In a speech yesterday, Bill Clinton went very negative on Sen Sanders. We’ve all been reading for weeks now that he’s been urging the campaign to do this.
Now, he complained, Mrs. Clinton is suffering through attacks from a would-be purist who, he said, is in reality a veteran politician hardly unfamiliar with the ways of politics. Citing Mr. Sanders’s attendance at a lobbyist-filled Democratic Party fund-raiser, Mr. Clinton expressed astonishment.
“I practically fell out of my chair when I saw it,” he said.
The fundraiser he is referring to was in 2007. www.msnbc.com/… According to the article, it was a lavish fundraiser and lobbyists were there. There is also now now a story about Sen Sanders even accepting a donation from Hillary’s PAC when he was first running for the Senate in 2006.
So ten years ago when he was running for Senate the first time, he accepted a donation of $10,000 (the maximum donation under the law) from her PAC when she was in the Senate. (www.opensecrets.org/...). And in 2007 he attended a fundraiser for the DSCC. Apparently, he’s also done some other fundraising for the party.
As has been pointed out many times by supporters of Sec. Clinton, it’s really hard for down-ticket progressives to raise the kind of money needed to run for statewide office or even for Congress.
This is an excellent point!
It’s all well and good for a presidential candidate with a positive progressive message like Howard Dean or Barack Obama to raise millions in small donation online nationally. But without an organization like MoveOn or DFA pushing a candidate or being picked on DKos as a being a progressive in a tough fight, progressive Democrats have to rely on the DNC, the DCCC, and the DSCC plus the leadership PACs of the party establishment. Senator Sanders, like so many other Democrats running, accepted the contributions because he had to.
This is the way the system works. And it’s one tool both parties use to maintain party unity. We are currently witnessing how this is falling apart on the GOP side as tea party extremists find outside source of cash and don’t feel beholden to their party establishment. But for Democrats, especially progressive ones, it’s really not so easy.
HOWEVER, the incident that Bill Clinton is referring to was in 2007. And the donation from Hillary’s PAC occurred in 2006, and this was before Citizen United, when McCain-Feingold restricted what individuals and corporations could donate. I am sure most of you know this and you know how McCain-Feingold worked, but for anyone who doesn’t, here it is.
In 2002 Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold introduced a bill to eliminate all soft money donations to the national parties, while doubling the contributions from individuals from $1,000 to $2,000. Today it’s $2,700 because of inflation. The bill also banned the use of corporate or union money for ads supporting candidates 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a primary. Originally this part only applied to for-profit groups, but the Wellstone amendment extended it to cover nonprofits as well. The Sierra Club and the NRA, both out of luck.
I remember how exciting it was during the summer 2003, when Dean for America would put up a baseball bat and everyone would kick in. We’d raise a million dollars in week. And then over a weekend. That fall, I posted a comment on the Dean for America blog when I maxed out at $2000 (or whatever it was then because inflation) that this was true democracy, because my $2000 was every bit as important as Bill Gates’s $2000 or George Soros. My family members weren’t going to get anything for Christmas from me that year but a better democracy. A few hours later, the New York Times called me (how they got my phone number, I have no idea) for an interview. Those were heady times, but the point was we were all equal. My $2,000 from what I’d tucked away to buy gifts for my siblings and parents and some Wall Street billionaire’s $2000 that’s he’d spend on lunch were the same. Two thousand dollars is a lot of money to me and not to a billionaire, but the billionaire had no more influence on the process than I did, until Citizens United. And actually the billionaire always had more influence, but still, I felt empowered and so did so many other people who were filling up those Dean baseball bats. (You had to have been there to understand.)
Notice how small the contributions look to Hillary’s PAC back then (www.opensecrets.org/...). This is because, from the Open Secrets page you see:
METHODOLOGY: The numbers on this page are based on contributions from individuals giving $200 or more, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.
The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
In other words, these are contributions from individuals, not corporate funds. Back in then, when you donated to a campaign, you had to list your occupation and employer and you still do. When sites like Open Secrets report how much money is going to a candidate and lists an industry or company, it’s from this information. Political Action Committees could give money to each other, but none of that was corporate money. Corporations were prohibited from donating to PACs. They could “encourage” employees to donate, but they couldn’t use corporate funds.
