OVERRIDE

Public Affairs
Hardcover $27.99
Big Money
2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp-on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics

Summary

Mark Hanna—the turn-of-the-century iron-and-coal-magnate-turned-operative who leveraged massive contributions from the robber barons—was famously quoted as saying: “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.” To an extent that would have made Hanna blush, a series of developments capped by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision effectively crowned a bunch of billionaires and their operatives the new kings of politics.

Big Money is a rollicking tour of a new political world dramatically reordered by ever-larger flows of cash. Ken Vogel has breezed into secret gatherings of big-spending Republicans and Democrats alike—from California poolsides to DC hotel bars—to brilliantly expose the way the mega-money men (and rather fewer women) are dominating the new political landscape.

Great wealth seems to attach itself to outsize characters. From the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to the bubbling nouveau cowboy Foster Friess; from the Texas trial lawyer couple, Amber and Steve Mostyn, to the micromanaging Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg—the multimillionaires and billionaires are swaggering up to the tables for the hottest new game in politics. The prize is American democracy, and the players’ checks keep getting bigger.

about Kenneth P Vogel

  • Ken Vogel covers the confluence of money, politics, and influence for Politico. He’s won awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He analyzes politics on national television and radio, and lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Danielle, and their dog, Ali. Follow him on Twitter @kenvogel.

reviews

James Kwak, New York Times Book Review
“What Vogel gives us is a detailed look at this new political landscape, where voracious money-sucking beasts mingle with megadonors hungry for behind-the-scenes access…Whether we are witnessing is a tectonic shift or a gradual evolution, ‘Big Money’ amply and colorfully makes the case that our elected leaders are increasingly dependent on a small number of seven-digit checks written by a few dozen members of the 0.01 percent, and therefore politics are becoming a type of thoroughbred horse racing.”

Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal
“With ‘Big Money’—-which takes up the Kochs and other rich political contributors, including Sheldon Adelson, Rob McKay and liberal Texas lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn—-Mr. Vogel has succeeded in doing what I, for one, didn't think possible. He has made the subject of money in politics entertaining—indeed, gripping. He does this by a combination of factual analysis, eyebrow-raising scoops and zany stories.”

Michael Levin, Huffington Post
“Vogel is a master of Politico's deliciously snarky political style and offers us glimpses of our elders and betters at their least dignified. …Vogel's Big Money is a must-read if you are concerned about politics and the future of this country.”

Bethany McLean, Washington Post
“[Vogel] knows the characters and gets the game. Want to understand Mitt Romney’s fundraising operation, how Jim Messina mobilized big donors for Obama’s 2012 campaign or the war chest that is already growing underneath Hillary Clinton? Vogel tells the stories. He also offers lots of detail on one of the most fascinating frenmities in modern right-wing politics: Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. And he offers great facts to bolster his overall claim...To his great credit, Vogel is also pretty even-handed...This is a book by an insider, for insiders.”

Daniel Ben-Ami, Financial Times
“Kenneth Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico, the news organisation, does an excellent job in untangling this story. Much of the book consists of reportage, with him trying to attend secretive meetings between ultra-wealthy donors and electoral candidates seeking funding. Often he was barred from entering or ejected after being identified as a journalist….He is commendably non-partisan in his reporting. Vogel sketches the shadowy fundraising worlds of both of the main parties. He also reports on the intense factional rivalry that sometimes exists within their respective camps.”

Walter Shapiro, Brennan Center for Justice
“Vogel's paparazzi tactics -- coupled with relentless traditional reporting -- have made Big Money the smartest and most revealing book chronicling the Super PAC era. Instead of predictable legal analysis and a mind-numbing march of statistics, Vogel tries to grasp what motivates the wealthy to invest so heavily in Super PACs. And his answers do not fit into the neat ideological cubbyholes of either campaign reformers or believers in the nonsensical, but powerful, doctrine that money equals free speech.”

Chris Moody, Yahoo! News
“Pull[s] back the curtain on some of the most important players... Through impressive sourcing, Vogel’s work...offers a peek into the secretive universe of megadonors in the post-Citizens United era.”

The Economist's Democracy in America blog
“A highly entertaining account of the adventures of billionaires in politics.”

Joel Connelly, SeattlePI.com
“Vogel manages to entertain while reporting on the politics of excess, even when things turn

other editions

  • eBook | ISBN 9781610393393
    Pub date: 2014-06-03 | Price: $27.99/31.00 Canada
    6.125 x 9.250 | 320 Pages
    Political Science / Political Process / Elections
    Political Science / Political Process / Political Advocacy
    Political Science / American Government / General
    Request reprints and permissions
  • Hardcover | ISBN 9781610393386
    Pub date: 2014-06-03 | Price: $27.99/31.00 Canada
    6.400 x 9.500 | 320 Pages
    Political Science / Political Process / Elections
    Political Science / Political Process / Political Advocacy
    Political Science / American Government / General
    Request reprints and permissions