Can’t blame your staff for your own phony “no corporate PAC” pledge, Elissa!
In case you missed it…
Jacques: Slotkin’s no corporate funds pledge is meaningless
By Ingrid Jacques
March 3, 2020
It’s becoming something of a refrain among Democratic politicians to eschew the “evils” of corporate political action committee funds. Michigan’s U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin is leading the sanctimonious chorus.
Just as the Holly Democrat did in her 2018 campaign — in which she successfully unseated two-term GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop in the 8th District — Slotkin is making sure her constituents know she won’t be taking those corporate PAC funds, thus insulating herself from undue influence.
That sounds nice on the campaign trail, but it doesn’t ring true when you look at the record spending that helped Slotkin gain her seat. That race totaled $28.3 million, making it the most expensive U.S. House race in Michigan history, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
That free-flowing money may not have technically come from business PACs, but it came from plenty of other sources with corporate ties. Even if candidates don’t accept money directly from corporate PACs, they don’t usually mind when individual executives donate to their campaigns.
Corporate money also flows through leadership PACs formed by federal office holders to help fellow candidates win or retain their seats.
And then there are super PACs. In Slotkin’s case, she benefited from more than $5 million in so-called independent spending, including more than $2 million from billionaire and Democratic presidential contender Mike Bloomberg’s super PAC. Outside spending doesn’t go directly to the candidate’s campaign, but it can certainly help them out. And Slotkin didn’t call for turning off that spigot of support. These groups invested more than $16 million in the race, both for and against Slotkin.
“She’s a hypocrite on this stuff,” says Stu Sandler, a Republican consultant who worked with Bishop.
As an example, Sandler notes that during Slotkin’s first campaign she criticized Bishop for accepting donations from two pharmaceutical companies that had ties to the opioid crisis, while he sat on a committee related to fighting opioid addiction.
Yet in 2017, Slotkin’s campaign received a $2,000 contribution from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s campaign. The same day, Hoyer’s fund received $2,500 from McKesson, one of the companies in question. She’s also accepted several contributions from Hoyer’s leadership PAC, funded largely by corporate cash.
If the money is still flowing, albeit indirectly, does it really make a difference whether candidates like Slotkin don’t take funds directly from these companies or get it through side channels?
Gordon Trowbridge, spokesman for Slotkin’s re-election campaign, says the congresswoman believes the current campaign finance system is broken, and that she’s working to address it in Congress and hopes to impose more transparency on “dark money” PACs. Slotkin’s also criticized the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that has “allowed virtually unlimited money to flow, from all sides, into her race and others across the country,” Trowbridge said in an email.
“Outside interests spent more than $7 million targeting her in 2018,” Trowbridge says. “They have already spent more than $1 million targeting her so far in this cycle. That’s a broken system. She believes it must change.”
While she has been the target of some negative spending, she’s also reaped the benefits of super PAC funds, as well as corporate money funneled through other means.
Trying to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.