John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Strange Bedfellows Backing Smith Over Simpson

Posted on March 2, 2014
Mike Simpson, official Congressional photo portrait

Mike Simpson, official Congressional photo portrait

It turns out, a strange collection of bedfellows have coalesced around Bryan Smith’s efforts to oust Mike Simpson from Congress.

It started  with the Club for Growth, who promised early to take out the reliably conservative Simpson.

The Club’s biggest supporter is Peter Thiel, a successful entrepreneur, but also a radical libertarian and a big proponent of gay marriage (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Later on, the Madison Group announced that it was hiring a field operator to lead the campaign against Simpson.  The Madison Group is now being run by another former Congressman, Jim Ryun, a former Olympian who ran such a lousy campaign for reelection in 2006, that he lost the seat. Originally founded as an organization dedicated to funding pro-life candidates, the Madison Group has targeted Simpson, despite the fact that he has a 100 percent pro-life record in Congress.

It turns out the field operator that was hired by the Madison Group is a huge proponent of pot legalization.  Here is what I wrote about this a few weeks ago:
The Madison Project has hired Ryan Davidson to run its field operations in a quixotic attempt to defeat Congressman Mike Simpson in a Republican primary.  Simpson is also 100% pro-life, which makes it more weird that Jim Ryun’s Madison Project would be involved in this effort on the other side, given its history.

Davidson is best known in Idaho circles as being “Mr. Pot.”  That’s not because he is a purveyor of Kitchen necessities.  He is not “Mr. Pot and Pan.”

Nope, he is Mr. Pot because he is (or was) the Chairman of the Liberty Lobby and according to a Idaho newspaper, he is known as the pot guy for fighting for pro-pot initiatives in local Idaho jurisdictions.  Davidson pushed to legalize medical marijuana, pushed to tax and regulate marijuana, pushed to legalize industrial hemp, and pushed to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority of the police department (putting him in line with the Obama Administration) in four separate ballot initiatives.

Davidson was also a key supporter of Ron Paul in the Presidential primaries of 2008, but he took time out from that campaign to make sure that the City of Hailey, Idaho was a safe place for pot-smokers and pot-sellers.

Recently, U.S News and World Report examined the funding for another group called the Young Americans for Liberty that is also working hard to beat Simpson.  Turns out that most of the funding came from a couple whose latest business venture is peddling pornography.

Here is how the article put it:
Young Americans for Liberty’s political action committee – Liberty Action Fund – bills itself as a youth-driven, grass-roots machine ready to harness enthusiasm for former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and leverage it into support for constitutionally focused and libertarian-minded congressional candidates. The PAC is an offshoot of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian youth organization with 500 chapters and more than 125,000 participants, according to the YAL website.

While the group has many donors who give less than $200 in contributions, more than half of the money the group has raised – $10,000 this election cycle – has come from one couple, Cyan and Scott Banister. The Banisters are entrepreneurs and “angel donors” known for their ties to companies like PayPal and IronPort Systems, the latter of which Scott Banister co-founded and then sold to Cisco Systems for $830 million in 2007.

In recent years, the Banisters also have become synonymous with Zivity, an adult photography and networking site they co-founded. The site is “a community of models, photographers and their fans,” the website reads. “Whether it’s erotic, artistic, fantasy, or documentary, fans can show their support by voting on sets, which gives money back to those artists.”

Well, I guess one man’s art is another man’s pornography.

Mike Simpson is not really into porn, pot or whatever Peter Thiel is into.  He is your conventional conservative.  He is pro-life, pro-gun and pro-political process.  In his spot as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing the EPA, Simpson is in a good position to protect his constituents from President Obama and his overzealous regulators.

Bryan Smith, a trial lawyer who lobbied hard against tort reform as a private citizen and who owns a collection agency, likes to call himself as a Constitutional Conservative.    His biggest backers -- a collection of strange bedfellows to say the very least -- have a far different agenda than the one supported by most conservatives, Constitutional or not.