Citizens United changed some of that. Under CU any restrictions on political spending by individuals, nonprofits, for-profits, unions or other associations is prohibited by the first amendment. So these are all free to give as much as they want to SuperPACs. However, direct contributions to candidates, candidate PACs or parties is still illegal. Only individuals can do that.
Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit. Super PACs are required to report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or semiannual basis – the super PAC's choice – in off-years, and monthly in the year of an election.
There are two Super PACs supporting Sec. Clinton.
Priorities USA Action and Correct the Record, both super PACs allied with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, raised a combined $27.3 million in the second half of 2015, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
The majority of the money was raised by Priorities USA Action, with $25.3 milliontaken in from July through December. Correct the Record raised $2 million, with Priorities USA Action providing a $1 million donation.
Ninety-eight percent of the money raised by Priorities USA Action came from donors giving $100,000 or more; 90 percent came from donors giving at least $1 million.
But back in 2007-2008, the money that Sen Sanders took from Clinton’s PAC and from the DNC/DSCC was all from individual donors. The most her PAC or the party could give him was $5,000 per election cycle. The money that he raised for the DSCC was all from individual donors. The maximum one can donate to a political parties as an individual is still just $5,000, same as it was back then. Even under CU, corporations and unions are still barred from donating directly to political parties and PAC.
There is a handy chart on this wikipedia page with all the current restrictions. en.wikipedia.org/...
I know that Bill Clinton understands all of this as well as I do and probably much better. There is a big difference between individual contribution capped at $2,700 per candidate or $5,000 to a national party committee, and millions going into SuperPACs.
This is not an attack on Hillary Clinton. She made a shrewd political calculation that she was going to need an enormous war chest to win this thing. And by starting early and winning the so-called “money primary” her strategy included discouraging other potential candidates from challenging her. This way she could sail through the primaries unchallenged and unscathed and ready for the general election in the fall of 2016. According to Open Secrets, she has a number of PACs supporting her. Bill has raised money for them. Here is a really comprehensive article about the Clintons and their fundraising from the Washington Post last fall. Two Clintons. 41 years. $3 Billion.
Hillary understands how the system works and that is a huge part of the positive message of her campaign. She knows how the system works and she knows how to get things done.
But more and more people are feeling like the system doesn’t work for them. They don’t like the system, and more to the point, they don't trust it anymore.
Bernie Sanders has been on about too much money in politics since before McCain-Feingold. Since he was mayor of Burlington and probably even earlier than that.
I remember working on a campaign about thirty years ago for a candidate running for the state assembly. The candidate, his campaign manager and me pretty much stayed in the office all day long making phone calls to potential donors and begging for money. It sucked. The candidate hated it. I hated it. The campaign manager was the only one getting paid, so maybe she didn’t mind. But what I also saw was that campaign really had no use for volunteers or small contributions. It was all about getting donors to give the large donation.
Anyway, Bernie’s made a different choice. To bring down the power of Citizens United and to prove that one can run for president without relying on having to beg the 1% for money. This isn’t a purity test, I don’t think. It’s pretty much who this old Jewish Democratic Socialist is and always has been. Huge amounts of money in politics is corrupting. I’m am absolutely not saying that Hillary is corrupt, but I am saying that Citizens United is bad for America. We can do the incremental approach by electing a Democrat, hope a couple of of Supreme Court justices retire and appoint some new ones, and then bring another case before them and hope it goes our way. We can also wait for Congress to be redistricted and then win it back and then change the laws of corporate personhood so the First Amendment doesn’t cover them. We can try to amend the Constitution. Or we can gamble that supporting and maybe electing Bernie Sanders will empower ordinary people to feel like I did back in 2003, that their $27 can make a difference.
Here’s the thing. What takes the lion share of money in a campaign is the salaries of the media consultants and the TV advertising. But with the radical shifts in media today, TV advertising is almost just a waste of money. But advertising on social media…., that’s just pennies. Any progressive local candidate can get her message out for just $27.
Do I know which is the better way, Hillary’s I know the system and I can get it done or Bernie’s the system has been corrupted by big money because of Citizen United therefore, we must shift the paradigm? Nope. I think I know, but one way or another we have got to get the big money out of our political process as well as get more progressives running for Congress and for state and local offices. And I know the way to do that is through empowerment. So if you feel empowered by Sec. Clinton’s campaign, that’s great. And if Bernie Sander’s message empowers you, that’s great. And you don’t need a hefty war chest to run for local office. All you need is are some vacuum pennies and some social media.