On January 14, 168 standing members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) will hold an election to select the next national chairman of the party. Current RNC Chairman Michael Steele is running for a second term against a number of challengers, including Saul Anuzis, Ann Wagner, Maria Cino, Gentry Collins, and Reince Priebus.
Priebus, the current state chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, is positioning himself as the true conservative alternative to Steele. His announcement video contained militant rhetoric, like a claim that Democratic policies do “damage” to the country. Three separate times on a recent conference call, Priebus called for the “execution” of President Obama, later saying he meant Osama bin Laden. RNC committee member Jim Bopp, the leader of the far right faction of the RNC, endorsed Priebus last week.
Despite his heated anti-Obama attacks, Priebus makes a living at a law firm far more comfortable with the policies of President Obama. Priebus works as a partner at the Milwaukee law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. Over the summer, the firm created a series of presentations to explain health reform to its clients and to pitch the firm’s services for employers looking to comply with new health reform regulations. In one presentation, John Barlament, a colleague to Priebus at the firm, said that a health reform repeal is not only unlikely, but that the lawsuits brought by Republican Party allies to declare the law unconstitutional probably have no merit. Referring to the controversy over the individual mandate, Barlament explained that the commerce clause of the constitution “gives Congress authority to act on his legislation”:
“Don’t hold your breath,” Barlament advised employers hoping the Affordable Care Act will be repealed. A number of political and business groups have called for repeal or significant revisions, but Barlament said there is nothing on the “near horizon.”Lawsuits filed to block the case are unlikely to succeed because the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority to act on this legislation.
Presentations from Priebus’s law firm also tout health reform benefits routinely ignored by right-wing partisans, like generous subsidies to small businesses, vastly expanding health insurance coverage in America, closing the Medicare Part D donut hole, and the end to egregious insurance company abuses (ending the program of capping benefits, ending “rescissions,” ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions).
It’s not the first time Priebus’s law firm has contradicted his role as a Republican partisan. As FrumForum reported, the website for his law firm indicated that Priebus had been part of a team dedicated to steering projects from the Recovery Act to clients. Despite the multiple pages on the law firm website indicating Priebus’s involvement in obtaining stimulus grants, he denied ever working on that part of his law firm’s business.