April 3, 2017

UPDATE: Senate Democrats now have the 41 votes to filibuster Gorsuch.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee wraps up their confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, the outside spending on political ads for and against the nomination are heavy in red states with Democrats running for Senate reelection.

Hmm. How did THAT happen?

No one, NO ONE, is mentioning the disasterous Citizens United decision, that said corporations are people and therefore have unlimited rights to spend big bucks on political ads and activities. Until we overturn Citizens United, there will be dark money poluting our politics.

In the argument as to whether Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, should have received a vote and a hearing, that message has been lost.

Because which nominee, Garland or Gorsuch, would be less likely to overturn Citizens United? I think we know the answer to that.

Chuck Grassley in the video above whines on for several minutes about how unfairly he has been treated in the past year over the Garland nomination by "liberal groups." Of course, Grassley did not hold one single hearing for Merrick Garland. Grassley then says it's about "free speech" and so let's move on and vote for the highly qualified nominee Judge Gorsuch.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Everyone in this room knows that liberal and progressive groups have been pressuring the minority leader to find a reason, any reason, to the nominee. NARAL has run ads to pressure members to filibuster. We even had some groups called the "Progressive Change Campaign Committee" target a senior, an extremely well-respected Democrat over his "squishy" comments suggesting he might not filibuster. In short, they've threatened to primary any Democrat who supports the nomination. Now, that's very dark. And of course, all last year, the groups on the Left who coordinated and attacked me because I didn't hold a hearing on Garland, they followed me all over Iowa, ran commercials, put up billboards, even had a plane pulling a banner over a special event in Des Moines. Can you imagine that plane travelling around Iowa with that banner, saying "Grassley, do your job," or mobile billboards, "do your job," at every town meeting I had, or billboards on Florida avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, all over touting three Republicans that were ashamed of Grassley. Found out this were republicans maybe 20 years ago. Tv ads, radio ads, paid staff bringing people to my town meetings, op-eds, clutter my town meetings with trackers, and even brought in somebody, I found out, from Washington State to make sure that everybody knew how bad I was. Now, that's what I know about dark money, but I don't care about it, because that's the American way we do things in this representative democracy.

Dianne Feinstein is not persuaded:

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA) Weeks ago press began reporting that the Koch brothers through Concerned Veterans for Americans and other conservative donors through the Judicial Crisis Network planned to spend $10 million on a political campaign to support Judge Gorsuch's nomination. Since then the National Rifle Association has launched a $1 million ad buy. And just last Friday the Judicial Crisis Network announced another $1 million targeted to specific seats in Missouri, Montana, Indiana and Colorado. So this nomination is not the usual nomination. It comes in a different way and it has proceeded in a way of excessive spending of dark money that in the time I have been on this committee I have never seen before. So this is deeply troubling. And I don't believe it's the way a serious process of evaluating a Supreme Court nominee should be conducted.

Of course the conservative groups are outspending liberals, but that's not even the point. Dark Money should be out of politics, and it's the Republican Party that stopped the Merrick nomination, and funds the political pressure on the Right, so they can keep on benefitting from the Dark Money process.

Some Senators have taken notice:

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