Tuesday morning, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) issued a harsh statement criticizing President Obama’s campaign for going after super PAC funding. Feingold said the decision was “dumb strategy” and would turn Democrats’ progressive campaign message into “corporate-lite.” Though the Obama administration remains opposed to the Citizens United decision that opened the door to the Super PAC era, the campaign announced Monday night that in order to compete against Republicans in 2012 they need to raise more money by using such groups.
Feingold, who co-authored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, has made similar comments before. In fact, his statement uses the same language he used to criticeze the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action in 2011 at the progressive conference Netroots Nation where he told the audience “it’s dancing with the devil.”
Feingold’s full statement:
Statement from Former Senator Russ Feingold on President Obama’s decision to embrace Super PACs in 2012: “The President is wrong to embrace the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of Super PACs - organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and the richest individuals, sometimes in total secrecy. It’s not just bad policy; it’s also dumb strategy.
“Democrats have tried this strategy before, when enormous amounts of soft money were raised by Democratic Leadership in the 1990s. The result was the enactment, with active Democratic support, of a corporate-dominated policy agenda that included trade policies that shipped millions of family-supporting jobs overseas, fiscally reckless tax laws that greatly increased our long-term debt, and the disastrous banking and financial deregulation that paved the way for the worst recession since the Great Depression.
“Just as importantly, this corrupting tactic will gut a winning, progressive strategy. When Democrats play by Republican rules, people see our party as weak, and a false alternative to the power of rich individual and corporate interests that are increasingly dominating our government.
“This is dancing with the devil. I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don’t agree, and I understand the desire to do everything possible to win. But this decision will push Democrats to become corporate-lite, and will send us head-on into a battle we know we will lose, because Republicans like Mitt Romney and his friends have and will spend more money. “Two years ago, the President was right to chastise the Supreme Court for its lawless ruling in Citizens United. Now, he and his campaign need to live up to those principles and reject the support of any Super PACs.”