Dana Watch: Atlas Shrugged

Illustration by Bob Aul

“Imagine if George W. Bush had told us in 2001 he wanted to start a series of wars that would kill 6,000 Americans, wound tens of thousands more, kill hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners, make millions homeless, totally destroy ancient cities, and wreck several countries. Add to that the expenditure of $5 trillion to $6 trillion, and after 16 years have more people committed to attack and destroy us than before, with no end in sight. Would anyone have agreed to such a disaster other than the neoconservatives?”

That quote sounds as if it came from Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s Independent U.S. senator, darling of the progressive movement and staunch opponent of the Gulf wars and perpetual Middle East warfare. The actual speaker was Florida artist and sculptor George O’Neill Jr., however.

Given views similar to Sanders’ on war, you might assume O’Neill supported Democrat Harley Rouda, who had the backing of Sanders’ Our Revolution as well as Indivisible and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in the 48th Congressional District’s June primary.

Nope. Through Atlas PAC—a Newport Beach-based, conservative, political-action committee that supports low taxation, individual liberty and limited government—O’Neill provided most of the $63,000 for advertising in support of the primary campaign of the 48th’s incumbent, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Pop-Up Ad).

O’Neill is the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller Jr., the oldest of the fifth generation of Rockefellers and vice president of the Rockefellers’ investment firm Meriwether Capital LLC. According to the Wall Street Journal, O’Neill is also one of the two American contacts of alleged Russian spy Maria (Mariia) Butina as described in U.S. government affidavits.

On Jan. 31, 2017, O’Neill hosted a four-hour dinner for former and current Russian officials and U.S. Republicans and conservatives. Among the attendees were Butina and Rohrabacher, who has called the Russian spy case “a sham.”

O’Neill champions the “noninterventionist right,” which abhors the idea of the U.S. policing the world, and he outspokenly advocates for better U.S.-Russia relations—just like Rohrabacher, who has been called “Putin’s favorite congressman.”

Do you know who else has called for warming up to the Putin regime? Bernie Sanders, who has said the U.S. should work with Russia to defeat ISIS and end Syria’s civil war.

Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted Sept. 28 against releasing interview transcripts of Rohrabacher from the panel’s probe that ultimately concluded the Trump presidential campaign did not collude with Russia.

As Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the committee, blasted Trump loyalist and Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Clovis) for withholding the transcripts, Rohrabacher first said he had no problem with their release. Later, he said he had to think about it.

Got Dana Watch fodder? Email mcoker@ocweekly.com.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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