opinion | Democrats can work to ban black money from primaries

opinion |  Democrats can work to ban black money from primaries


Dark money is our latest electoral scourge. A flood of this unregulated, often undisclosed cash has engulfed the 2022 primary season, affecting elections across the country. Senate Republicans, backed by corporate lobbies, are constantly blocking Congress’ work on the issue. But now, the Democrats, at least, have a chance to clean up their primaries.

When the Democratic National Committee met in Washington this week, Nevada State Party chairwoman Judith Whitmer and more than 30 members of the Democratic National Council. You will support DNC ​​Resolution 19He called on the party to ban black money in the Democratic primary.

No one can doubt that work is inevitable. According to the nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets, dark money Exceeded a billion dollars in the 2020 presidential race. The Wesleyan Media Project reported this year, Nearly 60 percent All ads in the Democratic House primary were purchased by sources who did not disclose, or only partially disclosed, the donors.

An increasing amount of money is pouring in from corporations and Republican donors in the Democratic primaries to defeat progressive candidates. Perhaps the most famous example is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its various PACs and outlets, which are reported to be I raised 1 million dollars each Notable Republicans include Bernie Marcus and Paul Singer as part of a war fund used against progressive candidates in the primaries. More than $2 million was poured into largely negative ads against Summer Lee, a progressive state lawmaker working in Pittsburgh, accusing her of being an unfaithful Democrat. Lee started as a favorite and barely survivedbut other progressive women—including Donna Edwards in Maryland, Nina Turner in Ohio, Jessica Cisneros in Texas, and Nida Allam in North Carolina—have suffered defeat amid an outpouring of negative advertising funded by AIPAC and other outside groups.

AIPAC’s example will only amplify the torrents of black money pouring into future primaries. because of partisan manipulationLess than 15 percent of congressional districts are now running in the general election. In what remains, primaries effectively decide the winner, and since they are generally less expensive than general elections, more and more donors will find it in their interest to intervene early. As Whitmer told The Nation, the coming “avalanche” of black money is reaching the point where “people lose their right to choose their candidates.”

The DNC has the authority to act. Courts have ruled that political parties are primarily voluntary organizations with rights of free association. They can set their own rules for selecting their candidates.

It will not be easy to ban dark money from outside groups. Whitmer’s decision calls for the party to establish mechanisms to investigate and detect the use of black money, and to enable states to set ground rules to ensure transparency.

Actions would likely include requiring all candidates to disavow outside propaganda by groups with undisclosed donors. Sanctions for hiring campaign companies and workers who work for abusive groups would be more effective. Advertising the campaign has become a notorious money-making racket for consultants, and jeopardizing the flow of dough to major advertising, consulting, and fundraising firms will have a sobering effect.

The real concern about partial campaign finance reforms – that no candidate or party can “disarm unilaterally” – does not apply here. The DNC will reform contests between rival Democrats — and any ban on dark money will certainly help limit Republican interests from interfering in those elections.

With progressives as big targets for outside money, it is no surprise that progressive leaders have led the call for reform. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially DNC called to action, noting that “dark money is dark money, whether it’s funded by Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires.” Sanders argues that if the flooding continues, it will “mortally demoralize the Democratic base and alienate potential Democratic voters.”

In June, Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Mark Buchan (whiskey), and Jimmy B. urging superiors Of all three major partisan bodies — the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee — to ban SuperPAC money in the Democratic primaries, warning that “record amounts of money from millionaires and billionaires have crept into our primaries, and… They drowned out the popular campaigns of the working class and progressive candidates.”

The DNC meets on Friday. Its meetings are traditionally tightly controlled from above. The president – now Jaime Harrison – is taking his cues from the White House. It usually has enough proxies from DNC members who cannot attend the meeting to guarantee the outcome.

Passing Whitmer’s decision should not be controversial. Democrats in both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on HR 1, the comprehensive voting rights bill introduced in 2021, which included strong campaign financing elements. President Biden campaigned for its passage. This bill was eventually rejected, but now, the Democratic National Committee can take action to clean up its home. You should not fail this test.

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