The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and its counterpart in the House likely thought they were making a big concession by forgoing lobbyists and political action committee cash during a June fundraising event with Barack Obama.
But, in a town where anger over the power of special interests groups reigns supreme, a group of progressives are now calling out the two committees for making the pledge only a one-night affair.
On Tuesday, a coalition of good government group executives, online organizers and state and local bloggers released a petition lashing out at the DSCC and DCCC. The committees, the letter reads, are "hypocritical" for publicizing the anti-lobbyist component of the president-attended fundraiser when, during the other 364 days of the year, they eagerly take in cash from these same sources.
Accompanied by a new website, www.StopFakeReform.com, the petition concludes that "most Americans" would deem such behavior "repulsive," and calls on the committees to "ban PAC and lobbyist contributions 365 days a year, just as President Obama did."
We read that you have chosen to accept President Obama's ban on fundraising from PACs and lobbyists, but only for June 18 -- the day he headlines a fundraiser for you.
This isn't just hypocritical -- it defies common sense that you'd think the public would believe this was a principled stand against special-interest influence.
For 364 days a year, your rules would allow members of Congress to leave a hearing about regulating Wall Street and then walk straight to the DSCC and DCCC offices to "dial for dollars" from Wall Street lobbyists who want more bailout money and less accountability to taxpayers. Most Americans would find that conflict of interest repulsive.
The letter is signed by, among others Lawrence Lessig, Co-Founder of Change Congress; Nick Nyhart, President of Public Campaign; David Arkush, Director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division; Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com and Chris Bowers of OpenLeft. Joining them are bloggers in the home states of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and DSCC Chair Robert Menendez.
Officials with the DSCC did not immediately return a request for comment. Jen Crider, a spokesperson for the DCCC noted that: "Democrats enacted the strongest ethics and lobbying reform in history. Our fundraising is fully transparent."
The two party committees are caught in a bit of a bind when it comes to the scope and nature of their fundraising apparatuses. Obama set a standard of not accepting lobbyist and political action committee money during his run for the president, and he dictated that the Democratic National Committee do the same. For the House and Senate committees, however, practical political needs may overshadow those ethics standards. As noted by Politico: "In January and February, the period covered by their most recent electronically available filings, the DCCC raised $990,000 from PACs and $4.8 million from individuals -- a tally that includes contributions from lobbyists. The DSCC, meanwhile, had raised $2.6 million from PACs and $2.7 million from individuals."