Just in case you weren’t convinced that the White House’s “anonymous foreign donors” scare-mongering during the midterm campaigns last year was a complete fabrication, the Los Angeles Times provides all the evidence you need:
Democrats putting together new independent political organizations for the 2012 campaign are embracing a model that will allow them to conceal their donors — the very tactic for which they criticized Republicans in 2010.
Two former Obama White House officials, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, are behind the planning of one of these groups, which will lend support to the president’s reelection bid. “As a spokesman for Obama, Burton repeatedly hammered Republican groups for their lack of transparency in 2010,” the Times reports.
“This is stunning in its hypocrisy,” said Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for American Crossroads.
But it’s not just hypocrisy. Democrats had no problem taking money from undisclosed donors in the past, and even did so during the midterms—in between criticizing Republicans for the same thing, of course. And after all of the unfounded attacks on the Chamber of Commerce, the dark insinuations about the GOP’s reliance upon “anonymous foreign donors,” and the phony posturing about transparency, the Democrats’ decision to ramp up their fundraising from undisclosed donors further illustrates the political cynicism of the White House’s strategy last fall.
Listen to Obama adviser David Axelrod on State of the Nation last October:
They say, trust us, trust us, everything is cool, everything is kosher, don’t worry about it, but we’re not going to disclose. Let me tell you something: people don’t disclose, there’s a reason. Ask these folks why they feel it’s necessary to keep these funds secret. We tried to make them public, even the Democratic funds, Democratic-leaning funds. We don’t think anybody should keep these things secret.
The White House should be kicking itself for its strategy. If Obama ends up taking a significant amount of money from these groups, assertions like Axelrod’s will undoubtedly come back to haunt him.
Here is the deal. He’s an adult. Everyone else is children because we think our taxes are too high. So the new rule is any large corporation that proportionately financed Obama in the last election and this guy… is going to be taxed. Everyone else is free to watch this guy make a new sign.
Unions can now literally buy elections now? Soros is happy. he won this. We bought his rhetoric that large companies are on the right. Large corporations go right to the left. this is a red herring. you threw out your rights on a technicality and the left is laughing their asses off at you and your orthodoxy. When you think only in terms of what binary political poles you are given it is very easy to be deceived. People that take advantage of you count on you to be so dogmatic. Corporations are not people. this isn’t baseball. Conservatism isn’t a sports team… it is merely a mind set that sometimes is just and sometimes is not good for the people.
- Reversing 63 years of restrictions on free speech, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could, indeed, directly campaign for the candidates of their choice, causing Obama – clearly not one of the candidates of most of their choices – to term the ruling “devastating.”
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that union membership in the U.S. had plummeted a staggering 10 percent in 2009, bringing it to an all-time low of just 7.2 percent of all private sector workers – and further debasing the value of Obama’s cozy relationship with union bosses.
At issue is whether corporations, unions and issue advocacy organizations should be allowed to use unlimited amounts of money from their treasuries on independent political expenditures in support or opposition of a candidate.
Today’s oral arguments focused, in part, on the tension between the First Amendment freedom of speech rights and congressional efforts to limit the influence of special interests that have millions of dollars to spend on speech. While corporations and unions are prohibited from making independent political expenditures, individuals may freely do so.
“Robust debate about candidates for elective office is the most fundamental value protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech,” said Theodore Olson, the lawyer for the conservative nonprofit corporation Citizens United and former President George W. Bush’s solicitor general, during oral arguments. “Yet that is precisely the dialogue that the government has prohibited if practiced by unions or corporations, any union or any corporation.”
The first big impact of the Supreme Court’s decision lifting restrictions on certain corporation campaign spending may be at the American Civil Liberties Union, which, after years of opposing restrictions on free speech grounds, is considering whether to reverse course and endorse government limits on money in politics.
The ACLU has long opposed government limits to how much a donor can give to a political campaign or spend airing advertisements on an issue during an election. On this point, the ACLU has been in agreement with conservative organizations that believe money contributions are a form of political speech and deserving of First Amendment protection. It has been at odds with many liberal organizations, which have argued money in politics must be strictly limited so that rich organizations and individuals don’t wield outsize influence.
But Thursday’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, which would enable corporations to spend freely on political causes, is forcing the ACLU to address what one internal memo describes as a “Skokie moment,” a reference to the controversy in which the organization defended the right of American Nazis to march in the Chicago suburb of Skokie. The moment is often seen as one of the acid tests of the ACLU’s willingness to stick to its First Amendment principles.
The First Amendment, opening article of the Bill of Rights, says that Congress “shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . .” It was cited in Thursday’s Supreme Court’s decision, which was is in accord with the ACLU’s traditional position that the government should keep out of regulating money in politics. The organization had filed a brief in support of the winning side in the case. But concern that the Supreme Court ruling will fundamentally alter American democracy has ignited within the union an intense debate that was aired on Saturday at the regular quarterly meeting of the 83-member board of directors and in interviews with this reporter. The board on Sunday sent the issue to its special committee on campaign finance to mull the impact of Citizens United.
“The ACLU’s version of democracy is from the ground-up,” one civil rights lawyer, David Gans, on Saturday told the ACLU’s board, which was assembled downtown at One New York Plaza. “Now Exxon Mobil can spend 2% of its money and blow that all up.”
Mr. Gans was one of several attorneys invited to the board meeting to debate whether the ACLU should change its position on money in politics. Another, Burt Neuborne, also urged the ACLU to change its policy, saying that any effort to salvage campaign finance regulation in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling would face trouble “if the ACLU says it’s against the First Amendment.”