Republicans Who’ve Spoken Out Against Money in Politics

Last month, Texans United to Amend set up an exhibition table at the Texas State Republican Convention in Ft. Worth (thanks to Mike Badzioch). On one of the days, I helped out. We were all glad to hear that Republican delegates shared the same concerns we had about the influence of too much money in politics. It’s hard to say what percentage of all the delegates agreed with us, but of the delegates who stopped at our table to talk, 95% of them agreed with us on the 2 issues that we discussed with them.

Besides the issue of too much money influencing our political process, the other issue we discussed with them was our belief that corporations are not people and should not have the same constitutional rights as individuals. From what I could tell, none of them had heard of a constitutional amendment to solve these 2 issues. However, those in agreement with us, did not seem adverse to a constitutional amendment.

None of this should be too surprising. Republicans and Republican leaders, past and present, have spoken out against money in politics, the Citizens United decision, and corporate personhood. Here is a sampling:

Former Senator Barry Goldwater (AZ) in 1983:
“[O]ur nation is facing a crisis of liberty if we do not control campaign expenditures. We must prove that elective office is not for sale. We must convince the public that elected officials are what James Madison intended us to be, agents of the sovereign people, not the hired hands of rich givers, or what Madison called factions.”

On another occasion, Senator Goldwater said:
“Senators and representatives, faced incessantly with the need to raise  ever more funds to fuel their campaigns, can scarcely avoid weighing every decision against the question, ‘How will this influence my fundraising?’ rather than ‘How will this influence the national interest?'”

Former Senator Warren Rudman (NH) on 2/5/2010:
“…that such a rash and immoderate ruling [Citizens United] could come from a chief justice once committed to respecting precedent, and win praise from leaders of my party, is beyond my comprehension. After the Watergate campaign finance scandal, Republicans in Congress joined with Democrats to pass far-reaching amendments to the 1971 [FECA] law, limiting contributions and campaign spending…that history of Republican leadership on campaign finance reform should remind Republicans today that it is not in our true nature to side with the moneyed interests against the interests of the American people… Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”

President Theodore Roosevelt on 8/31/1910:
“For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation. The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being. There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”

Former Governor Charles “Buddy” Roemer (LA) on 07/24/2012:
“…it is my belief that Washington DC is not just broken. It is bought, rented, leased, owned by the money givers. Special interests, the bundlers, PACs, Super PACs, lobbyists, the Wall Street bankers, the pharmaceuticals, the corporate giants, the insurance companies, organized labor, the GSE’s like Fannie and Freddie, energy companies, on and on and on and on. And this is not about one party versus the other, or about one person or another. It is about systemic and institutional corruption where the size of your check rather than the strength of your need or idea determine your place in line…”

Former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich (GA) in an exchange with Stephen Colbert on 11/13/2012:
Gingrich: “I think super PACs as such are in fact very dangerous in the long run. When you see Mayor Bloomberg put a million seven hundred thousand into a democratic district in California to beat somebody, there’s something fundamentally, profoundly wrong about what’s happening, and it’s happening in both parties and in the long run it’s going to be very negative and very destructive of our system.”…
Gingrich: “I had one billionaire, a good friend and a person who’s deeply passionate about…”
Colbert: “Great friend to have. Billionaires are some of the best friends to have.”
Gingrich: “I’d love to have had 10 or 15. Romney had about 26. It turned out 26 billionaires beat one. This was a great revelation to us. So I think Romney…”
Colbert: “That would make a great reality show: Billionaire Fight”
Gingrich: “There you go. We just had it. It was called the election.”

Senator John McCain (AZ) on 06/14/2012:
“We need a level playing field and we need to go back to the realization that Teddy Roosevelt had that we have to have a limit on the flow of money, and that corporations are not people. That’s why we have different laws that govern corporations than govern individual citizens. And so to say that corporations are people, again, flies in the face of all the traditional Supreme Court decisions that we have made — that have been made in the past.”

From Senator McCain’s 2002 memoir Worth the Fighting For:
“By the time I became a leading advocate of campaign finance reform I had come to appreciate that the public’s suspicions were not always mistaken. Money does buy access in Washington, and access increases influence that often results in benefiting the few at the expense of the many.”

David Stockman, Director U.S. Office of Budget and Management under President Reagan on 03/9/2012:
“Now we have an entitled class in this country that is far worse than, remember the ‘welfare queens’ that Ronald Reagan used to talk about? We now have an entitled class of Wall St. financiers and corporate CEOs who believe the government is there to do… whatever it takes to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward. How do we solve it? I think we can only solve it by… a Constitutional Amendment, so I don’t say this lightly, but I think we have to eliminate all contributions above $100 and get corporations out of politics entirely. Ban corporations from campaign contributions or attempting to influence elections. Now I know that runs into current ‘free speech’, so the only way around it is a Constitutional Amendment to cleanse our political system on a one-time basis from this enormously corrupting influence that has built up. And I think nothing is really going to change until we get money out of politics and do some radical things to change the way elections are financed and the way the process is influenced by organized money.”

Former Rep. Ron Paul (TX) on 8/12/2011:
Interviewer: “What did you make of Mitt Romney’s statement that corporations are people yesterday?”
Ron Paul: “Well obviously, they are not. People are individuals, they’re not groups and they’re not companies. Individuals have rights, they’re not collective. You can’t duck that. So individuals should be responsible for corporations, and they shouldn’t be a new creature so-to-speak. Rights and obligations should be always back to the individual.”

Trevor Potter, former Commissioner, Federal Election Commission on 9/21/2012:
“It seems to me that the Supreme Court majority and Citizens United ignored, essentially, a hundred years of American history, going back to date Theodore Roosevelt and his first clarion call, that big money and Wall Street not dominate the presidential election. And his urging of Congress to limit corporate contributions…so to say that the right thing to do in a democracy is have a corporation spend money in ways that will give them the most profit, never mind what happens to anyone else or the rest of the country. It is, I think, an example of why you don’t really want corporations participating directly in elections.”

“They have a very narrow interest. Which is supposed to be their shareholders. But we want voters and citizens to have a broader interest. To think about the next generation, to think about the greater good. There’s an interesting quote from the head of Exxon in a new book out on Exxon where he says, ‘Exxon is not a U.S. corporation, we do not act in the best interest of the United States.’  Well, it is a U.S. corporation, but what he meant is, they have shareholders all over the world, they have investments all over the world, and it’s not his job to do things that are good for America, it’s his job to do things that are good for his international shareholders.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) in an op-ed with Senator Ron Wyden (OR) on 12/27/2012:
“Take it from two United States senators from both sides of the aisle who have decades of experience in public life: Campaign-finance rules have a tremendous impact on the public policy agenda in Congress. Contrary to the popular perception, the prospect of getting — or not getting — a check from an individual or political action committee does not drive the typical decision on Capitol Hill. But decision-making is often colored by the prospect of facing $5 million in anonymous attacks ads if a member of Congress crosses an economically powerful interest.”

 

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3 responses to “Republicans Who’ve Spoken Out Against Money in Politics

  1. Encouraging news, and a good historical perspective. People forget that Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive president during the Progressive Era which passed anti-trust legislation and broke up some of the oligarchy.

    The problem now, though, is overcoming the GOP Establishment’s intransigence on addressing the serious issue of money in politics. Politicians of the past, and some who have recently left office, won’t be enough. This won’t get solved until a lot of current Republican officeholders come on board.

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