Reid’s Sudden Zeal For Campaign Finance Amendment Just More Koch Brothers Rhetoric

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Wednesday his intention to hold repeated floor votes, if necessary, on a piece of legislation he’s aiming straight at the Koch brothers, Reid’s favorite conservative-libertarian punching bag in the 2014 election cycle.

And this is no ordinary footnote of a bill; it’s a proposal to amend the Constitution.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) would authorize Congress to regulate fundraising and spending for Federal campaigns, authorize States to do the same for State elections, and, as Udall puts it, “not dictate any specific policies or regulations, but instead allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that withstands constitutional challenges.” The text of the bill is here.

“It’s been tried before, we should continue to push this and it should become our issue. That really puts the Koch brothers up against it. We believe and I believe that there should be spending limits. We’re going to push a constitutional amendment so we can limit spending because what is going on today is awful,” Reid told BuzzFeed Politics.

“We’re going to arrange a vote on it. We’re going to do it until we pass it because that’s the salvation of our country.”

Of course, this bill has no chance of amending the Constitution, or Harry Reid wouldn’t be ready to stage a floor show themed around a phony battle against evil Republicans intent on frustrating its chances. This is the kind of bill that makes for great Sunday news show fodder once it’s failed: “If you’ll remember, back in 2014 my Democratic colleagues and I fought in the Senate to bring about a Constitutional amendment that would level the playing field for candidates and make elections focus on the American people instead of big corporate donors. But my friends in the Republican Party would not cross the aisle on that important vote to clean up our elections laws, because they’re too vested in the old big-money system.”

The hypocrisy of that move won’t be lost on anyone familiar with opensecrets.org, which currently lists the Democratic Party’s haul for the 2014 midterms at nearly $100 million more than what the Republicans have raised.

The page devoted to Reid, who plans to run again in 2016, is pretty interesting, too. “Large individual contributions,” which channel most corporate money to a campaign by passing it through the hands of a person to keep things legal, represent $13,633,682 of Reid’s support from 2009-2014. Another $4,743,764 came from PACs, which can receive corporate money as well. Reid himself thought enough of his candidacy to throw $99,750 of his own money behind it. “Small individual contributions” — donations of less than $200 from living, breathing people — came in at $2,091,999.

At least Reid is being remarkably transparent about one thing: his motives for getting hung up on a Constitutional amendment right here at the start of summer 2014.

“The Koch Brothers, I’m not walking away from them,” he told BuzzFeed. “I’m going to be on their tail for the whole campaign because if they think [Mitt] Romney was watched closely by me, that’s nothing compared to what it’s going to be like with the Koch Brothers.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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