On one level this story is a nothing-burger. Campaign-finance reports Monday revealed that the very wealthy and politically active Ricketts family (one of them is the sitting governor of Nebraska) is the principle source of funding for a new super-pac opposing Donald Trump’s nomination. Trump had some dark words on Twitter about that: “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” Sure sounds like standard-brand Trump intimidation, right? The sort of thing he does to rival candidates and unfriendly writers and media figures every single day.
But it’s important to remember that Republicans these days are extremely solicitous and protective of rich donors like the Ricketts clan. Their funding prerogatives are treated routinely as the very heart and soul of the First Amendment — almost up there with the sacred rights of faith-based discrimination by bakers and florists of conscience. And the idea that even disclosure of their identities is inviting government jackboots kicking down their doors is central to the so-called IRS/Lois Lerner scandal, whereby donor anonymity for nonprofit groups is regarded as roughly equivalent to the Magna Carta.
Noted Trump-hater and National Review editor Rich Lowry was very quick to make the connection:
I can tell you that progressive writers every day chafe against the temptation to use the F-word — you know, that word roughly synonymous with right-wing authoritarianism — with respect to Trump. Looks like conservatives may soon be giving them cover.