What the Gardner Recording and Mitt’s Millions Have in Common

Keith Gardner won’t use email because, he says, “I don’t wanna go to court or jail.” The sentiment makes sense – Gardner’s a modern politician doing modern political work. Of course he doesn’t want people finding out.

The great reporter Matt Taibbi writes about Mitt Romney’s means of making money in the new issue of Rolling Stone. Romney’s job at Bain Capital involved taking on huge sums of debt, then transferring the responsibility for paying that debt onto someone else.

Romney’s Bain Capital would buy, say, the company KB Toys with $302 million borrowed from large banks. It’s a good toy store, in malls all over the country. It knows how to market and price products kids want.

KB Toys has to start paying off the debt their new bosses have tied to the company. They also have to pay huge fees to Bain for its services. In the short term, there’s money in the company’s stocks and KB stores are still open and selling action figures in America’s malls.

That short-term money pays off huge for Bain. KB’s parent company estimated Bain made a 900-percent return on its investment in the deal. Long term, though, it’s doom. KB Toys fell into bankruptcy.

What do you do when you make so many millions off debt and ownership? The kind of person in that line of work starts playing the political game, throwing lavish parties and making fat campaign donations. Maybe he even runs for public office.

That kind of person acquires the power to change the tax code, so even more millions can be saved. Make no mistake: The rich are paying fleets of lobbyists to keep their taxes as low as possible, and this one area where government excels. A millionaire like Mitt Romney pays 13 percent of the huge money he makes back to the government, while we in the five-figures range pay back closer to 30 percent.

The raw, pure pursuit of money at such a high level requires manipulating the system. I thought of this when news broke that Keith Gardner, Gov. Susana Martinez’s chief of staff, was recorded saying he doesn’t use his email because he doesn’t “wanna go to court or jail.”

The fair question to ask becomes “What are you doing that you think you might land in jail?”

No way he would answer that, but I bet I know. I bet he works constantly to make money on behalf of political players. We know about the Downs deal, which appears to have been a major, billion-dollar favor for campaign donors. Gardner was copied onto all those private emails about the deal, and now we know why he didn’t respond.

These people don’t want us to know what they’re doing. If Gardner spent his days championing important causes and helping normal New Mexicans, he would be fine sending email. The thought that he shouldn’t, for fear of going to jail, would never even occur to Gardner if he were a good public servant.

He’s not, though. He’s a mini-Mitt Romney. When you follow what’s actually happening in politics beyond the manufactured and distracting narratives, you realize this is all about money. 

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