A Review of the Election from a Narrow Perspective

Years ago David Letterman would provide reviews of movies from a narrow perspective. I particularly enjoyed the review he got from a welder on the movie Flashdance.  The real welder pointed out that the woman who was supposed to be a welder by day and a dancer by night did have beautiful hair and they had her take off her mask with the hair loose in the movie as I recall. However, the real welder said that you could not have such hair and weld. (It might catch on fire).

With this type of narrow mindset, we turn to last night’s elections only for the purpose of seeing what effect they could have on the False Claims Act.

First the good news. From a False Claims Act perspective, having Charles Grassley Chair the Judiciary Committee is about as good as it gets.  Senator Grassley of Iowa is likely to ascend to this position. It may be a special irony for him to do so knowing his new Junior Senator Joni Ernst defeated a guy who questioned Grassley’s education and ability to be a Judiciary Chair. Sen. Grassley is the modern hero of whistleblower law and the author of the 1986 amendments to the Act, which brought it back to life.  It is virtually impossible to expect that the law will come to any harm from legislation, as long as he is in such a position. Grassley’s bio says he was born in 1933 and he is now obviously not a young man.  He won re-election in the off year of 2010 and his seat in Iowa is up in 2016.

Will he run again?

That is a big question for False Claims Act political observers.

The bad news is that Senator Grassley’s party and almost everyone who has been elected from that party, is now supported by interests hostile to the False Claims Act.  (To be fair funding sources are generally not in the hands of people who like the act of either party.)

Specifically, the Chamber of Commerce according to all reports spent money and worked on elections very aggressively this cycle. Their goal was to defeat so called Tea Party Republicans in the primaries and then win the general election according to Politico.

Conservative groups spent millions in the general election:

Conservative outside groups — including establishment mainstays
like Karl Rove’s Crossroads outfits and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
as well as Tea Party outfits like the Senate Conservatives Fund and
FreedomWorks — combined to spend $62 million in primary and runoff
elections in 2014, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election
Commission data.

Read more on Politico here.

However, the groups that had the greatest success and the candidates who won the most were those that supported non Tea Party candidates. Candidates like Pat Roberts of Kansas and Thad Cochran of Mississippi who share the views of the Chamber now must feel more aligned with them than ever.  Cochran had to survive a Tea Party Challenge prior to winning re-election.

While the Tea Party may not like lawyers, they hate government mis-spending more.  Senators who share the Chamber of Commerce perspective are probably the worst possible group for the False Claims Act. So, now that the process seems to give the Chamber the opportunity to save a candidate from losing to the Tea Party and also help them win an election against a Democrat, it would seem they are in an even stronger position in Congress.

Having had a taste of success in this election cycle and absent virtually any legal restriction on campaign spending, we can expect the Chamber to continue to work hard and elect more Senators and members of Congress  who share their views.  One of their biggest and most public stands has been to take every opportunity to attack the False Claims Act.

Therefore, from the narrow perspective of the False Claims Act and whistleblower law, this election was destructive. It did strengthen the hand of one champion of the Act, but overall the enemies of the False Claims Act have made greater inroads in Congress.

These groups can spend an unlimited amount of money in the next election cycle. Its enough to make you want to set fire to your hair.