Democrats Slammed for Hypocrisy in Big-Money Fundraising

Wednesday, 30 Apr 2014 09:10 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Democrats at the highest levels of politics continue to slam the billionaire conservative brothers David and Charles Koch for making major donations to conservative causes, but the party is also working with heavy-weight donors to haul in big money, a move that is leading to charges of hypocrisy.

According to Politico, Democrats believe their big-money fundraising is more legitimate than the donor activities on the right, justifying it by saying that Democratic donors give to candidates and causes that could hurt their own economic position because of the party's plans to raise tax brackets for the rich. Conservatives, on the other hand, they say, are acting out of self-interest to prevent their own taxes from rising and to fight regulation from affecting their businesses.

A gathering of major Democratic donors in Chicago this week for the spring annual meeting of the Democracy Alliance donor club raised more than $30 million for liberal groups.

"Questions about the party's split personality on the issue were dodged, rejected, or answered with an array of rationalizations. This is, when they weren't met with recriminations or even gentle physical force," Politico noted. "The liberal strain of the argument is usually sprinkled with a heaping helping of moral superiority."

For example, one participant, former Stride Rite President Arnold Hiatt, who donated at least $1.9 million to Democratic super PACs and nonprofits in 2012, told Politico, "The people who are giving money into politics here are interested in changing the system. They're not interested in getting return on investment."

Recent court decisions have given the green light to the super rich to make major donations to their parties, allowing them to exert significant influence from behind closed doors.

But while many Democrats have decried the new system and have pushed measures to reduce the role of money in politics — they are nonetheless participating in the new big-money system.

"Most of these people would love to put themselves out of business," David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, told Politico. "Most of these people would prefer a country in which big donors didn't play as large a role in our politics," added Axelrod, who in 2012 called the Koch brothers and other conservative big-donor groups "contract killers in super PAC-land."

"But so long as money in politics is required, there are going to be people on both sides who are willing to step up and provide it."

Meanwhile, Democrats have also been aggressive in attacking the Kochs for refusing to be transparent, and even behaving secretively, but according to Politico, reporters at the Chicago event were repeatedly told they were not to approach any of the donors at the event to "respect their privacy."

"These donors have a right to use their money how they choose — whether it's to entities like super PACs that disclose their donors or to 501(c) entities that don't," Jason Torchinsky, a top election lawyer who represents GOP party committees and many conservative nonprofits, told Politico.

"So I don't fault those guys for what they're doing. I just think that when their side screams about what our side does, they should look in the mirror."

Since 2005, the Democratic Alliance has given $500 million to recommended groups, and while it is not possible to get an exact figure for how much money is being raised and spent through 501(c)(4) nonprofits, Democrats have an edge in big-money super PAC fundraising in 2012, according to Politico.

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