A Man Of Principle

- January 18, 2013

Remember When Obama Was All About Campaign Finance Reform?


During The 2012 Campaign, Obama Promised To Tackle Campaign Finance Reform. OBAMA: "But, look, we're in an environment right now where money is as prominent as it's ever been in our politics. And that's never been my idea of politics. That's never what has motivated me. I think the American people consider this a big problem and I hopefully will be able to work with them to find some solutions in a second term." (Michael Scherer, "What He Knows Now: Obama On Popularity, Partisanship And Getting Things Done In Washington," TIME, 8/30/12)

  • In A Second Term, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser David Axelrod Said Obama Would "Bring Some Common Sense Back" To The Campaign Finance System. "Axelrod said a second term Obama administration would bring about reforms in the campaign finance system. 'I hope that when we win this election, one thing we can do is bring some common sense back to our system,' Axelrod said." (Byron Tau, "Axelrod Says Super PACs Hurting Democracy, Vows Reform," Politico, 6/14/12)


Obama's Campaign Is Becoming A 501(c)4 Group That Can Accept Unlimited Contributions

Obama Is Turning His Campaign Into A Permanent Advocacy Group Called "Organizing For Action." "Leaders of President Obama's reelection campaign announced Friday that they are launching a permanent advocacy organization called Organizing for Action that will enlist his supporters to fight for his policy agenda." (Matea Gold, "Obama Aides Launch Organizing For Action To Back," Los Angeles Times, 1/18/13)

  • Organizing For Action Will Be A Tax Exempt Group That Can Accept Unlimited Contributions. "As a 501(c)4 group, the new Obama organization will be separate and different from Priorities USA, the Obama-backing super PAC that could accept unlimited financial contributions in support of his re-election campaign. Despite high-profile backing from top Obama aides and allies including former President Bill Clinton, Priorities foundered compared to groups backing GOP rival Mitt Romney. Priorities officials did not respond to request for comments about the group's future. But unlike a super PAC, the new nonprofit will be able to accept anonymous contributions. The nonprofit could voluntarily choose to release the names of donors - but such disclosure is not mandated by the Internal Revenue Service or the Federal Election Commission. There are no contribution caps on what donors are allowed to give to 501(c)4 groups." (Glenn Thrush, Reid J. Epstein and Byron Tau, "Obama Campaign To Relaunch As Tax-Exempt Group," Politico, 1/17/13)

"Opponents Of Campaign Finance Reform Say It's Another Reversal By Obama - Who Has Said Repeatedly That He Is Against The Amount Of Money Sloshing Around In Politics." (Glenn Thrush, Reid J. Epstein and Byron Tau, "Obama Campaign To Relaunch As Tax-Exempt Group," Politico, 1/17/13)

  • Former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith: Some Of Obama's Campaign Rhetoric On Campaign Finance Was Just "B.S." "'It's just further evidence that everybody recognizes that there are valid reasons for people to want to remain anonymous,' said Bradley Smith, a former Federal Election Commission chairman and head of the Center for Competitive Politics. Smith - a vocal opponent of increased regulation of money in politics - called some of Obama's rhetoric on campaign finance 'B.S.'" (Glenn Thrush, Reid J. Epstein and Byron Tau, "Obama Campaign To Relaunch As Tax-Exempt Group," Politico, 1/17/13)

Obama Lambasts Corporate Donations, Unless They Are Donating To His Inauguration

Obama Is Accepting Contributions From Businesses And Federal Contractors For His Inauguration. "President Barack Obama, who has tried to limit the influence of money in politics, is relying on federal contractors and businesses that profited from his campaign to pay as much as $1 million for his inauguration party later this month." (Andy Sullivan, "Obama Relying On Bigger Checks For Smaller Inauguration Party," Reuters, 1/10/13)

  • ExxonMobil Has Announced Its Plans To Contribute $250,000 To Obama's Inauguration. "ExxonMobil plans to contribute $250,000 to President Obama's inauguration. The donation is an important contribution for Obama, who is accepting corporate money for his inauguration for the first time. At least eight corporations have contributed money to the 2013 inauguration, according to donors' names released by Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee." (Kevin Bogardus, "ExxonMobil Will Give $250K To Inauguration," The Hill, 1/18/12)

"The Fundraising Strategy Marks A Shift From Obama's 2009 Inauguration, When He Banned Corporate Money And Limited Individual Contributions To Showcase His Commitment To Transparency And Clean Government." (Andy Sullivan, "Obama Relying On Bigger Checks For Smaller Inauguration Party," Reuters, 1/10/13)

  • "The Inaugural Committee Is Asking Businesses To Contribute Up To $1 Million - More Than The $250,000 Limit That Republican President George W. Bush, Obama's Predecessor, Put In Place For His Second Inauguration In 2005." (Andy Sullivan, "Obama Relying On Bigger Checks For Smaller Inauguration Party," Reuters, 1/10/13)

"Government Watchdogs Say The Fundraising Effort Highlights The Gulf Between Obama's Rhetoric And His Actions In Trying To Limit The Influence Of Big Donors In Washington." (Andy Sullivan, "Obama Relying On Bigger Checks For Smaller Inauguration Party," Reuters, 1/10/13)

