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Posted at 5:02 PM ET, 11/23/2010

David Brock defends using undisclosed donors

By Greg Sargent

Today's New York Times reports that part of the new effort David Brock is setting up to counter the right's massive spending in advance of 2012 will depend on...undisclosed donors.

Media Matters, of course, hammered away relentlessly at Republicans and the right wing for their reliance on undisclosed cash, and Dems and the White House did the same. So what's the justification for Brock doing this?

In a statement sent my way, Brock defended his decision:

Many Americans, including me, were deeply troubled by the new rules of the road given to us by a Republican-controlled Supreme Court in Citizens United. Subsequently, the wave of rightwing money created a right-wing wave. There is no right-wing wave. There was a wave of Republican money that was not in any way matched in the cycle by Democrats. Only by making our elections a fair fight will the people really be heard.

We do not make the rules. We must make 2012 a more equal contest than 2010. We cannot surrender everything -- health care, the environment -- because of the Citizens United decision.

The bottom line is that undisclosed donations are bad for democracy, period -- whether coming from right or left. Brock's decision to try to beat the right at its own game is a sign that the big money power lefties have essentially given up, for the time being, on fixing the collapse of the campaign finance regime.

Rather than try to right the imbalance by making the case against secret cash rhetorically or fiinding a legislative fix for the problem, they have calculated that the only way to match the unprecedented spending infrastructure on the right is to go toe to toe with it.

By Greg Sargent  | November 23, 2010; 5:02 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections  
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Comments

Afternoon, moonbats;

I just learned that WaPo has hired Jennifer Rubin to blog here at the Post.

VERY GOOD news.

A real conservative, not an ersatz facsimile like the late unlamented buffoon Weigel,(who I hear is out of a job yet again, what with George Soros pulling the money plug on the WIndy).
Ms. Rubin always wrote good stuff at Pajamas Media and at Contentions.

Anyway, thought I'd drop by the Sweat-Lodge and mention that I'll be checking in on Ms. Rubin's new joint from time to time.

You livestock enjoy your kibble...it's been a little wanting lately has it not?

Posted by: Bilgeman1 | November 23, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Shorter MMFA - we are full of crapola and were lying about all our cares of "undisclosed" money.

Posted by: accentmark | November 23, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"The bottom line is that undisclosed donations are bad for democracy, period -- whether coming from right or left. Brock's decision to try to beat the right at its own game is a sign that the big money power lefties have essentially given up, for the time being, on fixing the collapse of the campaign finance regime."

This is a very dangerous game because the amount of money expended will probably rise astronomically very rapidly. As it does, the merger of Big Money and Big Government will accelerate. I should think everyone, especially Tea Party types, would find this appalling.

Hey, Bilgey! How's life?

Posted by: wbgonne | November 23, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been so deceptive on this issue it really is starting to make little sense talking about it - because of the misinformation


Obama and the democrats had MORE money than the Republicans this year.


AND Obama has been abusing the donor lists of the other side - the Kock brothers were cited by White House staff - when they should not have known those names.


The tendency of the left to retaliate is why we need to hide some names.


It is because of the conduct of the democrats

Posted by: RedNationRising | November 23, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, Greg. Media Matters (like Ackerman) no longer credible?

Money alone doesn't win elections - ask Meg Whitman.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 23, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

accentmark & Bilgeman1:
I guess you two clowns want to ignore Glenn Beck's irrational fascination with the Tides Foundation. So, no, I don't blame Brock.

Posted by: Calvin_Jones_and_the_13th_Apostle | November 23, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

And as an aside. Greg: Is it my imagination or have you become even more prolific recently? Anyhow, keep up the great work. You are becoming, or already are, a go-to political journalist. And you are totally cool.

Enjoy the holiday, All!

Over and out.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 23, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

"Money alone doesn't win elections - ask Meg Whitman."

No, it doesn't. But money puts you in the game. Ask Rick Scott.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 23, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. What irkes me about people like Brock is not that he's a hypocrite, he doesn't care that he is.

