Translation: A President’s critics should be entirely transparent, but not a President or his campaign. The New York Times reported last night that the Obama campaign has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission to force independent group American Crossroads to disclose all its donors (via Instapundit):
The lawyer for President Obama demanded on Tuesday that Crossroads GPS disclose its donors, saying in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that the group is plainly a “political committee” subject to federal reporting requirements.
In the complaint, obtained by The New York Times, Robert F. Bauer, the campaign’s chief counsel, writes that the group — founded by Karl Rove, among others — can no longer shield the identity of its donors by defining itself as a “social welfare” organization.
Bauer also sent a letter to Karl Rove and AC president Steven Law demanding disclosure immediately. But guess what was missing?
Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads, questioned Mr. Bauer’s motivation, saying that the president’s lawyers only seem to take issue with groups that benefit Republicans. He noted that Mr. Obama’s campaign has embraced Priorities USA Action, a Democratic group.
“They send cabinet members to raise money for Priorities,” Mr. Collegio said. “Issue ads are apparently evil — unless they’re run by liberal groups, in which case Obama thinks they’re O.K.”
Mr. Collegio said that unless Mr. Obama’s campaign sends a similar letter to Priorities, people “will clearly see this for the dog and pony show that it is.”
Why not just give the Obama campaign the list of donors? It’s not as if they’ll launch a campaign of intimidation against individuals who put their money into opposing this administration. Obama’s allies won’t demonize them for their political activism, right? Because that never happens.
If Obama wants transparency, he had nearly four years to reform the campaign-finance system to deliver on that promise. It’s easy. Remove contribution limits to candidates, require 48-hour disclosure of all campaign contributions, and revoke tax-exempt status for all political action organizations. That would funnel the money to the candidates themselves, who are held accountable for their messaging by the voters in the election, and eliminates almost all of the nonsensical interventions and categorizations of cash by the FEC. At the very least, Obama could have set the example first by forcing disclosure on his own side before siccing the lawyers on his critics. He’s not interested in transparency … only in intimidation.