“Billionaires and Politicians” is a drawing series I began in 2011 to take a closer look at U.S. politicians and their relationships with the billionaires who fund their campaigns. The drawings are pencil portraits of individuals, which include brief descriptions of their politics, policies and business dealings written in and around the portrait. The descriptions serve as a design element but also shed some light on what the alternate agendas of these politicians, supported through political action committees (PACs), foundations and private contributions, may be—and how they will affect the governing of the United States.
Rand Paul is the most recent addition to the series. Paul is an ophthalmologist and son of three-time presidential candidate and former Republican congressman for Texas, Ron Paul. Now the junior Republican senator for Kentucky, Rand Paul is an outspoken member of Congress. In the wake of revelations that the National Security Agency has been collecting data on millions of American citizens, Rand Paul wrote a widely circulated op-ed decrying surveillance and said he plans to assemble a class-action lawsuit against the federal government.
Back in March, Paul received a great deal of attention after a 13-hour filibuster aimed at blocking the confirmation of Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan. (Brennan was confirmed the following day.) Paul’s stand against the use of drones, either in the United States or to target a U.S. citizen abroad, briefly won him praise from both the Left and Right. Paul was later ridiculed for asserting, during a Fox Business program in April, “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”
Although Paul won his seat in the House on the Republican ticket, he calls himself a “constitutional conservative,” a Libertarian and a follower of the Tea Party. He is anti-tax, anti-gun regulations and pro-life. He won the Straw Poll at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings him to the forefront of the Republican Party as a possible candidate for the 2016 presidential election.
Top contributors to Rand Paul’s campaign in the 2011–2012 election cycle were conservative groups and PACs including Citizens United and Koch Industries, a conglomerate with petroleum refining as its biggest industry that is the second-largest private company in the United States. Koch Industries is owned by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, who together support conservative, libertarian and free-market organizations and individuals through millions of dollars in donations. They believe in lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services and less government oversight of industry. They are especially active in funding research that counters evidence linking the use of fossil fuels to climate change.
In 2010, Rand Paul signed the No Climate Tax Pledge: “I pledge to the taxpayers of my state, and to the American people, that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” He also voted yes on barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and is quoted as saying, “Our energy crisis stems from too much government intervention. The solution requires allowing businesses and ideas to compete.”
To see more drawings from this series, visit Billionaires and Politicians.