According to extensive reporting by Rolling Stone's Andy Kroll, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rise as one of Donald Trump's closest congressional allies has been exposed as the end result of a cynical dark money plot to sell the California Republican as a like-minded Trumper to the ex-president's fans.
Calling McCarthy's rise part of an "extreme MAGA makeover," the report relies on documents that showed a cabal of lobbyists and big-money donors backed a media blitz posing as grassroots tea-party populists to boost McCarthy's profile.
McCarthy has been one of Trump's biggest defenders following the Jan 6th insurrection, doing all he can to derail a House investigation into the riot that sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives. For that he has been rewarded by Trump calling him "my Kevin."
However, how McCarthy inserted himself into Trump's inner circle dates back to supporters helping him change his image as one of the GOP's "young gun" inner circle to a lawmaker who rages against what Trump calls the "swamp."
As Kroll writes, "McCarthy's extreme MAGA makeover was an awkward one. Yet he didn't have to do it alone. At a critical moment in McCarthy's ascent, a network of swampy operatives mobilized in his defense and a mysterious dark-money group carpet-bombed the airwaves to position McCarthy as the heir apparent to lead the Trump-era Republican Party."
The report notes, "This slimy story, which is laid out in documents obtained by Rolling Stone, reveals how a crew of lobbyists, political consultants, and big-money donors seemingly masqueraded as grassroots tea-party populists in a bid to bolster McCarthy's credibility with Trump supporters. The point of this scheme was to help McCarthy defeat a far-right challenger in an important intra-party election, elevating him to become the House GOP leader and ensuring that a corporate ally remained at the head of the party."
Writing, "Election experts who've reviewed the details of McCarthy's extreme MAGA makeover say it's hard to envision a sequence of events more emblematic of the pathetic state of the campaign-finance system and the way in which anonymous cash now reigns king in American politics," Kroll adds, "In other words, it's not only Trump supporters getting duped by dark money. It's all of us, and it'll continue to happen so long as the untraceable cash continues to flow. The McCarthy blitz shows just how convoluted the money trail can be."
After detailing the media blitz-- heavily steeped in racism -- and the efforts of a shadowy "State Tea Party Express' that was devoted to raising McCarthy's profile, Kroll explained, "In the end, McCarthy's dark-money makeover proved a winning proposition for all the worst people. McCarthy won his leadership race. State Tea Party Express wielded influence without accountability. The actual donors, whoever they are, saw a return on their money in the form of a friendly Republican without even having to be named."
You can read the entire extensive Rolling Stone report by Andy Kroll here.