Democrats are in desperation mode with the midterm picture looking perhaps grimmer now than ever, and so their “October surprise” such as it is seems to be this attack on the Chamber of Commerce and other Republican money groups alleging that the groups are accepting foreign money.
Here’s the ad they’re running:
Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie: They’re Bush cronies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: They’re shills for big business. And they’re stealing our democracy. Spending millions from secret donors to elect Republicans to do their bidding in Congress. It appears they’ve even taken secret foreign money to influence our elections. It’s incredible: Republicans benefiting from secret foreign money. Tell the Bush crowd and the Chamber of Commerce: Stop stealing our democracy.
The problem? Well, this really isn’t true according to no less a source of than the New York Times (hardly a bastion of sympathy for the Karl Roves of the world), and to the extent that the claims are true they’re really nothing all that unusual:
A closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.
In fact, the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce financing may say more about the Washington spin cycle — where an Internet blog posting can be quickly picked up by like-minded groups and become political fodder for the president himself — than it does about the vagaries of campaign finance.
By the way, as Glenn Reynolds notes, this is all pretty rich coming from the Obama administration. According to one analysis of the Obama campaign’s 2008 election cycle fundraising they may have taken as much as $63 million in foreign currency donations. The New York Post reported that the Obama campaign was running an online contribution system that “facilitates illegal falsely sourced contributions, illegal foreign contributions and the evasion of contribution limits.” And the Obama administration specifically avoided security measures on their credit card processing that would have allowed them to ensure that the contributions they were taking were legitimate and legal.
Remember that the FEC never did an audit of the Obama campaign’s fundraising despite a frightening amount of evidence indicating that there was something seriously wrong going on at the heart of it.
I welcome transparency when it comes to fundraising done by the Chamber of Commerce and people like Karl Rove. The people can and should know is influencing the political process in this country.
But if we’re going to go down this road, let’s start with a thorough audit of Obama’s vaunted fundraising machine.