Bernie Sanders wants to get money out of politics. Just not yet, though.
On Monday, the independent Vermont senator unveiled a plan to overhaul campaign finance. It was a welcome distraction from talk about his health, given the fact that it took his campaign some time to disclose that yes, he did indeed suffer a heart attack when he was rushed to the hospital last week.
Sanders’ plan reads like an attack on the Democratic National Committee, which sounds about right after the DNC basically acted as a de facto arm of the Clinton campaign last election cycle.
“In 2016, seventeen donors gave three-quarters of the Democratic National Convention funding, with large corporations like Bank of America, Peco Energy, Comcast, and Facebook each donating over $1 million,” Sanders’ campaign website reads.
“Their lobbyists were everywhere and filled the VIP suites. This type of corporate sponsorship is a corrupting influence and must end if politicians are going to represent the American people.”
“In 2016, the fundraising committee for the DNC was led by an insurance executive and a Comcast executive. Currently, some Committee Chairs work as CEOs and Board Members for large health care lobbying groups, and companies such as Comcast. Under my administration, the DNC will no longer accept corporate money.”
Bernie’s “Money Out of Politics Plan” would “[a]bolish the worthless FEC and replace it with the Federal Election Administration, a true law enforcement agency” which could “impose civil and criminal penalties for violations.” (Emphasis theirs.) It would also make public financing of campaigns mandatory and ban former congressmen or their staffers from becoming lobbyists.
He would also promote legislation “to end super PACs, political spending by 501c4s and other organizations who accept unlimited contributions or do not disclose donors.”
While Sanders is going after big money and promoting public funding, however, he’s certainly raising plenty of money for this campaign cycle.
According to The New York Times, Sanders was the biggest money-raiser in the Democrat field during the third quarter of 2019, having taken in $25.3 million.
This put him above Elizabeth Warren; the Massachusetts senator was in second place with $24.6 million. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was in third place with $19.1 million and former Vice President Joe Biden was in fourth place with $15.2 million.
Sanders took in $18 million in the second quarter, as well — a total which put him fourth among contenders.
As for the first quarter, he again took in $18 million, meaning he’s taken in a grand total of $61 million this year.
And while the Vermont senator has bragged about the fact that he takes in the vast majority of his money from small donors, that’s changed this cycle. According to OpenSecrets.org, only 59.9 percent of his donations came from small donors.
So, in short, Bernie isn’t going to lead by example. But then again, this isn’t terribly surprising.
Sanders’ campaign finance program is certainly a convenient way to get people’s minds off of his recent health scare. It manages to take a few good shots at the DNC, an organization he’s not necessarily on good terms with. It’s the kind of thing that sounds good, at least on paper — especially since he frames it as booting big money from our campaigns.
But if Sanders is the Democrat nominee, rest assured he’s going to be taking plenty of money from sources he openly disagrees with. After all, he needs to win, right?
His plan is bad for a number of reasons, particularly the fact that it’s an unconstitutional limitation on free speech. However, beyond that, the question practically asks itself: If this is such a great idea, why won’t he follow it?
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