Democratic National Committee ditches Obama’s reforms, will now accept donations from federal lobbyists and PACs
Gone are the days when under Barack Obama the Democrats pretended to end the role of big money in politics. Now that Bernie Sanders is raising more money than Hillary Clinton, her puppets at the Democratic National Committee are scared. And the prospect of running against a Republican with ample financial resources at his command – either his own money or that of an energized base (or both!) – is just as scary.
So, as Tom Hamburger and Paul Kane of the Washington Post tell us:
The Democratic National Committee has rolled back restrictions introduced by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees.
You can tell this is the work of Hillary’s people, probably including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair, because:
The only portion of the old rules now remaining in place is that lobbyists and PAC representatives will still not be able to attend events that feature Obama, Vice President Biden or their spouses, according to Mark Paustenbach, deputy communications director for the DNC.
That’s right: no pictures incriminating the Obama legacy. Other than that, get out the checkbooks.
Of course, Hillary’s campaign has already been working around the old guidelines, and funneling the supposedly banned money to the party.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC called the Hillary Victory Fund, which raised $26.9 million through the end of 2015. Sanders has set up a similar joint fundraising committee but Federal Election Commission records show it has not been active, raising a total of just $1,000.
The new Clinton Fund collects money from large donors that is then distributed between Clinton’s campaign and 33 state Democratic Party committees. In recent months, a Clinton solicitation asked supporters to give up to $366,100 to the fund. Her campaign then received $2,700 of the total for the primary period, while the rest went to the DNC and 33 state party committees. Federal Election Commission records show that through the end of the year, 56 donors had written checks of $100,000 or more to the Hillary Victory Fund. Most of the contributions came from individuals, but a handful came from corporations or labor unions.
Reformers complain that the new rules have already changed Washington ethics. They provide opportunities for “influence-buying by Washington lobbyists with six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund,” said [Fred] Wertheimer, suggesting that lobbyists could also face “political extortion” from those raising the money.
Of course they do. Just like donations to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation could be used to shake down favor-seekers to write the checks that keep the Clintons from the indignity of flying commercial and fund their private political staff.
The rationales offered for this change are hilarious, if you are a connoisseur of doubletalk. White House spokesman Eric Schultz offered this gobbledygook:
The guidelines that were previously in place at the DNC were guidelines that were instituted when Barack Obama, then Senator Obama, became the Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” Schultz said. “Those were guidelines that were modeled after his campaign for the presidency.” He added: “We’re now at the point where the fundraising for the DNC is going toward candidates who are on the ballot in 2016. Those candidates will have to make choices about the resources they are using.
Well, the two leading vote-getters, Trump and Sanders, have made their decisions and are not accepting funds like these. And voters do seem to think they may have a point.
But hey, it is panic time in Hillaryland.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky