Blackwater founder Erik Prince once donated to PA Green Party
Maybe you heard that the founder of U.S. private security firm Blackwater, Erik Prince, is speaking at the Free Library of Philadelphia this morning. The United Arab Emirates resident is doing so as part of the library’s “Leading Voices: Conversations from the C-Suite” speaker series meant to promote “the brightest minds in business.”
Prince has made a lot of money running Blackwater, often criticized as a “mercenary army” by anti-war activists and others; a required security firm by proponents of their work. So it sort of makes sense that he’d be speaking at the $40 per ticket event—and that a horde of protesters are expected to meet him on the Central Branch’s steps.
What makes a little less sense is that Prince, an avowed Republican, once donated to the Pennsylvania Green Party, handing over $5,000 to the party affiliate in Luzerne County.
The year was 2006, President George W. Bush’s approval ratings were in Obamacare territory, and Pennsylvania was looking like one of the easiest, and perhaps most important Senate pickups for Democrats.
Then-Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum had been considered a rising star in the socially conservative Republican movement up until that time; perhaps a presidential contender come 2008.
But his consistent votes for the war effort in Iraq had become a strain on his approval rating and he had become extremely vulnerable.
To combat Santorum’s inevitable defeat, the Pennsylvania Republican Party were discreetly, then not-so-discreetly, helping the effort to get Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli on the state ballot. Pennsylvania is infamous for keeping independent and third-party candidates from competing in elections.
Many believed (and still do) that Republicans won the 2000 election after winning Florida, and won Florida because Independent candidate Ralph Nader had amassed a large number of voted and spoiled the election for Democrat Al Gore.
So especially Republicans interested in keeping a solid pro-war senator in Pennsylvania were instructed to donate to the Green Party, helping Romanelli get on the ballot and, perhaps, ruin things for Democrat Bob Casey come November 2006. It was a small price for Prince, who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to federal campaigns and causes over the years.
Romanelli still got knocked off the ballot, Santorum still lost, badly, and Bob Casey had a quiet first term. Members of the Green party largely admit nowadays that the GOP was going out of its way to help Romanelli get on the ticket. What they haven’t helped with, however, is paying off Romanelli’s $80,000 in legal bills after Casey’s law team invalidated enough signatures to clean up the ballot.