Big Dem donors want public financing of elections … now

posted at 2:01 pm on February 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

What a coincidence! After Barack Obama became the first major-party candidate since Watergate to opt out of the presidential matching-fund system and its spending limits and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in two election cycles, wealthy liberal activists want Congress to impose a public-finance system for federal-government elections. In fact, it’s some of the same people that Obama’s broken promise to remain within that now-defunct system enabled:

Some big Democratic donors have a message for Congress: Don’t rely so much on the rich to fill your campaign war chests.

A group of 60 wealthy donors and activists have signed onto a new letter urging Congress to create a system of public financing that would curtail their own influence in elections, according to a copy of the letter being sent to the Hill on Friday.

Signatories to the letter include major Democratic bundler Naomi Aberly, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen, tech mogul David DesJardins, businessman Arnold Hiatt and Jonathan Soros, among others.

Aberly raised more than $500,000 for President Barack Obama in 2012, while DesJardins gave nearly $1 million to Democratic candidates and organizations in 2012. Soros, the son of billionaire liberal donor George Soros, runs the super PAC Friends of Democracy — a big money group that aims, ironically, to curb the influence of big money.

Let’s revisit the timeline of events here. Barack Obama promised to stay within an existing system of public financing in the 2008 election cycle, only to ditch that promise almost immediately after securing the nomination when he discovered just how much cash he could rake into his coffers. At the time, Obama explained that the presidential election fund system was “broken,” and pledged to make it one of his top priorities after winning the election. Two years later, without ever having lifted a finger to resolve his issues with the system except to wag it at Congress once, Obama started fundraising for the 2012 general-election campaign 22 months before it was to take place.

I’m sure that the liberal activists will cite Citizens United as the reason they need to push for public financing. However, the Citizens United decision came four years ago last month, a year before big Democratic donors started flooding Team Obama’s coffers with cash for the 2012 election. Obama and his big donors didn’t seem to mind that court decision when it benefited them.

The real reason? Republicans are much more motivated in this cycle than Democrats. They want to put the brakes on the backlash for five-plus years of Democrat policies. It’s a transparent dodge by the people who enabled Obama to jettison the one public-financing system that was voluntary to now demonize big money coming into campaigns, when they are most vulnerable to its impact. Good luck selling that idea after the Obama Precedent.

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When you have to defend your O’care vote, it takes a lot of ca$h…

hillsoftx on February 7, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Obama’s solution: “Uhhh, you have me. We don’t need elections anymore.”

ConstantineXI on February 7, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Just like when Kennedy died in Mass while there was a Republican Governor, they tried to get changes made to benefit the Dems….

Johnnyreb on February 7, 2014 at 2:06 PM

I’m confident that even Republicans aren’t dumb enough to go along with this. I’m pretty sure anyway. I think…

SacredFire on February 7, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Let me guess…..liberal groups and unions to be exempt of course?

HumpBot Salvation on February 7, 2014 at 2:08 PM

I’m shocked that the Democrats want to turn the power of the state to attacking their political opponents.

gwelf on February 7, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Citizens United was a horrible decision! Corporations are not people and have no rights!*

/libtard

*except liberal media conglomerates, hollywood, unions and other left leaning corporations and associations.

gwelf on February 7, 2014 at 2:09 PM

But…WE DO.

Unions. Stimulus package. etc.

WryTrvllr on February 7, 2014 at 2:09 PM

One thing conservatives shouldn’t fall for is public financing or McCain style campaign finance “reform.” The problem is that the liberals have a stranglehold on the MSM, and self-financed paid media (ads) is the only place where we have a chance to even the playing field. Keep it free. Keep the govt out of it.

Also, the libs make a huge deal out of “transparency” in donations, where the names of donors are to be listed on the internet for everyone to see. BAD IDEA. This benefits the activist agitating liberals for they, unlike us, are very good at publicly shaming our donors, say, to traditional marriage campaigns. It’s not a level playing field for us as far as transparency because we don’t have what it takes to shame them like they shame us. Unfair. Donations need to remain anonymous.

anotherJoe on February 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM

A group of 60 wealthy donors and activists have signed onto a new letter urging Congress to create a system of public financing that would curtail their own influence in elections, according to a copy of the letter being sent to the Hill on Friday.

Right! Sure they do! What a load of BS!

Evidently they’re tired of being milked and not getting their way.