Posted by: bbface21 | November 23, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I wrote Obama and the Democrats off on campaign finance reform when he backed out of his promise to adhere to Federal Presidential Campaign spending limits in 2008 if the Republican candidate (McCain) did.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/19/AR2008061900914.html

Democrats are all about campaign finance reform as long as it disadvantages Republicans more than them.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/item_Q9QBntRbo6XshtvbEvIGKM

Posted by: jnc4p | November 23, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a pragmatic short-term decision that can be distinguished from the long-term policy ideal. There's little chance of even getting the DISCLOSE Act passed in the lame-duck, much less in the next Congress. Forget stronger measures, such as moving forward with a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. So is the left just supposed to roll over and continue to be outspent with the money of corporations & billionaires, or does it fight dirty and try to restore balance to the political debate? If they don't fight back, the prospect for campaign finance reform could actually get worse, given the number of Democratic seats in the Senate that are up for election in 2012.

Sometimes political decisions don't live up to the ideal, but sometimes it is justifiable as a short-term course of action. The danger lies in how long you have to grit your teeth and do something that goes against your better angels, and whether that action in itself becomes corrupting. I'm willing to give them at least the next election cycle, maybe longer, to try to work on the problem in this fashion.

Maybe they'll all spend so much money in 2012 that public opinion will actually force a change in the system. Or maybe the public simply thinks it is beyond repair. But the Republicans won't opt for reform as long as they perceive they have an advantage with the current system.

Posted by: reach4astar2 | November 23, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@sue: ""Money alone doesn't win elections - ask Meg Whitman."

"No, it doesn't. But money puts you in the game. Ask Rick Scott."
======
I think a fair reading of Brock here is to see his assertion that the GOP won big merely because they had lots of money. The Dems had just as much money on their side this last cycle so they were already "in the game" but *still* lost. It's demonstrably more than money that wins/loses elections and it's rather hilarious (and sad) that Brock wants to excuse Dem losses on only money.

If MM hadn't gotten all high and mighty about undisclosed donors then they wouldn't be in this pickle of hypocrisy. Not quite sure how anyone could take them seriously after this.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 23, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The last time I heard, there was still around $200 million of 'small-dollar' donations to Obama's 2008 campaign that were never properly documented, or validated to ensure that lots of little donations did not add up to more than the individual limits that would violate federal campaign finance laws.

Whether these undocumented donations were from foreign sources, the source of illegal bundling, or whatever we will never know because the Obama campaign refused to disclose whatever information they DID have on the sources.

Make no mistake, the hand-wringing on the left over Citizens United is for one simple reason....the game has been rigged for years in the favor of labor unions being able to dominate local elections with tens of millions of dollars in real and in-kind donations.

We all know Democrats and liberal-progressives don't like level playing fields, and their days of enjoying union domination in the the political campaign landscape are over. And they are mad about it.

That's all there is to it.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 23, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

sbj: "The Dems had just as much money on their side this last cycle "

And your evidence of that is ......?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 23, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

"And your evidence of that is ......?"

The recent numbers printed in Politico: "The money race totals come to $856 million for the Democratic committees and their aligned outside groups, compared to $677 for their Republican adversaries, based on figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics."

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/44216.html#ixzz169Jlj9F4

Admittedly, final numbers aren't known yet but even if the GOP outspent the Dems it would by a small margin. It was a fair playing field.

If you buy Brock's argument then you agree that Obama won only because he massively outspent McCain?

Posted by: sbj3 | November 23, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/happy_hour_roundup_135.html

Posted by: sargegreg | November 23, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

We all know Democrats and liberal-progressives don't like level playing fields, and their days of enjoying union domination in the the political campaign landscape are over. And they are mad about it.

