The “Vulture Lord” Behind Martha McSally

Emily Kirkland
In this series, the Money Behind Martha, we’ll be exploring the deep-pocketed donors behind unelected US Senator Martha McSally.

Note: the cover art for this series originally featured an image showing Martha McSally as a puppet. This had inappropriate anti-Semitic connotations given this first piece’s focus on Paul Singer, who is Jewish. The cover art has been removed. My sincere apologies for my error in judgement in posting it in the first place.

Here’s what it takes to get publicly called a “vulture lord” by the former President of Argentina:

  • Buy debt for pennies on the dollar from countries in crisis, from Peru to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Haul those governments into court and demand full repayment of every dollar they owe, even as their citizens go hungry or die from lack of basic medicine and sanitation
  • Spend decades on litigation until your expensive lawyers finally win and you’re able to make back 10x or 100x your original investment
  • Add a side business buying up US companies to squeeze them for profits, sometimes forcing mass lay-offs in the process
  • Do it again and again until you’ve topped governments, impoverished entire countries and communities and made yourself a very rich man

This is billionaire Paul Singer’s playbook, and after 40 years of it, he’s very wealthy indeed. Over the last few years, he’s been busy spending his ill-gotten fortune to push his personal political views. Although less notorious than the Koch brothers, he’s equally noxious, spending millions to push an ultra-conservative agenda of corporate tax cuts, shrinking governmental agencies, and the elimination of financial regulations.

He’s also Martha McSally’s single biggest donor.

Singer’s support explains a lot when it comes to McSally’s positions on the issues. For years, one of Singer’s top causes was the repeal of Dodd-Frank, the law designed to curb abuses in the financial industry. In 2017, having received nearly $70,000 in donations from Singer and his firm, McSally voted for the Financial Choice Act, which repealed significant portions of Dodd-Frank. Since then, she’s accepted another $120,000 from the financier.

Singer is also a climate denier: his think tank, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, has spent years insisting that climate change is not a significant problem and that fossil fuel pollution is not to blame. McSally, in turn, has echoed that party line, saying that she’s not sure if climate change is even driven by fossil fuels.

We could have a US Senator who would make thoughtful, informed decisions on policy based on what’s best for Arizonans. Instead, we have an unelected McSally, who makes decisions based on the bottom line of a billionaire who lives in a penthouse on the Upper West Side.

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