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The Truth Behind the Ad Attacking Cheri Beasley

Updated: Sep 15



With less than two months to go until Election Day, we’re inundated with political ads, many of them attack ads designed to convince voters that the targeted candidate is a sleazebag who’s unfit for office. Most people are sick of these kinds of ads, but there’s a reason both sides spend billions of dollars to flood the airways … it works.[1]


One ad that I’m seeing repeatedly is an ad attacking Cheri Beasley who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Richard Burr. The ad claims that “Cheri Beasley is just another phony politician.” It states that “special interests have too much power over Cheri Beasley” because she joined a law firm “that was paid millions to lobby.” The graphic accompanying the audio states that the law firm’s lobbying arm was “paid $3.5 million to lobby.”[2]


My immediate reaction upon seeing the ad was “well, that’s not good,” and that’s the exact reaction the ad’s creator hoped to evoke. They want to persuade voters who think Ted Budd is a dud that Cheri Beasley is even worse.


So, let’s take a few minutes and dig a little deeper.


Cheri Beasley served as a Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court from December 2012 to December 2020, including a stint as Chief Justice from March 1, 2019, until she left the bench on December 31, 2020, following her loss to Paul Newby in the November 2020 election. Out of 5,391,501 votes cast, Newby beat Beasley by 401 votes … 399 if you deduct the

fraudulent votes cast by Mark Meadows and his wife who claimed they lived in a mobile home in Scaly Mountain when they voted in 2020.[3]


After leaving the Supreme Court, Cheri Beasley joined the law firm McGuireWoods in January 2021. She left the firm eight months later in August 2021 when she decided to run for the Senate.[4] There has been no indication that she was involved in any lobbying activities while at McGuireWoods. McGuireWoods is an international law firm with over 1,000 attorneys and 24 offices around the world. According to Law.com, in 2021, McGuireWoods generated $953,548,000 in revenue and was the 67th highest grossing law firm in the world.[5] Assuming that the ad is correct about the firm earning $3.5 million from lobbying, that represents 0.37 percent of their revenue stream. To try and put that into a more relatable context, if you have a one-dollar bill in your wallet, 0.37 percent of that dollar equals less than four-tenths of one penny.


The ad implies that only a “phony politician” would be associated with a law firm that’s involved in lobbying like McGuireWoods. Well, one former member of the McGuireWoods team is George Allen, a Republican who served in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, and as Governor of Virginia.[6] Like Beasley, Allen left McGuireWoods when he decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 2000. Former McGuireWoods senior partner Richard Cullen stepped down in January 2022 to serve as legal counsel to Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin who many believe is potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Cullen previously represented Vice-President Mike Pence during the Mueller investigation.[7]


And what kind of “phony politician” would hire a law firm like McGuireWoods? I already mentioned former Vice-President Mike Pence who hired McGuireWoods to represent him during the Mueller investigation. Michael Pack, tapped to be the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (parent for Voice of America) by Donald Trump, awarded a no-bid contract to McGuireWoods to investigate deep-state actors within the organization netting McGuireWoods $1.625 million in fees.[8] And former NC 11 Representative and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is represented by a McGuireWoods team led by partner George Terwilliger in the House investigation into the 1/6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.[9]

So, if you accept the attack ad’s flawed syllogism – McGuireWoods does lobbying, Cheri Beasley was associated with McGuireWoods, therefore Cheri Beasley is “just another phony politician” – then Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Glenn Younkin, Mark Meadows, and George Allen are all “just phony politicians” too.


The ad ends saying that “Beasley lined her pockets with cash from PACs and corporate lobbyists” and she’s “just another phony politician.”


The ad is funded by the Senate Leadership Fund (“SLF”), a Super PAC linked to Mitch McConnell. According to their latest filing with the Federal Election Commission for the period ending June 30, 2022, the SLF has raised nearly $114 million in the current election cycle. Top donors include Rupert Murdoch, Charles Schwab, Stephen Schwarzman (CEO of the Blackstone Group), Kenneth Griffing (CEO of Citadel Investment Group), Chevron,

Occidental Petroleum, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, and James Davis (Chairman of New Balance Athletic Shoe Company).[10]


But by far the largest SLF donor at $33 million is One Nation, a “non-profit” group closely connected with the SLF. One Nation was created in 2015 by Karl Rove and is currently led by McConnell’s former chief of staff Steven Law. It purports to advocate for low taxes, conservative judges, and against CRT in schools.[11] Since it’s organized as a 501(c)(4), this “dark money” group does not have to identify its donors, but according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in 2020 AFLAC and the Southern Company were One Nation donors.[12] In the past, Sheldon Adelson said he donated $10 million to One Nation and both oil refiner Andeavor and the American Petroleum Institute voluntarily disclosed that they were One Nation donors.[13]


So, what’s the take-away? You’ve got big corporations and mega-rich individuals pouring millions into PACs and dark-money groups where they can spend tens of millions of dollars on propaganda to convince ordinary voters that candidates like Cheri Beasley are “phony politicians” because they’re in the pockets of the big corporations and mega-rich individuals who are hiding behind the shield of PACs and dark-money groups. It’s the wolves telling the sheep that the sheepdog belongs to the wolves, so the sheep should abandon the sheepdog … and then the wolves will feast.



Footnotes

[1] During the 2020 election cycle, over $2.5 billion was spent on television advertising in federal level races. https://www/pbs/org/newshour/show/unprecedented-spending-for-2020-political-ads [2] https://youtu.be/8k0hKC2RPeg [3]https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/08/mark-meadows-his-wife-debra-their-trailer-home-voter-registration/ [4] https://www.mcguirewoods.com/news/press-releases/2021/9/cheri-beasley-leaves-mcguirewoods [5] https://www.law.com/law-firm-profile/?id=204 [6] https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/1998/02/16/story3.html [7] https://www.mcguirewoods.com/news/press-releases/2022/1/richard-cullen-to-become-counselor-to-virginias-next-governor [8] https://whistleblower.org/press-release/press-release-whistleblowers-reveal-more-alarming-details-about-law-firm-contracts-awarded-by-voice-of-america-overseer-to-investigate-federal-employees/ [9] https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2021/12/20/a-top-republican-lawyer-distanced-himself-from-trumps-fraud-claims-why-is-he-now-representing-mark-meadows/ [10] https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/committee_id=C00571703&two_year_transaction_period =2022&data_type =processed [11] https://www.onenationamerica.org/ [12] https://www.citizensforethics.org/reports-investigations/crew-investigations/boosted-by-8-figure-donations-mcconnell-aligned-nonprofit-raised-172-million-in-2020/ [13] https://www.accountable.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/2021-10-13-One-Nation-Overview.pdf


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