Obama Campaign Plays Both Sides of Citizens United Debate, Rejects Then Welcomes Super PACs
Barrack Obama's 2012 campaign manager posted a blog post today saying the president supports an constitutional amendment to support reasonable limits on campaign spending, which has been deregulated by decades of Supreme Court decisions, including the 2010 Citizens Unitedruling.
But Jim Messina, the campaign manager, also said that until such reform happens that his 2012 campaign would use the same political money-laundering entities as the GOP has been using in their presidential primaries and in the early stages of the presidential campaign.
So, as usual, the president will do whatever is necessary to win, using a rationale that explains why Washington barely changes.
First Messina gave the good news, writing, "The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending."
And then he have the bad news, or rather, the pragmatic news. "But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands," he continued. "Over the last few months, Super PACs affiliated with Republican presidential candidates have spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads...
"With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm. Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PAC. We will do so only in the knowledge and with the expectation that all of its donations will be fully disclosed as required by law to the Federal Election Commission."
This is how it works in Washington, regardless of party. You bemoan the latest legal campaign finance vehicle (created by Supreme Court rulings or FEC), but then say you cannot unilaterally disarm. Then you put them to use for you. Obama was for presidential campaign spending limits in 2008 until he realized that he could raise more than John McCain and rejected them. At his last State of the Union he talked about supporting limits on donors lobbying Congress, not the executive branch. And where he has power, he has not acted, such as issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors disclose their political donations.
Meanwhile, liberal groups like People for the American Way are pleased that Obama has supported the idea of a constitutional amendment on creating the authority to regulate campaign spending limits. That's undoubtedly on the second-term to-do list, after raising money from every conceivable legal source between now and November.