Guest opinion: Laws for sale, prices slashed
February 27, 2015
The way some people see it, if you're not a billionaire, you're stupid and you need someone to make your decisions for you, to do things that are in your best interest whether you know it or not or like it or not.
Consider the petition recently submitted to the Nevada Legislature and Gov. Brian Sandoval for a ballot initiative that would change Nevada's gun laws. Nevadans for Background Checks has filed a petition with 250,000 signatures for a 2016 ballot initiative that calls for expanded background checks for all gun sales.
On the face of it, this is a well-intentioned proposal intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, although, as the Reno Gazette-Journal has pointed out, "Nevada's background check proposal may give the feeling that at least something is being done, but it is not a good use of time and money if the goal is to decrease gun violence."
But whether the proposal is good or bad is beside the point. What the Reno Gazette-Journal does not mention is that this is not an issue of Nevadans deciding which laws are best for them. This is an issue of a handful of billionaires attempting to buy laws in a state where none of them live.
Nevadans for Background Checks is a carefully crafted name intended to give the impression of a local, grassroots effort. You might ask yourself who the backers are of this "grassroots effort," but you won't find out. Nowhere on their safenevada.org website is any name mentioned. Nor is any name mentioned in the mainstream news stories about this grassroots effort.
Fortunately, reporter David Codrea of Examiner.com (one of the men who first broke the ATF Fast and Furious gun-running scandal) has painstakingly traced back the trail as much as possible. Safenevada.org is a domain name owned by Domains By Proxy, LLC, a company in Scottsdale, Ariz.
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That's not Nevada. It is, however, an effective way of concealing from the public who they really are.
In Nevada, the same group is registered with the Nevada Secretary of State, and the person who holds the business name is Margaret Rohlfing, whose address is 575 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
That's not Nevada. It is, however, the same address as the law firm that represents Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety organization.
The only person involved with Nevadans for Background Checks who is putatively in Nevada is the president, Tara Paone, but since her only given address is a P.O. Box in Las Vegas, it is unlikely she actually lives in the state, especially since she is also the treasurer of Everytown for Gun Safety in New York. She was also the director of the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund for I-594 in Washington state. In case you don't know, that's the gun-control initiative that recently passed in the Evergreen State.
So all the tracks and scat of Nevadans for Background Checks lead back to billionaire Michael Bloomberg, former nanny mayor of New York City, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which—after a lot of the mayors either publicly quit or were accused of various crimes—was quietly merged with his recently created Everytown for Gun Safety. But Hiz Honor is not alone. Warren Buffet (the second richest man in the world) is on Everytown's board. So is Nick Hanauer, one of the first investors in Amazon.com. So are billionaires Irwin (founder of Qualcomm) and Joan Jacobs. So is Kenneth Lerer, chairman and co-founder of the Huffington Post and former executive vice president of AOL Time Warner. So is Eli L. Broad, co-founder of Kaufman and Broad and former owner of Sun Life Insurance Company, which he sold for a paltry $18 billion. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer contributed $500,000 and $830,000, respectively, to the Washington gun-control effort.
But this is not about guns. This is about a handful of billionaires buying the laws they want in states where they don't even live. The way I see it, if you think that constitutes democracy in action, then you really are too stupid to do your own thinking. F