GarandFan on February 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Just like when Kennedy died in Mass while there was a Republican Governor, they tried to get changes made to benefit the Dems….

Johnnyreb on February 7, 2014 at 2:06 PM

That works both ways. Chris Christie “fiscal conservative” that he is blew through millions of taxpayer dollars just so that Cory Booker was on a special ballot in October instead of the same one he was on in November.

Happy Nomad on February 7, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Do as I say not as I do.

Imrahil on February 7, 2014 at 2:13 PM

The real reason? Republicans are much more motivated in this cycle than Democrats. They want to put the brakes on the backlash for five-plus years of Democrat policies.

No need to do the whole public financing thing when you can just audit your opponents out of existence.

Gatsu on February 7, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Translation: We’ve got no chance to outspend the Republicans this time around as the vast majority of our voters are on the public dole and can’t contribute, so we need to curtail the other side who has actual employed voters.

USNCVN on February 7, 2014 at 2:16 PM

I still want to know who is going to jail for his illegal over seas fundraising.

jawkneemusic on February 7, 2014 at 2:16 PM

O/T Only slightly off topic. During preliminaries in Sochi they brought out the Hammer and Sickle for old time sake. Maybe jug ears has some regrets about not going ,must bring a tear to his eye.

celtic warrior on February 7, 2014 at 2:18 PM

gwelf on February 7, 2014 at 2:09 PM

The double-standard / hypocrisy from the left?

‘I’m shocked…’ – Captain Louis Renault

Chris Christie “fiscal conservative” that he is blew through millions of taxpayer dollars just so that Cory Booker was on a special ballot in October instead of the same one he was on in November.

Happy Nomad on February 7, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Very true. There’s irresponsible behavior / hypocrisy on both sides. That’s a given. There’s a line however that takes it from ‘everyone does it’ or ‘business as normal’ to being an affront.

After the Obama ‘precedent’, the line has been crossed.

With Christie touting himself as a ‘fiscal conservative’ looking out for NJ, spending $25-30M for a special Senate election to make his own re-election easier, a line has been crossed.

Athos on February 7, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Methinks the trick will be in how a non-incumbent would qualify for said public financing. Politicians seeking re-election need not apply, they will automatically get the funding. If you are attempting to unseat am incumbent, good luck raising money. We wouldn’t want anyone upsetting the apple cart being pulled by the gravy train.

airupthere on February 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM

The thing is, they don’t have to sell it – they’ll just implement it via fiat. After all, that’s what the IRS scandal is all about – ensuring conservatives and Republicans (and no, I don’t repeat myself) don’t repeat the Obama Precedent.

Steve Eggleston on February 7, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Yeah like this will happen trying to avoid backlash what a cynical move.

sorrowen on February 7, 2014 at 2:20 PM

The hipocrisy of progressives knows no bounds.

Neitherleftorright on February 7, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

From their letter:

We who sign this letter raise and give substantial sums for elections. The influence that people like us have will be curtailed by the changes we seek, but our democracy must return to the First Amendment principle that all Americans, not just the wealthy, must have their voices heard.

I am failing to see the connection here. The wealthy are not silencing anyone, they are just able to get their message out easier.

How does someone exercising their right to free speech impinge on anyone else’s right to free speech?

airupthere on February 7, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Also, the libs make a huge deal out of “transparency” in donations, where the names of donors are to be listed on the internet for everyone to see. BAD IDEA. This benefits the activist agitating liberals for they, unlike us, are very good at publicly shaming our donors, say, to traditional marriage campaigns. It’s not a level playing field for us as far as transparency because we don’t have what it takes to shame them like they shame us. Unfair. Donations need to remain anonymous.

anotherJoe on February 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Donations of $200 or more are already public record. It’s only the smaller donors who get to remain anonymous.

J.S.K. on February 7, 2014 at 2:32 PM

It sounds like these donors have less confidence in Hillary’s ability to fundraise than they did in Obama’s, or that they don’t want to spend time raising money for her.

J.S.K. on February 7, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Next, (after the election) the Dems will whine about what a terrible idea it is to not have a filibuster.

Some time later they’ll be all worried that the president might use the IRS to harass opponents.

Rather predictable, I’d say.

Pythagoras on February 7, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Coerced of coarse!
I am sure these guys are talking about a confiscatory system whereby the “Government” takes your cash and then decides who gets it and how much…?
Or they will divide it “equally” to be “fair”?

