House Spending Bill Vote Includes Million Dollar Contributions for Party Committees
The U.S. House of Representatives today threw all but the wealthiest voters under the bus. Less than two months after an election where Members promised voters the world, the House betrayed voters by passing an omnibus spending bill littered with perks for special interests and gutting contribution limits. Even more disappointing, President Obama actively lobbied for a bill that contains provisions diametrically opposed to the values he espoused when running for President.
The backroom deal in the Omnibus Appropriations bill eviscerates important campaign finance limits and puts Members of Congress in the business of directly soliciting a wealthy donor for more than $1.5 million (more than $3 million for a couple) per election cycle. It is both the solicitation by the Member and the corresponding contributions that are corrupting and/or create the appearance of corruption. One need look no further than the special-interest perks in this spending bill to know that money buys favors in Washington.
Those who claim that these provisions increase transparency are pulling the equivalent of a ball fake. They neglect to mention that the dark money will continue to flow. These provisions simply allow Members of Congress to raise even more money from the wealthiest of Americans while supposedly “independent” dark money groups will continue to run hundreds of millions of dollars of attack ads.
The bill will also further empower the K Street crowd. Those wealthy Americans who wish to purchase access and influence with Washington decision-makers will turn to the K Street experts to help them navigate the system and ensure that both the “giver” and the “guide” get the political credit that is so valuable in Washington.
Experience has shown that money – especially party money – is fungible. While the contributions solicited for the new building, recount and convention accounts will be disclosed, where this money ends up can be very difficult to track given weak spending disclosure rules.
That President Obama intends to sign this monster of a bill is a kick in the gut to those who believed him when he repeatedly expressed concern about the role of big money in politics. The Administration statement that conveys its objection to the campaign finance language is little comfort. After all, this is a President who once castigated the Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision in his State of the Union address. If President Obama does indeed sign the Cromnibus, this gutting of meaningful contribution limits will be on his watch – with his signature. The man who came to the White House promising “hope and change” should not be rubber-stamping a bill legalizing graft and corruption.