  • "'We Have Gotten Used To Being Disappointed By Him When It Comes To Money In Politics,' Said Campaign Legal Center Policy Director Meredith McGehee." (Andy Sullivan, "Obama Relying On Bigger Checks For Smaller Inauguration Party," Reuters,1/10/13)
  • Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer: Obama's Decision To Accept Corporate Cash "Fits Into A Pattern Of Not Treating His Campaign-Finance Issue With Concern." "'It fits into a pattern of not treating this campaign-finance issue with concern when in fact it is of great concern to the integrity of the political process and our democratic system,' said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21." (Kevin Bogardus, "ExxonMobil Will Give $250K To Inauguration," The Hill, 1/18/12)

Obama Is Abandoning Transparency For His Inauguration Donors

"Obama Is Releasing Less Information About His Inaugural Donors Than He Did In 2009." (Kevin Bogardus, "ExxonMobil Will Give $250K To Inauguration," The Hill, 1/18/12)

  • "The Sunlight Foundation Noted The Inaugural Committee Only Posted The Donors' Names Online This Time - Not The Contribution Amount Or The Contributor's Occupation And City, Like In 2009." (Kevin Bogardus, "ExxonMobil Will Give $250K To Inauguration,"The Hill, 1/18/12)
  • "'They Are Telling Us That They Cannot Meet The Standard Of Transparency They Set Up Four Years Ago. They're Backsliding,' Said Kathy Kiely, Sunlight's Managing Editor." (Kevin Bogardus, "ExxonMobil Will Give $250K To Inauguration," The Hill, 1/18/12)


In 2011, Obama Reversed His Position On Super PACs

PROMISE: In February 2011, Obama Reversed His Position On Super PACs, "Encouraging Donors To Send Their Unlimited Contributions" To Pro-Obama Priorities USA PAC. "President Obama's re-election campaign made an about-face late Monday in its opposition to super PACs, encouraging donors to send their unlimited contributions to one such group founded by a former administration spokesman. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina emailed supporters to formally endorse contributions to Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC founded by Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary." (Michael O'Brien, "Obama Campaign Reverses Stance, Urging Donations To Super PAC, NBC News' First Read, 2/7/12)

  • Obama's Decision Marks A "Stark Reversal" From A President Who Has Been Among The "Most Vocal Critics" Of Super PACs To One Who Is Embracing Them. "The decision represents a stark reversal for Obama, who has been among the most vocal critics of these outside political spending groups since the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling that paved the way for the rise of super PACs." (Michael O'Brien, "Obama Campaign Reverses Stance, Urging Donations To Super PAC, NBC News' First Read, 2/7/12)

BROKEN: In 2010, Obama Called Outside Spending Groups "A Threat To Our Democracy." OBAMA: "Now, that's not just a threat to Democrats -- that's a threat to our democracy. Every American business and industry deserves a seat at the table, but they don't get to a chance to buy every chair. We've seen what happens when they do. They put the entire economy at risk and every American might end up suffering." (President Barack Obama, Remarks At Campaign Event, Philadelphia, PA, 10/10/10)

  • In Obama's 2010 State Of The Union, Obama Said The Citizens United Ruling Would "Open The Floodgates For Special Interests - Including Foreign Corporations - To Spend Without Limit In Our Elections." OBAMA: "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems." (President Barack Obama, State Of The Union Address, Washington, D.C., 1/27/10)
  • In 2010, Obama Called Super PACs "Shadowy Groups." OBAMA: "As the political season heats up, Americans are already being inundated with the usual phone calls, mailings, and TV ads from campaigns all across the country. But this summer, they're also seeing a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don't know who's behind these ads and we don't know who's paying for them. The reason this is happening is because of a decision by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case - a decision that now allows big corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections." (President Barack Obama, Remarks For Weekly Address, 8/21/10)

In His First Presidential Bid, Obama Abandoned Public Financing When He Realized He Could Raise More Money Without It

PROMISE: In Response To A 2007 Questionnaire, Obama Said He Would Accept Public Funding In General Election. "QUESTION: 'If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?' OBAMA: 'Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests.'" (Senator Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network, 11/27/07)

  • Obama Even Referred To His Plan As A "Fundraising Pledge" For His Opponents To Accept. OBAMA: "In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge." (Senator Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network, 11/27/07)
  • In April 2008, Obama Claimed He "Would Be Very Interested In Pursuing Public Financing…" " FOX NEWS' CHRIS WALLACE: 'If you can get that agreement, you would go for a publicly financed campaign?' OBAMA: 'What I don't intend to do is to allow huge amounts of money to be spent by the RNC, the Republican National Committee, or by organizations like the Swift Boat organization, and just stand there without -- (cross talk).' WALLACE: 'But if you get that agreement?' OBAMA: 'I would be very interested in pursuing public financing, because I think not every candidate is going to be able to do what I've done in this campaign, and I think it's important to think about future campaigns.'" (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)

BROKEN: In April Of 2008 Obama "Declared His Independence" And Broke His Promise To Participate In Public Financing. "Obama said, 'I'm asking you to try to do something that's never been done before. Declare our independence from a broken system, and run the type of campaign that reflects the grassroots values that have already changed our politics and brought us this far.' Declaring independence from a 'broken system' by breaking a promise." (Ed O'Keefe, "Obama To Break Promise, Opt Out Of Public Financing For General Election," ABC News, 6/19/08)

  • Obama Was The First Major Party Nominee To Forgo Public Financing. "Obama will become the first major-party presidential nominee to reject the public funds, passing up nearly $85 million in taxpayer money and instead looking to the 1.5 million donors who contributed to his primary campaign." (Shailagh Murray and Perry Bacon Jr., "Obama To Reject Public Funds For Election," The Washington Post6/20/08)

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