CFJ Video: Obama’s Super PAC Hypocrisy
When it comes to the regulation of political expression euphemistically called “campaign finance reform,” the Committee for Justice has consistently sided with free speech and the First Amendment. We have defended the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, opposed disclosure requirements on independent campaign expenditures by non-profit advocacy groups and private citizens, and explained how disclosure requirements facilitate the Left’s escalating attempts to silence conservative voices.
While we sharply disagree with the common view among progressives that unregulated political expression is a threat to democracy, we presume their support of increased regulation of speech is largely motivated by a good faith, if misguided, reaction to the role of money in politics.
1) Two years ago, President Obama denounced “special interest groups that are spending unlimited amounts of money on attack ads,” calling them “a threat to our democracy.” Earlier this year, when the Obama campaign realized it could not reach its goal of raising a billion dollars on its own, the President changed his tune and gave his blessing to pro-Obama super PACs – even promising that “senior campaign officials as well as some White House and Cabinet officials will attend and speak at [super PAC] fundraising events.”
2) Two years, President Obama denounced the groups buying attacks ads as “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names.” This spring, in an attempt to raise more money for attack ads, Obama’s “official” super PAC – harmless-sounding name: Priorities USA Action – teamed up with another super PAC – harmless-sounding name: American Bridge 21st Century – run by the notorious David Brock of Media Matters. Politico explained that “the [combined] entity may raise funds on behalf of both super PACs and distribute the money to one or both at its discretion.”
If Obama reads the papers, he knows about Brock’s volatile, erratic and sometimes paranoid behavior, and about his organization’s anti-Semitic rants and anti-Christian mission statement, which have offended both Jewish and Christian leaders alike. Sounds pretty shadowy to us.
3) President Obama complained that “We don’t know who’s behind these [attack] ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them.” He demanded donor disclosure by conservative groups running ads and – after reversing himself to sanction pro-Obama super PACs – Obama promised all the donations to those super PACs would be fully disclosed. However, Obama’s support for disclosure was quickly revealed to be just rhetoric. Both Priorities USA and American Bridge each funneled over $200,000 to themselves from the disclosure-free advocacy groups they are paired with, thus hiding the identity of the money’s donors.