Despite Democratic opposition to fundraising from outside groups, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., supports President Obama’s decision to endorse a Super PAC working on behalf of his re-election campaign.
Earlier this week, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina announced that senior campaign and White House officials, including cabinet members, will attend and speak at Super PAC fundraising events for Priorities USA Action. It was a reversal from a previous pledge that the president’s staff and aides would not help such groups, which wield more power after the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision.
Yarmuth says he would prefer the president not have his cabinet attend Super PAC events, but it would be unwise for the White House to not use the technique in an election year. He adds that the president has stood against the Citizens United case and supports other reforms to reduce Super PAC influence.
“The rules are what the rules are and you can’t go to a knife fight with a library book and you can’t unilaterally disarm. So, I understand the decision he’s made,” says Yarmuth, adding the president has stood against the decision. “I don’t think anybody up until this year really understood the full potential of Citizens United. So you do have to keep up with the conditions as they evolve and I think that’s what they’re doing.”
Yarmuth has filed a bill that would amend the U.S. Constitution and topple key provisions of the controversial case, which allows for corporate and special-interest influence on elections and in Washington.
The congressman has been an advocate for taking “money out of politics” and points out the president has railed against the use of unlimited fundraising and spending, however, Republicans were quick to highlight the “brazen flip-flop” as a way to payback Democratic interest groups.
“Yet again, Barack Obama has proven he will literally do anything to win an election, including changing positions on the type of campaign spending he called nothing short of a ‘threat to our democracy,’” Republican National Committee research director Joe Pounder told Politico. “In less than 24 hours, Obama has gone from decrying super PACs in the morning to opening up the door to their money during a conference call with his big money donors in the middle of the night.”
Those who favor stricter campaign finance rules have voiced concern and many advocates—such as former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold—weren’t pleased by the decision either. In a statement, the liberal Democrat said it was “wrong to embrace…corrupt corporate politics” and that welcoming Super PACs was a “dumb strategy.”