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Obamarama - Shades of Poshard *** Updated x1 ***

Thursday, Feb 1, 2007

At the very bottom of Lynn Sweet’s column today is this: [emphasis added]

Obama opens his presidential fund-raising drive with a laudable self-imposed ban on accepting money from federal lobbyists, political action committees, registered foreign agents and youths under the age of 16.

A common scam for rich donors is to get around federal giving limits by writing checks in the names of their kids — students or tots who are being used by their parents. […]

But he’s been willing to take PAC money in the past — more than $1 million.

While his new standard is welcome, it opens the doors for this question: Should he try to refund PAC and lobby money he has taken in the past?

Remember Glenn Poshard? He banned most of those very same contributions when he ran for governor against George Ryan in 1998. As a result, he had constant money troubles.

There was no such thing as an Internet-based fundraising drive back then, and Obama will undoubtedly depend heavily on the mysterious intertubes to raise money. He’s also brought in Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker to head up his fundraising eforts.

But there was another problem as well. By positioning himself as holier than thou and imposing such strict and broad limits, Poshard opened himself up to a million little pimpy charges by Ryan and reporters that he was “violating” his own ethics rules. Ryan, who is now a convicted felon, managed to paint Poshard - one of the more ethical people I’ve ever known - as “tainted.”

Sweet points out the first big hole in Obama’s ethical conversion. If the PAC money is now “bad” and won’t be accepted, shouldn’t he therefore return all of that nasty ol’ cash? Guaranteed, there will be lots more stuff just like this.

A lot of people told Poshard back then: “First, you get elected, then you change the rules.”


*** UPDATE *** As noted by “vole” in comments, another problem with Obama’s decision is that people can say, “Well, you banned those contributions, why not these?” Vole was referring to bundled comments, which Obama will still accept, even though the commenter believes bundled contributions are also tainted goods. I’m sure you can think of any number of pet reforms that people could demand he force on himself.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:34 am:

    I think this has more to do with the fact that Obama knows he can never raise as much as Hillary, and he wants to portray that as a good thing. It’s a dangerous gamble, to be sure. But it’s one that he almost has to take.

  2. - leigh - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:38 am:

    I applaud his self imposed ethics and will not concern myself with his previous fundraising. One thing I saw in the media that is bothering me, and I will be the first to admit how stupid this is, Obama is a smoker. For some reason the image of our next president being a smoker bothers me. I have plenty of friends who smoke and I don’t think twice about it, so I don’t know why it matters, but it does.

  3. - Just Observing - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:52 am:

    I think its stupid… the voters don’t care or vote based on your intake of PAC, special interest money unless it is so egregious that that’s all the media talks about. He can still continue his squeaky clean image without this hindering ban, and Rich is right, it gives people an opportunity to scrutinize more.

    Leigh makes an interesting point, but I haven’t seen any news stories about Obama being a smoker, although I have know that he is one.

    Rich, can I ask a bonus question? What brand of cigarettes is most presidential? What brand is least? I think Parliament Lights would be a good fit for the President. Maybe Benson and Hedges.

  4. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:54 am:

    I applaud Obama, and he needs to return the money he received from his 2004 campaign fund to show that he is sincere.

    We have a governor right now that is all talk and no show regarding campaign reform. Obama can’t look like Blagojevich and win.

    So pony up Barak! You’ll still do just fine. The media is afraid of saying anything negative about you, or even reporting that someone else is saying something negative about you. They are eating out of your hands.

    I agree with what Dick Morris says about you being like stem cells; everyone hopes you evolve into their dream candidate. Thats a good start. Since you are a newby - you should at least play with your strength of being something to everyone.

    I’ll see you when you announce. It will be an exciting day!

  5. - ZC - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:56 am:

    This was lose-lose-win for Poshard. He lost because he didn’t have enough money. He also lost because (and I think this is especially important for Obama today) he really didn’t earn him any credit for his stance. It drove us Poshard volunteers crazy how in the late stages of 1998, public opinion polls would say that the Illinois public thought that Ryan had a higher standard of ethics than Poshard did. But that’s what a corrupt money machine can buy you, if your opponent doesn’t have the resources to fire back - a public aura of being less corrupt.

    Of course it catches up with you, and that’s why I say Poshard did “win” in the limited sense that look where the two men are today. Poshard wasn’t gov, but he kept his sometimes-extreme sense of integrity, and people still respond to it today. If Obama is truly concerned about keeping himself to that higher road - even if it does hurt his electoral chances - I’ve gotta respect that. Poshard nearly won, never forget.

  6. - vole - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:06 pm:

    “money primary” in Sweet’s column says it all.

    I cannot make an ethical distinction between accepting PAC money and the money raised by bundling as described by Sweet: ” As an incentive to hustle, people who raise at least $46,000 will be invited to a dinner party at Geffen’s house.” How do these people differ from Bush’s “Rangers” and “Pioneers”? Are these people not also members of PAC’s? What nonsense.

    All of this still smacks of an wealthy elite in America who have the first run at selecting who will be the primary front runners.

    Obama’s efforts to do the ethical side step don’t impress me. But this is the system and it sucks.

  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:11 pm:

    “vole” brings up another excellent point. He may be constantly peppered with “Well, you banned those contributions, why not these?”

  8. - ndpotus - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:20 pm:

    Just an FYI under the McCain-Feingold bill of a few years back anyone under 18 can not donate to a federal PAC or candidate…

  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 1:05 pm:

    Jay Hoffman had the best one-liner response to campaign finance reform I’ve ever heard:

    “I have no idea who gives me money.”

