By Jim Hightower
Back in 2010, President Obama declared: “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests.”
That was so 2010.
By 2013, the mist of corporate money has fogged over Team Obama’s commitment to such ethical niceties. For example, take a glance at all the special interests that paid $50 million for his January inaugural festivities. Except … you can’t.
While the White House pledged that it would put the names of every donor online so people could see that there’s no conflict of interest, that’s all they disclosed. Just names of individuals. There’s no info on where they live, what corporation they represent, or how much they gave.
Even the highly-skilled watchdogs of the Sunlight Foundation haven’t managed to identify 40 percent of the individuals. They’ve traced some donors back to such “powerful interests” as AT&T, Coca Cola, FedEx, and Microsoft. But they have no clue how much these special interests paid — i.e. how many presidential favors they purchased.
And now, another layer of fog has descended over the White House. The Obamacans have set up a dark-money haven called Organizing For Action (OFA), again making a show of transparency by pledging to issue quarterly lists of donors.
But the listings again won’t include the donors’ corporate identities. And why only quarterly? Why not reveal the names online the moment the checks arrive? Plus, some checks from corporate executives will be bundled, but OFA won’t disclose the corporations delivering the bundles.
OFA donors will have access to special White House briefings. But, as the Sunlight group asks, will someone who gives $50 be invited — or just those giving $50,000 and up? I think you can guess the answer.
To help oppose this sad end run around real ethics, visit SunlightFoundation.com.
Jim Hightower, a radio commentator and public speaker, is also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. He wrote this for OtherWords, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.