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Obama's Disingenuous PAC Statement

By March 31, 2008

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Saturday, Sen. Barack Obama's spokesman Bill Burton repeated the oft-made assertion that "Obama doesn't take PAC money or money from federal registered lobbyists." (Claim rebutted by The Boston Globe last August.)

Given that PACS must be "bad" for Obama's campaign to make such an assertion, regardless of its merit, what do we make of the fact that Obama himself runs a PAC? And Obama's Leadership PAC (The Hope Fund) accepted donations from 56 PACs in 2004-2006, according to the Globe. In 2006, Harper's itemized corporate and legal (law firms) interests, PACs and lobbyists who had financed Obama's campaigns and Leadership PAC.

Are we to assume that all PACs are not created equal? That some are "bad" (corporate ones) and some are "good" (Congressional ones)?

Leadership PACs -- those set up and controlled by members of Congress -- contributed $11 million to federal campaigns in the 1998 election cycle. In 2006, it was $42 million. With an almost four-fold increase in activity, one could easily argue that Leadership PACs are contributing to the mess that is campaign finance, not helping reform it.

Finally, Obama is the only leading presidential candidate who had made 2008 election cycle campaign contributions to federal candidates, as of January 1. Since January 2005, he has given three times as much to federal candidates (sitting Senators and Representatives and, possibly, challengers) as Sen. Hillary Clinton (HILLPAC). Remember, those incumbent Democrats are super-delegates in August.

The Swamp notes:

New Hampshire state Sen. Jacalyn Cilley, for instance, received $1,000 from Obama's PAC last summer. Six days later she happened to endorse the same Obama for president.

These tables show the extent of Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton's leadership PAC donations and whether or not the candidate has been endorsed for president, if that is known. There is not yet a direct cause-and-effect: that is, everyone who has gotten money has not endorsed a candidate. And both candidates have endorsements from senators and representatives who have not received leadership PAC contributions.

Instead, the Leadership PAC, like Obama's history with political money, remind me of Caesar's justification for divorce: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."

"Change" or "more of the same"? Seems pretty clear to me.

What Is A Leadership PAC"
What Are Super-Delegates?
Money, Politics and Advocacy
Obama King of Leadership PACS
The Candidates: Missed Votes
The Making Of A Candidate
Top 10 Political Action Committees (PACs) - 2006


April 3, 2008 at 11:34 am
(1) Deborah White says:

Guess I don’t really see much of a problem in candidates supporting other candidates…. especially given the myriad of much worse offenses afflicting our current campaign finance system. Am I missing something?

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