    As for who will win the fundraising race, I’m willing to bet on Obama v. Clinton any day.

    In addition to Penny Pritzker, here’s three names for you:

    Bill Gates
    Warren Buffett
    Oprah Winfrey

    That right, the richest woman and the two richest men in America, and they’re all in Obama’s corner. And that’s why I don’t think that Obama’s fundraising constraints will hurt that much.

  10. - Justice - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 2:13 pm:

    Obama doesn’t need money as long as he keeps getting the huge amount of free press he is receiving, but that dance is likely end, then what? The point made about money received prior to the self imposed rules is a valid point. If it’s a good thing not to accept it now, was it bad then? It opens him up for criticism as it suggests that it was bad then. That can haunt him. Having some heavy hitters on your side can help you when financial times get tough but the marathon has just begun. Those big hitters can fade away pretty quick. Obama a smoker……wow. that alone can end his candidacy……well, anyway, it is a small crack in the perfect suit of armor, just as the Rezko connection will be a large crack. Too bad Obama can’t use the “pennies for a tomb” campaign used to help build the Lincoln tomb. He could have had millions of children from all over the world sending in pennies to help him get elected. But maybe a penny doesn’t count as a contribution since it alone can’t buy anything? Could be a way around the law?? Hey, he just might be able to get by with it. In fact, I just think I’ll take one with me to the Old State Capitol.

  11. - native son of 2nd Ward - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 5:09 pm:

    That Hoffman quote is hillarious. Come on, Jay!

    And to think, YDD, that the only people that Bill and the other Blago lovers on this blog can come up with under the definition of “great legislator” are Jay Hoffman and Carol Ronen. Any time a new speaker is speculated about? “Jay Hoffman would be great” say the Blago folks. They never cite any one else, probably because no other legislators on either side like or trust the Governor.

    With the quote you gave, YDD, Jay better start finding out who gives him his cash or he will never hope to be Speaker!

  12. - Capt. Obvious - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 5:17 pm:

    Self imposed limits are a bad idea Glendell proved that big time.
    And you waste a lot of time deciding if the money is good or bad,
    Don’t fool yourselves Obama will need every dime he get to stay in this one.
    Perhaps he will _@%_@*_*A@$_can this idea.

  13. - Conservative Republican - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 5:56 pm:

    Since you shut down comments on your last Obama post, I just wanted to observe that a liberal like you took the typical liberal media tactic regarding liberal Biden’s clear faux pas by passing over the level of Biden’s blunder and changing the subject to…that baddie Rush Limbaugh!!

    Few in the liberal media seem to be too interested in reminding anyone that Biden’s last presidential campaign imploded badly when it was discovered that he plagiarized his own biographical speech! If Biden were a conservative, the media would be battering him with both his new and old blunders simultaneously. Kind of like Dan Quayle never escaping reminders of his “Murphy Brown speech” and “spelling potato”. Of course, Biden’s forty years of fealty to liberalism buys him his media pass, including one by Rich Miller.

  14. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 9:38 pm:

    CR, it was the commenters who focused on Rush’s twitty comments. Most of my post was about why the press was feeding so heavily on the Biden comment. But, it’s certainly not my fault that Limbaugh is a twit. It’s a fact of life.

  15. - vole - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 5:38 am:

    Why should I make an effort to post comments if you are going to delete them? I made a diligent effort to respond and clarify my position that you commented on. If the language did not pass the profanity test, send it back to me and I’ll edit it. I feel strongly about this and my language reflected it. No apology.

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 6:10 am:

    Vole, I didn’t delete anything

  17. - vole - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 6:23 am:

    I posted a comment yesterday evening. It appeared on this post. Not there this morning. ???

  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 6:31 am:

    Oops. Yeah. I did delete it. Just did a search and found it. Language issues. I don’t have an e-mail address for you so I couldn’t send it back to you even if I wanted to. You should know better than to swear. It’s right there in bold red letters that profanity is “absolutely not acceptable in any form.” Your problem not mine.

  19. - 'Lainer - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 6:39 am:

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I think you all are taking Rush a little too seriously. He himself says that he’s an ENTERTAINER first and foremost — not a politician or a scholar. His #1 aim is to get people to listen to his show, period. I myself am a conservative who once listened to his show regularly, but have since tired of his shtick. If being a twit gets people to tune in, that’s what he’ll do. So lighten up.

  20. - vole - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 6:42 am:

    OK. Here is the 6 am version:

    Why do I not make a distinction between money from PACs/lobbyists and money from bundlers? The potential for association between interest group money and influence are obvious in both forms of contributions.

    The Bush campaign received millions of dollars raised by “pioneers” and “rangers” who bundled contributions of $100,000 and $200,000. There is ample evidence that the interests of these individuals and groups are now disproportionately and heavily represented in federal agencies which have major impact on policy.

    I am absolutely certain that the group of bundlers and rainmakers that Sweet addresses in his article would have a major impact on policy making in a future Obama administration. There is no way that Obama can assure skeptics that this money will not be tied to influence. And Republicans would have every justification to question this influence as I do now about Bush.

    Democracy seems to have evolved into a system of making choices among blocks of wealthy elites who best represent our political views. Do Obama’s rich friends better represent my views than Bush’s rich friends? I hope. But I have abandoned any illusion that this is a true democracy.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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