400 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
- Toll Free 1.888.564.6273
- Local 202.783.3870
Back in January, deep within the bowels of the liberal stronghold known as the Center for American Progress, Sen. Chuck Schumer delivered a scathing denunciation of the tea party, proposing a variety of strategies for Democrats to thwart the grassroots movement in the upcoming midterm elections.
Among the Senator’s most pressing concerns was the change in campaign finance laws ushered in 2010 by the landmark Citizens United Supreme Court decision, in which the Court ruled that contributions to political campaigns through 501(c)(4) organizations were protected speech under the First Amendment. The more recent McCutcheon decision went still further in abolishing aggregate caps on political contributions, resulting in predictable apoplexy from the left.
“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created this ill-advised decision. Obviously, the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government,” Schumer said.
Schumer is not the first person to level attacks on the sources of tea party funding. In 2009, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described the movement—without evidence—as “astroturf,” meaning a phony grassroots movement funded by special interests. Someone should remind these Democratic leaders that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
It’s ironic that Sen. Schumer delivered his speech in the Center for American Progress (CAP.) Last year, when the Obama White House tapped CAP founder and chairman John Podesta to become a senior advisor, the group was forced to reveal its donor list—the results were hardly a testament to grassroots activism or non-partisanship.
CAP’s major donors included Goldman-Sachs, Walmart, General Electric, Microsoft, Comcast and a slew of health insurance companies and K St. lobbyists. Meanwhile, Schumer’s own donor list reads like a who’s who of Wall St. investment companies, Washington lobbyists and law firms. So much for protecting the little guy from special interest money in politics.
The point is not just that “both sides do it.” Financial contributions to politics represents a form of constitutionally protected speech, and are important for free and open participation in the democratic process. The “dark money” that Democrats so decry is actually a good thing, as it protects people from potential discrimination based on their political beliefs. This is something we have seen happen with the IRS targeting conservative groups.
The truth is that Schumer and his Democratic allies are desperately grasping for a way to destroy the tea party, and campaign finance laws provide a convenient mechanism for doing so—especially when they can be enacted through regulations that do not have to undergo congressional scrutiny or approval.
“[T]here are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies,” Schumer said. “We must redouble those efforts immediately.”
This comment refers to a proposed IRS rule that would effectively muzzle many 501(c)(4) non-profit groups during the rapidly approaching election season.
It’s nothing more than attempt by government insiders and special interests to protect their position by shutting ordinary people out of the political process. Politically connected lobbyists have enjoyed unchallenged access to special favors from the government for as long as they can remember. Now that independent, third party groups are threatening to upset their apple care of special privilege, they are terrified.
Sen. Schumer believes that politics should be controlled by special interests. He believes that all the money for campaigns should come from these shady groups protected by government favors. Now that real people are breaking the funding monopoly, he wants to selectively protect his donors while silencing the opposition through political force. We believe different. We believe that all Americans should have a voice in democracy, not just those with political connections, and we view the attempt to close the process to outsiders as fundamentally unjust and un-American. And the American people appear to agree with us.
Many thousands of concerned citizens left comments with the IRS demanding that the agency hold open hearings to discuss the implications of its new rule. It remains to be seen what action the agency will take, but it is important that we keep them under close watch to ensure that our fundamental rights to participate in the democratic process are not undermined by the hypocritical left.