10.24.10

Obama's Phony Campaign-Cash Attack

The out-of-control big-money donors this fall aren’t the U.S. Chamber of Commerce types, as the White House would have you believe. Mark McKinnon on the real culprits—union gifts to Democrats.

Team Obama’s message in the closing weeks of the campaign was completely eclipsed Friday by a union official who openly boasted in a story reported by The Wall Street Journal: “We don’t like to brag,” but “we’re the big dog” when it comes to campaign funding.  

Big as in $87.5 million. Big as in the biggest spender of any outside group—all meant to protect the interests of unions, the new “ privileged class.” But wait a minute: Team O led us to believe that honor went to the vilified U.S. Chamber of Commerce and all of its alleged contributions from “ foreign money” sponsors.

A record $87.5 million has been spent by one union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to elect Democrats. Paid not by voluntary contribution from its members, but by forced union dues from workers—who are paid by taxpayers.

I’m opposed to unlimited spending by any outside interest group or individual, and I believe full disclosure should be required on all campaign spending. Thanks largely to the Supreme Court ruling on the Citizens United case, however, the law encourages this political money pornography. But it’s laughable to hear President Obama and the Democrats suggest that this is somehow a Republican phenomenon.  

Six of the top 10 overall political action committee spenders are union groups, with the vast amount of contributions supporting Democratic candidates. The spending by labor unions, with AFSCME as Exhibit A, makes a mockery of President Obama’s bogus boogeyman scare tactics about supposed shadowy foreign interests—a charge to which CBS anchor Bob Schieffer asked David Axelrod, “ Is that all you got?”

Contrary to what Obama and the Democrats would have us believe, the Tea Party is largely fueled by small-dollar donations from American citizens in amounts of $200 or less.

Six of the top 10 overall political action committee spenders are union groups, with the vast amount of contributions supporting Democratic candidates.

Beyond being untrue and unproven, the Obama money charges against Republicans are completely hypocritical. The guy who promised to “change Washington” completely reversed his promise during the campaign to abide by the limits of public financing. The Obama campaign spent almost $1 billion—and $400 million was spent by outside groups on his behalf, most of which did not disclose their donors. Now we discover unions are the largest outside spenders in this election, not the Chamber or groups tied to Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.

When Schieffer asked this weekend how the public interest was served by “these so-called outside independent groups,” Rove pointed out: “Bob, I don’t remember you having a program in 2000, when the NAACP spent ten million dollars from one single donor, running ads anonymous(ly)...attacking George W. Bush.

“...suddenly everybody is gone spun up about it this year when Republicans have started to follow what the Democrats have been doing...I  don’t remember (Obama) ever saying that all these liberal groups were threats to democracy when they spent money exactly the same way we are.”

The Hill newspaper reports that the Democratic Party has raised more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrats this year have received more money from PACs ($6.5 million) than Republicans ($5.6 million). And in the past two election cycles, liberal interest groups outspent Republicans by a considerable sum.

When you look at the money spent by labor unions for Democrats, it comes as no surprise the Democrats crafted a campaign-finance “disclosure” bill with the thresholds adjusted to exempt unions.

Team Obama may keep trying to scare voters with a bankrupt and hypocritical message about big money, but that dog won’t hunt.  Because now we know: It is the union-funded Democrats who are “the big dog” when it comes to special-interest money.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono.