George Clooney pointed out on Meet The Press that the overwhelming majority of the money that his fundraisers with Hillary Clinton are bringing in is going to Democrats down ballot, not Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
You know, it was interesting. We caught, our camera caught you having a conversation with the protesters last night. What did you say to them?
Well, it was a funny thing. I went over to try to talk to them and you said I was some corporate shill which, you know, me that’s one of the funnier things you could say about me. And then he just said, you know, “You sucked as Batman.” And I was like, “Well, you kind of got me on that one.”
And then I walked away and that was basically it. But, you know, I think what’s important and what I think the Clinton campaign has not been very good at explaining is this and this is the truth: the overwhelming amount of money that we’re raising, and it is a lot, but the overwhelming amount of the money that we’re raising, is not going to Hillary to run for President, it’s going to the down-ticket.
It’s going to the congressmen and senators to try to take back Congress. And the reason that’s important and the reason it’s important to me is because we need, I’m a Democrat so if you’re a Republican, you’re going to disagree but we need to take the senate back because we need to confirm the Supreme Court justice because that fifth vote on the Supreme Court can overturn Citizens United and get this obscene, ridiculous amount of money out so I never have to do a fundraiser again. And that’s why I’m doing it.
So you don’t enjoy doing these fundraisers?
No, I don’t think anybody does. I don’t even think politicians do. You know, I’m sure you’ve covered them before. It’s not the most fun thing to do. You know, I spend probably a quarter of my time now raising millions and millions of dollars to fund my foundation which is basically chasing and looking for money that these corrupt politicians all around the world are hiding.
The Panama papers have been actually incredibly helpful. We have forensic accountants so this is all a very big part of things that are important to me. I really want Citizens United. I think it’s the worst, one of the worst laws passed, since I’ve been around.
George Clooney seems to have a better grasp on the realities of our current campaign finance system than many of the protesters. Clooney is trying to raise money to help Democrats win seats in the House and take back the Senate. The actor gets it. Electing a president is not enough. America will need a Democratic Congress to go with a Democratic president.
Since Citizens United, there have been two competing schools of thought within the left. Some Democrats have argued that, as Clooney said, in order to beat the corrupt dark money in politics system it must be destroyed from within. The rationale is that without controlling the levers of power, Democrats won’t be able to change the system. There is some merit to this argument. The Republican-controlled Congress has demonstrated how willing Republicans are to ignore the will of the people.
If Democrats don’t win the presidential election, they won’t get to see the next Supreme Court justice that could be the vote to overturn Citizen United seated. If Democrats don’t take back the House and get 60 votes in the Senate, there will never be a new piece of legislation that strengthens the campaign finance laws passed in Congress.
The other side of the coin is the argument that a corrupt campaign finance system can’t be changed by those who participate in it. This is the argument that Bernie Sanders and many progressive activists make. Sanders has demonstrated an amazing ability to be competitive in a presidential primary by raising money through small individual donations, but there are questions concerning the limitations to the small donor system. Would Bernie Sanders be able to raise the billions of dollars needed for a general election only with small donors? So far, no one has been brave enough to find out.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter which method one prefers, outside of Republicans, there is a great deal of consensus that Citizens United has to got to go.
With both Democratic candidates on record supporting the overturning of Citizens United, the country has never been closer to getting reversing the disgraceful Supreme Court decision. However, getting rid of Citizens United is just the first step in fixing the campaign finance system. A less corrupt system should not be the end. The goal should be a system of publicly funded elections that takes the power away from the wealthy and special interests, and hands it back to the people.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association