Going Dutch

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It's not that I begrudge a guy an urge to spend time in the land of gouda and windmills but tell me it doesn't look a mite suspicious when Roland Arnall dumps millions into the election of George W. Bush then winds up Ambassador to The Netherlands?

The Minnesota Monitor certainly finds it suspicious, and lays out the money ties between Arnall and his wife and the White House:

 

He personally donated $5 million to help run a pro-Bush ad in 2004 and Ameriquest, a mortgage company Arnall founded, gave $250,000 to President Bush's inaugural in 2005. Arnall and his wife, Dawn, also helped raise more than $200,000 each to secure Bush's re-election.

And then of course there was $5 million for the RNC national convention -- remember that little loophole for private money -- donated in 2004, before Arnall's appointment as Ambassador in 2005 (a contentious nomination process complicated by the many lawsuits pending against Arnall and his business interests) before, as the article notes, the subprime collapse. As it happens, the lawsuits include complaints against Arnell's lending company, Ameriquest, for predatory subprime lending practices, which we've seen have the influence of campaign cash to thank in part for their ascendancy.

Conventions remain a major vehicle for private cash in elections, and the article winds to a close wondering what other kinds of influence have been bought in exchange for funding them:


There are no donation limits, so companies and organizations take advantage of the moment to spread the wealth around. About $78 million was poured into the 2004 RNC convention by donors, such as pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, which gave $1.6 million, and Bristol-Meyers-Squibb, which gave $250,000. Meanwhile, the Democrats took in more than $50 million in 2004, including more than $3 million from telecommunications behemoth Verizon.

 

Yeah, nobody on this list has any pressing policy interests.