Delsa on February 7, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Let’s take their money and give it to the poor.

Adjoran on February 7, 2014 at 2:41 PM

The democrats are all about changing the rules constantly to benefit themselves. They have no shame so it is easy for them.

birdwatcher on February 7, 2014 at 2:43 PM

When I was in high school a long time ago, I beat the champ in a game in the chess club. He knocked all the pieces off the board before the instructor could see what happened. I am willing to bet that ahole is a democrat.

birdwatcher on February 7, 2014 at 2:46 PM

So you want us to make the rules that you broke in order to win two national elections more strict? That sounds ‘fair’ to me!

/GOP

Mord on February 7, 2014 at 3:03 PM

I still want to know who is going to jail for his illegal over seas fundraising.

jawkneemusic on February 7, 2014 at 2:16 PM

No one is going to jail, or even getting their wrists slapped.

There wasn’t a smidgen of corruption in Barry’s fundraising efforts.

It was as pure as the IRS.

AZCoyote on February 7, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Right! Sure they do! What a load of BS!

Evidently they’re tired of being milked and not getting their way.

GarandFan on February 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM

I highly recommend Peter Schweitzer’s “Extortion” about how the political class extorts money from the so-called donor class. Very enlightening.

For instance, just as an aside, ever wonder just what it is the congresscritters actually do and why they don’t have time to read proposed legislation? According to Schweitzer, it’s because they fundraise practically 24/7/365 and come into office already in debt to the party congressional election committees for whom they must raise a minimum of 100k if they want any influence at all.

It’s stomach-turning.

That is not to say that there isn’t the widespread use of bribery influence seeking being done on the part of the donors, but all in all those being milked are reportedly getting tired of it. It’s just getting too damned expensive.

ClownsToTheLeftOfMe on February 7, 2014 at 3:08 PM

The latest version of Fat Cat “rent seeking”

J_Crater on February 7, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Peter Schweitzer’s book aside, these people are full of crap.

ClownsToTheLeftOfMe on February 7, 2014 at 3:14 PM

No way Jose

cmsinaz on February 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Are these big donors mad because they didn’t get an ambassador slot?

docflash on February 7, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Barack Obama promised to stay within an existing system of public financing in the 2008 election cycle, only to ditch that promise almost immediately after securing the nomination
posted at 2:01 pm on February 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Just one of many, many, many things Obama has said and then later done otherwise. You can’t believe anything he says. He says what he thinks people want to hear, and then goes and does what he wants. Why haven’t people caught onto this yet.

LashRambo on February 7, 2014 at 3:27 PM

When I was in high school a long time ago, I beat the champ in a game in the chess club. He knocked all the pieces off the board before the instructor could see what happened. I am willing to bet that ahole is a democrat.

birdwatcher on February 7, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Did he act like a pigeon and poop on the board and strut around like he accomplished something?

(shamelessly stolen from another thread. I like the imagery)

307wolverine on February 7, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Can’t Obama just sign an executive order making this the law?

Clark1 on February 7, 2014 at 3:44 PM

The ironies, hubris and hypocrisy just keep on truckin’. Next, they’ll want public financing for needy insurance companies. Oh, wait…

vnvet on February 7, 2014 at 3:58 PM

It was this broken promise that signaled the disaster Obama is as president.

sadatoni on February 7, 2014 at 3:59 PM

I think the IRS should look into those signees…

right2bright on February 7, 2014 at 4:56 PM

This so-called “reform” isn’t so much about “transparency” than it is about left-wing multimillionaire activists trying to silence and delegitimize their opposition.

royal flush on February 7, 2014 at 5:07 PM

The Democrats have done a great job of making the system unfair, now it’s coming back at them. They see what is going on in the states, with union money, and they’re afraid their source of cash is going to dry up.

Although I’m not sure where the IRS thing ends up, I’m guessing they can’t pull the same thing they did, in 2012, in the open. That was basically done before anyone knew what was coming and then Lois Lerner tried to slip something in with the planted question, so it would look like an office did something wrong.

If the tea party donors are smart, they just won’t worry about tax deductions or having their name out there, but be prepared to point it out because that will prove why you have to have your donors protected. There’s not much they can do to the Koch Brothers and there are others who are media savvy enough to deal with what the Democrats will throw at them. If they see that breaking the law isn’t working for them, it will change the dynamic.

bflat879 on February 7, 2014 at 5:48 PM