Monday, January 30, 2012

ICYMI: Dems Bash, Bank Secret Cash

Excerpts from POLITICO
By Kenneth P. Vogel and Alexander Burns
January 28, 2012
“Democrats have seized on Republicans as the party of unlimited secret money.
“The only problem: so are Democrats.
“In recent days, Obama released an ad blasting ‘secretive oil billionaires’ for attacks on him, Nancy Pelosi unveiled a campaign slogan, calling for ‘a new politics free of special interest influence’…
“Maybe that would have sounded better in 2008, when Obama put the kibosh on the Democratic outside money infrastructure—or even in 2010, when Obama led a chorus of Democrats assailing Republicans’ outside spending.
“But this year, Democrats are playing the same game. Obama’s team has blessed a network of super PACs trying to raise the same seven-figure checks…
“In fact, top Democrats are so ardent about the need to raise unlimited—and sometimes secret—cash this year that some operatives aren’t pleased about the recent attacks, grumbling that it makes it a whole lot tougher to get wealthy liberals to fork over mega-checks when the politicians who’d benefit are ripping Republicans for taking the same types of contributions.
“Then there are doubts about the effectiveness of such attacks, considering how they went the last time Democrats tried them in 2010. Obama and his allies spent the final weeks before Election Day complaining bitterly about GOP-allied spending groups, hinting they could be awash in illegal foreign money, only to watch Republicans notch historic gains in the House.
“And, beyond that, the Obama campaign’s juggernaut fundraising makes the president an especially poor messenger for the attacks, reasoned one Democratic operative familiar with the party’s outside money operation.
“‘When you’ve been talking about raising $1 billion, you really shouldn’t be talking about money in the political process,’ the operative said. Democrats ‘should talk about issues that people really care about like whether their taxes are going to get raised, whether their kid is going to get sent to Afghanistan, or whether they’re going to get blown up on a plane,’ the operative said, adding ‘campaign finance isn’t a particularly resonate issue other than for those who are talking about it.’
“But party leaders suggest the secret money attacks forecast in Obama’s ad—his first of the cycle—are part of a broader messaging strategy that seeks to cast Republicans as secretive and unethical pawns of big business who couldn’t care less about the plight of regular Americans...
“The special interest money theme could play a recurring role in the president’s reelection campaign, Obama allies suggest…
“At a POLITICO Playbook breakfast last week, Pelosi predicted such reforms could staunch the flow of outside money into elections, but she also acknowledged that ‘most people don’t know that (the super PACs are) there and how they operate. They just see the result of it.’ Yet, the Democratic leader—who has herself raised money for super PACs—said that, as she traveled lately ‘what I get the biggest response to is…when you talk about disclose and reform, people are very ready for it.’
“In fact, Democrats believe that Republicans set the stage for a campaign debate over outside group spending because their presidential candidates repeatedly attacked one another during debates and on the trail over ads aired by rival super PACs…
“Obama and his Democratic allies during the 2010 midterm elections assailed GOP-allied super PACs and other outside spending groups like Americans for Prosperity as corrupting the democratic process. But after the groups helped power Republicans to landslide victories, the White House backed away from its opposition and tacitly blessed a network of super PACs and nondisclosing 501(c)4 nonprofits run by close allies to solicit big checks from wealthy liberals to try to level the playing field. Completing the reversal: the Obama campaign recently cleared its bundlers to raise money for pro-Obama outside groups…
“The attacks elevate the arguments being leveled by the GOP-allied outside groups, asserted Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, whose group noted with pride that Obama’s ad was ‘in direct response’ to its Solyndra ads.
“And Phillips pointed out that Democrats have long had outside groups and labor unions working on their behalf — even before Obama began targeting Americans for Prosperity during the 2010 campaign.
“‘It was hypocritical two or three years ago to make that assault,’ Phillips argued. ‘It’s just times two now with all the new groups they’ve formed on their side.’”
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