Two years ago, a new political organization named “With Honor” burst onto the national scene, giving out large amounts of cash to a select group of military veterans running for Congress.
Primarily funded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, a Democrat donor who gave the political action committee more than $10 million in August 2018, With Honor bills itself as a movement dedicated to electing “principled veteran leadership.” However, in practice, With Honor’s backing seems to extend to leaders of both parties regardless of veteran status.
According to campaign finance reports, the organization has doled out cash to both Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, neither of which are military veterans.
But who is With Honor? And why are they investing so heavily in congressional races?
“With Honor Action is a cross-partisan movement dedicated to promoting and advancing principled veteran leadership in elected public service. For too long, gridlock and partisan bickering have plagued Congress, putting a halt on progress at the expense of the American people. Now a new generation of veterans has stepped up to serve again, committed to putting their country before party politics, and we are proud to support them in their efforts to change Congress.”
The group also requires candidates to take a pledge to “put principles before politics.” A review of the fine print reveals that the pledge requires bipartisan actions on the part of the lawmaker.
“I will join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on at least one piece of substantial legislation each year, and co-sponsor additional pieces.”
Thus far, legislation supported by PAC-supported congressmen has largely related to minor veteran-oriented issues, such as protecting Gold Star families from unforeseen tax liability and cleaning up monuments.
It could be that the organization contributes to non-veteran House leadership of both parties as a means to grease the skids to pass bipartisan legislation. This year, the group has already spent over $200,000 in support of San Angelo’s August Pfluger, a Republican candidate in the 11th Congressional District.
It could be that this support reflects Pfluger as a priority of Republican House leadership.
Meanwhile, the announced strategy of the group to achieve greater civility in Congress does not seem to be bearing fruit.
Despite taking the pledge to “put principles before politics,” the congressmen endorsed by the group voted on party lines on the failed impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Democrats supported by With Honor voted to impeach the president while Republicans endorsed by the group voted against doing so. However, a review of With Honor’s donors and board members reveal them to be a collection of individuals who overwhelmingly favored the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
As mentioned previously, Bezos is the group’s primary financier. He and his family members donated more than $14.5 million to the PAC in the 2018 election cycle. It spent a total of $10.3 million.
The largest non-Bezos donor is ex-Republican donor Leslie Wexner and his wife Abigail, a Democrat. Together, they’ve given more than $500,000 to With Honor.
Wexner was the wealthiest Republican in the state of Ohio and served as a donor to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. He renounced his affiliation with the Republican Party two years ago, saying he “won’t support the nonsense in the Republican Party” headed by President Donald Trump.
The PAC’s next largest donor is Democrat presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire, who supports amnesty for illegal aliens and gun control, wrote a $250,000 check to the organization. Bloomberg is now running a self-financed campaign for the Democrat Party nomination for president in 2020.
The With Honor Fund endorsed six Texans in 2018, four Republicans and two Democrats.
- Republican Dan Crenshaw
- Republican Van Taylor
- Republican Ken Sheets
- Republican Jake Ellzey
- Democrat M.J. Hegar
- Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones
Notably, all of the Republican endorsements were for Republican-held seats. However, the endorsement of Democrats M.J. Hegar—who is now running against Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn—and Gina Ortiz Jones were both for seats currently held by Republicans.
The group did not endorse any Republican campaigning against an incumbent Democrat in Texas, despite veterans running in those races.