Mitt Romney had his secret, exclusive retreat for big-money funders last weekend, bringing together the likes of Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, and Karl Rove. And as Bloomberg reported, the event was shrouded in secrecy and drenched in influence:
Campaign finance advocates say the unique level of access given to wealthy donors by the campaign illustrates the failures of current federal election rules. Hotel security closed off meeting rooms during the weekend, refusing to allow journalists any closer than the sidewalk outside the hotel.
Even ignoring some of the more ridiculous portions of the retreat (Olympic skiers flying off massive ski jumps into a swimming pool), the spectacle was a great example of the absurdity of the current money-saturated system. Karl Rove, head of the big-money conservative group Crossroads GPS, sat on a “media insight panel” at the event, raising questions about the separation of candidates, super PACs and so-called “social welfare” organizations.
Under campaign finance law, candidates can’t directly solicit money for outside organizations. In the post-Citizens United era, as long as the candidate leaves the room before donors are asked for money, it’s kosher. And who enforces this law at secret closed-door retreats? No one knows. Karl Rove’s presence at the retreat, filled with millionaires there to schmooze with government officials, raises some very serious questions.
Private meetings of rich donors who can give millions of dollars in secret to influence elections are more than just undemocratic. They lead to corruption and give the wealthiest individuals unfair access to government.
The recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Montana’s century-old ban on corporate contributions without a hearing further degrades commonsense protections of the political system, and will lead to more secret fundraisers, more backroom deals, and more corruption of the American political system.
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