Friday, April 25, 2014

Will the Brennan Center Hire Lois Lerner Next?

The Brennan Center for Justice describes itself as “a nationally recognized powerhouse for research and activism in the fields of campaign finance and election reform.”  A more neutral reading would be that the Brennan Center for Justice is known for their partisan efforts on voting and their poorly sourced studies on vote fraud related issues such as voter ID.  The Brennan Center’s current and former employees while paying lip service in reality even oppose reform efforts such as those proposed by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration on topics such as list maintenance. 

A new study by the Capitol Research Center scratches the surface of these and other problems and is worth checking out.  One line from that study shocked me (emphasis added).

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU is currently headed by Michael Waldman, who served as director of speech writing for President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1999. Previously he was special assistant to the president for policy coordination from 1993 to 1995. In this role he was the top White House policy aide on campaign finance reform and claims credit for drafting the Clinton administration’s public financing proposal.

Are you kidding me?  Clinton’s top aide on campaign finance reform claiming credit and leading a group, any group, which talks about campaign finance reform is like putting Lois Lerner in charge of a group for fair treatment of 501c4 groups.  (Maybe Brennan will hire her next.) 

For those who do not remember, liberals and conservatives agree that President Clinton was one of the worst Presidents in history on campaign finance issues.  During the 1996 campaign there were so many problems that even the New York Times, which regarded this as a top issue, had to report negatively on the Clinton Administration.  Of course, the New York Times waited until November and December of 1996, after Clinton had been re-elected for the bulk of their reporting.  While the scathing and lengthy editorial taking the Clinton Administration to task on campaign finance is no longer available online, some of the reporting of it is.  Here are a few paragraphs from a typical New York Times story post the 1996 election. 

In the ornate Map Room of the White House residence, with Vice President Al Gore at his side, President Clinton assembled his most senior advisers for an important budget meeting. It was not the Federal budget that was being considered, but the budget of the Democratic National Committee.

As controversy has grown over Democratic fund raising, Mr. Clinton has sought to distinguish between the practices of his own re-election campaign and those of the Democratic committee. But the Map Room meeting is just one example of how closely the committee worked with the White House.

In the frenzy, a small group of Democratic fund-raisers and donors amassed questionable, and, in some cases unlawful, contributions, some from Asian sources, that have left the White House and the Democratic Party embroiled in controversy and facing a new round of hearings from a Republican-controlled Congress.

But this year Mr. Clinton relentlessly used all the perks and power of incumbency to raise money, according to both his aides and campaign finance experts. And White House and party officials met weekly to go over money goals and determine where the President would be needed to appear.

The Clinton Administration often talked about campaign finance reform but in reality their actions were all about winning political races for Democrats at all costs and any fundraising means.  I guess Waldman makes sense as a leader of the Brennan Center as that seems to be the Brennan Center’s mission as well.  

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