In July Health Care for America Now (HCAN) joined leading national tax fairness advocates in launching the Tax the Ultra-Rich Now (TURN) campaign, a national campaign to raise awareness about the ways that concentrated wealth among a growing number of billionaires perpetuates inequality and skews democracy. TURN partners aimed to educate voters in key states about how the growing wealth of the billionaire class impacts economic opportunity for the rest of us and drowns out the voices of average voters with their outsized campaign contributions and political agendas.
The TURN campaign expanded public support for taxing the ultra-rich by collaborating with grassroots organizations in Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the months leading up to the midterm elections. Partners canvassed voters, wrote op-eds, lobbied their Members of Congress to support the tax enforcement on wealthy tax cheats in the Inflation Reduction Act and released videos highlighting how billionaires are influencing elections by leveraging billions of dollars they have hoarded to give their preferred candidates an advantage.
In Nevada, HCAN partner Battle Born Progress (BBP) launched a video targeting n Adam Laxalt with hashtag, #Don’tBuyMyNevada. The BBP video highlights donations to Adam Laxalt’s campaign to defeat incumbent Senator Cortez Masto and his connection to a range of causes that most Nevadans do not support. According to Annette Magnus, Executive Director of BBP, “Instead of protecting Nevadans and representing our values, Adam Laxalt is beholden to ultra-rich billionaires who have an agenda that keeps them getting richer at the expense of working families. It’s clear that some candidates, like Adam Laxalt, are willing to sell our state to the highest bidder. It’s time to stop the ultra rich from meddling in our elections and let the people decide what is best for Nevada.”
In North Carolina, Billionaire Ted Budd is running for election to the US Senate against Cheri Beasely. Action NC launched a video with the hashtag #ThisBuddsNotforYou. Action NC launched their video on September 21 in conjunction with the release of a new Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) report highlighting Club for Growth’s (CGA) contributions to Budd and using billionaire funds to influence elections and his own. CGA spent over $14 million, nearly 30% of its spending on the midterms through July, to make Rep. Ted Budd this year’s Republican Senate candidate in North Carolina. CAG spent more than two-and-half times the $5.5 million Budd spent on his own behalf.
In Pennsylvania, PA’s biggest billionaire, Wall Street investor Jeffrey Yass (net worth, $12 billion) of Pennsylvania, donated $5.5 million to candidates in this election cycle. Yass bankrolls candidates who support his conservative, anti-public school agenda, while paying lower tax rates than middle class workers like nurses and firefighters. The Pennsylvania Budget Center released two videos, “Meet Billionaire Jeffrey Yass” and “Jeffrey Yass, Stop Buying My Senator,” using hashtag, #TaxthatYass statewide to expose his efforts.
In Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin launched a video highlighting a “Senator for Sale,” hashtag, #SenatorforSale. In 2016 billionaires Richard Uihlein and Diane Hendricks spent $20 million to get Republican Senator Johnson elected, and their investment paid off big time. In 2017, they received a combined $80 million in tax breaks from just one little tax cut Johnson carved out for wealthy business owners in the Trump-GOP tax cut law. . That tax cut personally benefited Johnson and he doubled his own wealth during his time as a U.S. Senator.