Top Industries for Edwards:
Lawyers/Law Firms  $5,029,360
Democratic/Liberal $1,323,538 (What is this?)
Securities/Investment $497,150

Top Industries for Obama:
Lawyers/Law Firms: $2,915,234
Securities/Investment:$1,394,791
Retired: $1,393,791

According to OpenSecrets.org:
http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/indus. asp?id=N00002283&cycle=2008

by psericks 2007-06-25 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards not taking money from Citigroup?

The one whose campaign isn't based on contributions from plaintiffs' lawyers, who were the only people impaired by the bill.

by Adam B 2007-06-25 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards not taking money from Citigroup?
I don't really believe that much in donation averages, they're pretty misleading.  But for the record: Obama's is lower at $246, compared to $350 for Edwards, according to the Washington Post.
http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008- presidential-candidates/?nid=roll_08camp aign
by psericks 2007-06-25 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Edwards not taking money from Citigroup?

Clinton's is $370

by psericks 2007-06-25 05:27AM | 0 recs
Better Numbers from OpenSecrets.org

Citigroup Employees
Edwards: $34,250
Obama: 56,000

Goldman Employees
Edwards:  $62,300
Obama: $146,100

Edwards:
http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contri b.asp?id=N00002283&cycle=2008
Obama: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contri b.asp?id=N00009638&cycle=2008

Percentage of Donors under $200:
Obama 22%
Edwards 14%
Clinton 9%

Percentage of Donors giving $2,300:
Edwards 47%
Obama   49%
Hillary 74%  (yikes)

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/donord ems.asp?cycle=2008

Sorry if these finance comments have gone helter-skelter.  But I feel like they do pretty clearly challenge the idea that Obama receives a higher percentage from big donors or that he is beholden to employees of financial services companies any more than Edwards is.

by psericks 2007-06-25 05:49AM | 0 recs
Richard?

What? No response to those who just rebutted your claims against Obama?

by BlueDiamond 2007-06-25 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard?

My response in down there. I have to sleep and work. I do have a life after all.

by RDemocrat 2007-06-25 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons

As noted above:

Obama voted against the Bankruptcy bill. This has been covered numerous times and to assert otherwise suggests that you'd rather slime Obama than look at the facts.

Second, John Edwards actually voted for the bankruptcy bill in 2001, which was similar to the terrible bill in 2005.

http://ontheissues.org/John_Edwards.htm

"Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy. (Jul 2001)"

In short, check your facts.

by dpg220 2007-06-25 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons Praises Edwards: Ponders Obama

I don't understand why this site doesn't institute some policy to monitor and remove outright lies, at least in the text of a diary.

by Doug Dilg 2007-06-25 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons Praises Edwards: Ponders Obama

Especially when you are on here lying about and smearing Edwards!!!

by RDemocrat 2007-06-25 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons Praises Edwards:

The junior Senator from Illinois denounces the corrosive influence of private political cash on U.S. democracy while cozying up to Chicago's notoriously corrupt Big Money Mayor Richard M. Daley (with whom he shares the same high-priced campaign consultant (David Axlerod) and raking in campaign largesse from wealthy world-capitalist interests.  His top career sponsors include Goldman Sachs, Exelon (the world's leading nuclear plant operator), the Soros Fund Management, J.P Morgan Chase & Co., leading corporate law and lobbying firms (Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden, Arps,  Sidley Austin LLP and others), top Chicago investment interests (including Henry Crown & Co and Aerial Capital Management) and the like.

Obama's reliance on such deep-pockets supporters helps explain why he voted for a business-driven "tort reform" bill that rolled back working peoples' ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations. It is certainly part of why he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. It is undoubtedly related to his vote against a bill that would have killed an amendment to the 2005 energy bill that Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste called "one of the worst provisions in this massive piece of legislation."  Under the amendment, which passed with Obama's help, U.S. taxpayers are providing millions of dollars in loan guarantees to power plant operators.  They "risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default," as Ken Silverstein wrote in the November, 2006 issue of Harper's Magazine ("Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine").  

Special interest influence is certainly behind Obama's constant plugging of federally subsidized ethanol ("E-85") as an environmentally friendly "alternative fuel." Reliance on corporate cash and power is also likely related to Obama's opposition to the introduction of single-payer national health insurance on the curious grounds that such a welcome social-democratic change would lead to employment difficulties for workers in the private insurance industry and that "voluntary" solutions are "more consonant" with "the American character" than "government mandates." The latter judgment is advanced despite the fact that a large U.S. majority supports government-mandated universal health insurance.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.p hp?option=com_content&task=view& id=204&Itemid=34

Doesn't feel too good does it? All of you who are faking outrage didn't give a crap when Edwards was smeared, you reveled in it!! Taste your own medicine!!

by RDemocrat 2007-06-25 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Russell Simmons Praises Edwards:

I don't know RDemocrat. That last paragraph needs a little work.  Pretty nasty.

by noquacks 2007-06-25 08:16AM | 0 recs

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