Welcome to PAY DIRT! I’m your host, Daily Beast White House reporter Lachlan Markay, and I hope you’ll join me once a week as we dig into the ugly underbelly of our nation’s capital in a newsletter focusing on corruption, campaign finance, and influence-peddling. There’s unprecedented interest these days in those sorts of issues, but too often reporters treat the amazing muckraking tools at our disposal like dry and unintelligible texts that need to be translated into a common tongue. Instead, I aim to bring you along as I dig into the data and public records and voluminous sources of information on our elected officials and their purse-masters. Investigative reporting is fun, and I want you to enjoy it with me. So let’s dive into this inaugural issue as we tease out some of this week’s hidden stories of grift and influence.
Dark Money and Terrorist Sympathizers
Politico’s Eliana Johnson had a crazy scoop yesterday on a dark money group, the American Exceptionalism Institute, that’s buying ads accusing Sen. Rand Paul of siding with terrorists for opposing the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. Follow me down the rabbit hole of dark money flows and shady political operatives involved with this effort, which has some very interesting connections to those in the orbit of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.