Citizens United For Me, But Not For Thee

February 6th, 2012

From the TImes:

President Obama is signaling to wealthy Democratic donors that he wants them to start contributing to an outside group supporting his re-election, reversing a long-held position as he confronts a deep financial disadvantage on a vital front in the campaign.

Aides said the president had signed off on a plan to dispatch cabinet officials, senior advisers at the White House and top campaign staff members to make clear to donors that they should support Priorities USA Action, the leading Democratic “super PAC,” whose fund-raising has been dwarfed by Republican groups. The new policy was presented to the campaign’s National Finance Committee in a call Monday evening and was set to be announced Tuesday. . . .

The decision, which comes nine months before Election Day, escalates the money wars and is a milestone in Mr. Obama’s evolving stances on political fund-raising. The lines have increasingly blurred between presidential campaigns and super PACs, which have flourished since a 2010 Supreme Court ruling and other legal and regulatory decisions made it easier for outside groups to raise unlimited donations to promote candidates.

The outside groups are playing an increasingly prominent role in the presidential race by running aggressive advertising campaigns, often attacking opponents. Mr. Obama said in 2008 that he did not want support from outside groups and took a strong stand against the influence of special-interest money in politics, effectively shutting down independent activity on his behalf.

Was that State of the Union really two years ago? The Times can’t even call it Citizens United by name.
Anyway, I find it very hard to get worked up about Citizens United or any campaign finance case. Smart people who want to influence elections will find way to contribute money to candidates of choice. I don’t care if you call it a contribution or independent expenditure. I don’t care if you call it a PAC, a Super PAC, a Super Duper PAC, or whatever. They money will invariably flow. And if any mistakes are made, the politician will just apologize, return the money, and maybe pay a fine long after the campaign is over.
These laws are hardly even parchment barriers.
Update: Citizens United for me, but not for thee

The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending.

But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.

I suppose an Amendment–which would have no way of going into force before the President reaches his term limits (really, it has no chance whatsoever, but let’s be charitable)–would really fit nicely into his view of the law. Change it, but not that it affects me!