Trump’s picks for Federal Reserve, Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, have long political history

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Over the weekend, White House officials doubled down on controversial plans to nominate two political allies of President Donald Trump to the Federal Reserve board.

Trump reportedly plans to nominate one-time pizza chain owner, political commentator and 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain and longtime conservative economic writer and 2016 Trump advisor Stephen Moore. Both would likely face contentious Senate confirmation hearings, as the two picks are proving unpopular on Wall Street and among economists. Both Moore and Cain have long histories in the intersection of money and politics.

The discussion of elevating Cain, who built a fortune as CEO of Godfather Pizza, to the Fed was surprising because of his history as a critic of the organization, including a suggestion that the U.S. return to the gold standard. He does have some relevant experience. Throughout the 1990s, Cain served as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha Branch from 1989 to 1991 and then as the deputy chairman and later chairman of the head office from 1992 to 1996.   

Cain, who suspended his 2012 presidential bid amid allegations of sexual harassment, recently co-created a pro-Trump super PAC, America Fighting Back PAC, for the 2018 midterms. The super PAC, technically a hybrid PAC/super PAC known as a Carey committee, raised $347,101 during the 2018 cycle. A significant portion of that, $186,100, was dropped on independent expenditures mostly in support of Trump.

Back during the 2012 primaries, Cain raised $16.2 million and spent nearly all of it before ending his candidacy in December 2011. Cain was adept at reaching small-donors, raising $8.9 million from small individual contributions. Three outside groups supported him during that cycle, 9-9-9 Fund, Beat Obama PAC and Cain Connections PAC, spending a combined $308,700 on Cain’s behalf.   

In the run-up to that race, Cain also operated a leadership PAC dubbed the Hermanator PAC during the 2010 and 2012 cycles. In 2010, the PAC raised $221,946, including $10,000 from Robert and Janice McNair who own the Houston Texans. While some leadership PACs distribute funds to different candidates, the Hermanator spent most of its money on salaries and administrative travel and lodging.

In 2004, Cain ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Georgia. During that campaign, he raised just over $3 million mostly from individual contributions.

In fact, Cain’s involvement in money-in-politics goes back two decades to his time as CEO of the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry’s trade association, from 1996 to 1999. Campaign contributions from affiliates of the group rose dramatically in the two election cycles under Cain’s command. In the 1996 and 1998 cycles, contributions exceeded $1 million each year for the first time, a huge jump from the preceding three cycles. While contributions went way up, lobbying from the organization actually slightly fell from 1998 to 1999, the only two years of Cain’s term that are available from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Cain and his wife, Gloria, have a lengthy history as contributors to federal campaigns, giving a combined $174,844 since the 1990 cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Founder of powerful anti-tax group, Stephen Moore, also set to be nominated

Trump’s other pick for the Fed, Stephen Moore, comes with his own controversies and political involvement. Having worked for the conservative Heritage Foundation, Moore has been a longtime critic of the Fed’s policies and, like Cain, advocates for a return to the gold standard. He served as one of the 2016 Trump campaign’s top economic advisors.

Additionally, Moore faces questions regarding his personal and financial past. Divorce records show he was held in contempt of court after he failed to pay more than $300,000 in alimony, child support and other money owed in his divorce settlement. The IRS also claims Moore owes them $75,000 in unpaid taxes.

One of Moore’s most important forays into the realm of money-in-politics came as founder and early president of the powerful Club for Growth, an anti-tax organization that supports a fiscally conservative agenda. Founded in 1999, the group now boasts more than 250,000 members and is a potent pro-Republican election force. While Moore was president of Club for Growth, they expanded quickly, with campaign contributions from Club for Growth members increasing every election cycle from 2000 to 2004. Currently, the organization is stronger than ever, with contributions reaching nearly $9.3 million during the 2018 cycle.

His time at the group didn’t last forever. Club for Growth was hit with a $350,000 fine for FEC violations in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 cycles. Moore was pushed out of the organization at the end of 2004 over disputes with board members.

As a “dark money” 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Club for Growth now spends heavily on independent expenditures. During the 2018 midterms, the organization dropped almost $13.7 million to  support Republican candidates.

After being booted from Club for Growth, Moore went on to found a 527 committee called Free Enterprise Fund. In the 2006 cycle, the committee raised $1.2 million and then only $93,337 in 2008. The group’s corresponding PAC raised $144,424 in 2006 and just over $2,000 in 2008. One of the PAC’s recipients back in 2006 was an Indiana congressman by the name of Mike Pence.              

Despite his career of creating political organizations, Moore has a rather light contribution history of his own. Since the 2000 cycle, he and his now ex-wife combined have contributed just $8,000.

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