The Indicator from Planet Money - Big Donors & Pay-To-Play Politics

The Center for Public Integrity joins The Indicator with an excerpt from The Heist, a new podcast exploring money and politics in the Trump Administration.

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Content Keywords: Doug deason Donald Trump indicator

This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith, and I'm Sally herships. Tell your friend to the show. You have a new podcast out right now called the Heist. Yes. It's a series all about President Trump how Power & politics work in Trump's America and is part of the series you explore the world a big political donors including dark money 3 all it is a world of real human beings very very wealthy political donors and these people give money to candidates in exchange for influence and a lot of candles are totally unregulated and we actually got one of these big donors to talk to us and just to be crystal clear here pay gives via dark money, but also just the normal way in this is a big deal because a lot of times we just have no idea who these people are but you talk with Doug deason. He was right open. He's a Texas man big Republican donor to be clear though. Sally dark money is totally by party.

Democrats get millions and millions of dollars through dark money to 100% but just Ethan is a trump supporter and he and his family gave $1000000 to help get Donald Trump elected a lot of zeros in it. So when the president was elected Doug had some expectations there were a couple of issues that really mattered to him and he was counting on the president to come to run his promises including the tax cut the tax bill that Trump had promised on the campaign Trail, right? And when President Trump took office, there was a republican majority in Congress and Doug. Awesome. This is going to happen fast write the legislation is going to fly through but that actually did not happen and Doug got pretty frustrated. He did so he got in touch with his network of political donors a lot of them in Texas, and he said until we see some kind of action. Let's just turn the spigot off.

I made it very clear to politicians about the house and the Senate the Dallas is a piggy bank of the Republican Party North Texas Lou fries at North Texas Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding areas that more money comes out of here for Pelicans anywhere else the Country Reporter sterek liner talk with a decent about this world of money and politics and what happens when you turn on the speaker.

Support for this podcast in the following message come from Capital One brought to you by the Capital One Venture Card. When you earn unlimited double miles on every purchase your next trip is closer than you think what's in your wallet. This message comes from NPR sponsor. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Michigan is leading the US for Mobility related patents and is developing their future and their world class autonomous vehicle testing sites. If you're ready to move into the future with your Mobility business, see how they can help at Planet Pure - opportunity one thing we want to make clear is that donors like Doug decent do not typically make themselves available to talk to reporters like us about their political donations, but decent was happy to talk, but I'm now recording a really nice guy. We talked for more than 2 hours. Most Americans have not heard of this guy in Texas though. He's a known quantity and

Political circles done decent lives in a very expensive neighborhood in Dallas his neighbors include George W bush and Don Henley of the Eagles. He's married has two kids. He attends an Evangelical megachurch and he is not a self-made rich person. That's right. His money comes from his father. His dad is Darwin deason a billionaire who made his fortune by selling his data company to Xerox in 2010. His dad is a flamboyant character. He's got a huge yacht private planes and he's been married at least six times solterra. One thing we haven't talked about yet. What does still decent do for a living with his job? He manages his family's money. His father's money. These are very large Investments journalist describe Doug deason as an average rich guy, which is kind of odd because

He's not he gives millions of dollars to politicians like Donald Trump and why he stinks and has to say and the influencing American politics on a national scale exactly. When I talk to Daddy said everything came back to politics. It's more than a hobby for him. So you got involved basically to make change. That's why you're a donor to change the country in a lot of ways to make change at a scale that really makes a difference is through legislation and through politics you getting the right people nominated and elected. We wanted to make change I were conservatives but we're not conservatives that believe that we should go back to the 50s for the things should stay static on we believe in progress on it will really classic liberals. You can always improve and make things better talk radio show

I want to play this for you here. He is talking about why he didn't accept an ambassadorship that Trump offered he wouldn't tell us where he was going to go. But this is a classic reward for big-time donors like Doug deason after touching scene on the ambassador's ship which didn't surprise them because they knew that I'm on a mission and I can't do it for another country in and out of the government's payroll. So I assume that's what I wanted to do. And so they set me up with Jared and his team Jared Kushner. So basically Doug deason turn down an ambassadorship so that he could stay at home and keep working on getting politicians to do what he thinks needs to be done. I mean somebody call the system pay-to-play is that how he sees it as expecting members of Congress to do what they said they're going to do and the promises that they've made

On the campaign Trail and the promises that they've made to him in private conversations when he's giving them campaign contributions. I asked him about this. Do you think that contributing money to these lawmakers gets you access that other people don't have of course.

Do you think that's fair?

You have never really thought about if that's fair or not that 99% of Americans don't have and it was very surprising that he hadn't really thought much about this. You hear a lot from people like Obama or Elizabeth Warren who critique big donors who say they have an outsize ability to influence change in campaign contributions to I've never we don't give a dime without getting assignment. I have 25 easily 2530 Senators cell phones, you know, I have countless countless, but the many congressmen and women cell phone numbers.

But they have access and they have money and what you think about that. It's no secret there. So my best closest friends are you know, the tourney general of texts, you know, and I've got really good friends throughout state and federal government and and they're good friends. We do we fish together. We do things together and all that. How did I build that relationship is you know what I'm not in this for myself and they know that so, you know, I've never ever ever been accused of being you have in politics to benefit me or dad or our businesses because we don't have any business as you know, we we just invest now, there's nothing that they can do for us other than you know, creative safe country to live in or stay safe States and save City. Yeah, and then and then just help other people.

We're headed for an election and there's this whole formal incredibly public process that takes place but at the same time behind the scenes donors like the Visa and are also incredibly powerful exactly and Doug deason has to know he has a lot of influence because after he and other wealthy donors cut off funding they got what they wanted Republicans very quickly made tax reform their top priority and that's when duck season started writing checks. Again, the Dallas PD Bank was open the Dallas piggy bank was open. This is an excerpt of the heist a new podcast from the center for public Integrity. Check it out. Wherever you get your podcast special things to the team of the Center for Public Integrity including Curtis box Allison McAdam Allen homes with his Brady Woods Forest Camille Peterson & Ally Swenson. This episode of the indicator was produced by Jamila Huxtable and Darian Woods. It was fact-checked by Shawn. Saldania, the indicators edited by Patty Hearst and is the production of NPR
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