That's all there is to it.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 23, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

---

But we do know that conservatives like to whine.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 23, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Sevugan said Democrats “may never know” if they are outspent in the 2010 midterms because some of the conservative outside groups, such as Crossroads GPS, organized under a tax code that will never require them to make a full public accounting of their activities and donors.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/44216.html#ixzz169lrWhFM

This is the actual point of this article, how much of Republican spending on the last midterms came from undisclosed sources? And how many actual donors do shadow organizations such as Crossroads GPS actually represent? When a relatively few number of rich people/corporations can anonymously dump enough money on an election to influence it than you don't really have a level playing field.

Posted by: kmy042 | November 23, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Sargent and Media Matters should stop being so disingenuous. Everything "evil" and wrong with politics of course starts with Republicans and the Citizen's United case. Ahem. Anyone remember how "artfully" Obama used internet donations from this country and abroad to hide where exactly he was getting his money? No of course not, that would be bad etiquette to raise the issue. Instead, hide behind "well, the Republicans are doing it so we'll do it too.

To the WaPo's credit, it was actually one of the papers to raise the issue in the campaign - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/28/AR2008102803413.html.

Posted by: hostdude99 | November 23, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to tell me that anonymous cash is bad for democracy, shouldn't you be able to clearly and unambiguously demonstrate exactly how it undermines democracy in Sweden? After all, Sweden allows unlimited, anonymous, foreign, and corporate cash in elections. How has it hurt the Swedes?

Posted by: tenzors | November 24, 2010 4:40 AM | Report abuse


I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://ow.ly/3akSX .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: ricardoeddy | November 24, 2010 5:38 AM | Report abuse

"The bottom line is that undisclosed donations are bad for democracy, period -- whether coming from right or left."

So you disagree with NAACP v. Alabama (1958), then? The ability for the NAACP to keep its out of state donations undisclosed from the segregationist government of Alabama was "bad for democracy, period?" Really?

Or perhaps you realize that sometimes anonymous donations, like anonymous speech, can preserve democracy.

Posted by: johnthacker | November 24, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

"Subsequently, the wave of rightwing money created a right-wing wave. There is no right-wing wave. There was a wave of Republican money"
---------------------------------------
ROFLMAO

Right, and BEFORE the wave of money there was Teddy's seat going Repub. This guy should stop smoking crack.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 24, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

"Overall, Democratic candidates in the 63 races that flipped to the GOP had $206.4 million behind them, a tally that includes candidate fundraising and spending by parties and interests. That compares to only $171.7 million for their GOP rivals."
------------------------------------------

Kinda sucks when the money argument falls apart. So, the TIDAL WAVE of Repubs winning was because Dems OUTSPENT Repubs?

LMAO @ moronic libs.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 24, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

hostdude99:

Thanks for posting the link to the previous story in the WaPo about questionable giving to Obama's campaign in 2008.

Democrats weren't worried about corporate money in 2008, when 60% of corporate money flowed to their party. It only became a problem this year when the trend reversed, so "Citizens United" has become their favorite whining point....

Posted by: dbw1 | November 24, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"When a relatively few number of rich people/corporations can anonymously dump enough money on an election to influence it than you don't really have a level playing field. "

I agree. However, this is a problem that plagues the left, not right. Most of the money raised this cycle for GOP candidates was small, grassroots donations from individuals. It's the politically active left which thrives on large sums of special interest money given by people and organizations which benefit from policies that are usually at odds with what the majority of Americans want (like healthcare reform).

If you truly hate special interest money, you must really hate the Democrats. If you hate the Republicans on this matter, consider yourself a rank hypocrite.

Posted by: TheLastBrainLeft | November 24, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Undisclosed donations are bad for democracy? Really? How so? Our nation has a proud history of anonymous speech. For instance, though we now know who wrote them, the Federalist Papers were originally published anonymously. Ben Franklin did much anonymous writing.

Think for a moment about why we worry about money in politics--"quid pro quo"--buying favors. That's not possible if the donor is anonymous--who do you qou if you don't know who quided?

It's called free speech. Brock undoubtedly knows this, he's just a partisan hack trying to influence people who don't think very much about their opinions.

Posted by: timmaguire | November 24, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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