For the three decades plus that I have been in politics, I have been a passionate advocate of the clean money agenda, especially public financing of campaigns and the overturning of one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United. Multiple times over the years, I have been a consultant on money in politics campaigns, and have always considered it a very high priority. As someone who has done high level fundraising for many different Presidential, Senate, and House campaigns, and has been involved in a great many policy battles where I was fighting the power of big money special interests, I know well the large and pernicious power of big money in politics. No cause should do more to unite the progressive movement than doing something serious about it. But there’s a new money in politics issue that is splitting progressives right down the middle.
The new organization that people close to President Obama set up (OFA, Organizing for Action) is causing some consternation among some people in the movement to reform money in politics. Bob Edgar, my old friend and comrade in arms on this issue, and the president of Common Cause, said, “If President Obama is serious about his often-expressed desire to rein in big money in politics, he should shut down Organizing for Action and disavow any plan to schedule regular meetings with its major donors. With its reported promise of quarterly presidential meetings for donors and ‘bundlers’ who raise $500,000, Organizing For Action apparently intends to extend and deepen the pay-to-play Washington culture that Barack Obama came to prominence pledging to end.”
As much as I agree with Bob on his ideals and long-term goals, I think he is profoundly wrong this time around.