At a meeting with financial supporters last week, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton vowed that any Supreme Court nominations she made who be for judges committed to overturning the 2010 Citizens United ruling. Despite that pledge, Mrs. Clinton continues personally to raise money for a super PAC supporting her campaign, a move that is bringing criticism from liberals, who see the move as further proof that the former secretary of state isn’t really one of them.
Ironically, the Citizens United case, which opened the political funding floodgates, was created by a Hillary 2008 campaign objection to commercials for an anti-Hillary movie that was to air on Direct TV in 2008.
According to CNN:
[L]liberal activists determined to use the Democratic primary to pressure Clinton to embrace a progressive agenda say the idea of the former secretary of state personally wooing the wealthiest class of donors runs counter to the populist rhetoric she’s employed this year.
At least Clinton is trying to make a show of being a progressive extremist in calling for more taxes on the wealthy. Despite the attempts, liberals also see her as a tool for the Wall Street banks, and her fundraising for super PACs a symptom of her association with big business.
But the recent revelation that Clinton will personally fundraise for a super PAC supporting her campaign — a decision to play by the rules of a system she has condemned as “dysfunctional” — has invited fresh eye-rolling. It has also exposed a core tension for Democrats, who have increasingly embraced super PACs at the same time that they decry the explosion of soft money in national politics.
During the 2008 campaign, John McCain offered to stay within the federal matching funds spending limits if Obama agreed to do the same, but the future president demurred. And in 2012, super Pac dollars were raised by the candidates of both parties.
“With some Republican candidates reportedly setting up and outsourcing their entire campaign to super PACs and the Koch Brothers pledging $1 billion alone for the 2016 campaign, Democrats have to have the resources to fight back,” a Clinton campaign official said in an email, who spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive topic of fundraising. “There is too much at stake for our future for Democrats to unilaterally disarm.”
Socialist Bernie Sanders, whose chance of winning the Democratic Party nomination is only slightly better than mine (and I’m not running), told CNN that Clinton’s decision to court super PAC donors was “unfortunate.”
“We’re living in a world since Citizens United where multi-millionaires and billionaires are playing a horrendous role in the political system,” Sanders said, referring to the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that paved the way for super PACs to direct virtually uncapped amounts of money to aid political candidates. “That’s why I believe that we need to overturn Citizens United and move to public funding of elections.”
If Hillary Clinton spoke to the press, she might say she was between a rock and a hard place. Of course she is being hypocritical by speaking out against the super PAC campaign dollars and Citizen United while participating in their fundraising. On the other hand, none of the GOP candidates have rejected the super PAC cash so a Clinton rejection of that money would put her at a competitive advantage. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton should take the money and stop talking about overturning a Supreme Court decision that she continues to use for her advantage.
Cross-posted at The Lid