Even the Guy With the $100 Million Super-PAC Says Campaign Finance Is Broken

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/23818026853/in/photolist-ChHBzp-ChAsrQ-CMYYJG-ChHzYZ-D5xamf-CMYVL7-Df73Sr-DftfL9-ChHtXa-DNRDUc-uo5TFE-6RG9jT-qZyCRx-q3yPGu-qmnMWn-rJL2we-C7jUoh-q5YVsh-D2oJP1-DiT82s-Dtvh78-Cw7pjZ-DtuoWn-CvW6Xq-Cw3tuF-D2kms3-Cw2MP8-Dr6Ksb-DiW33y-Drax6j-Dtqxf4-CvYGxU-Cw3Lyk-D2m7UE-D2moPA-D2nbwh-CUVTwv-Cw4cSg-CUVbEF-oaPSZz-o71jPh-q9XiaL-qDEWdG-qWxJew-ob6Tfb-pC8fXq-qz5p6p-CFAWtP-qzywuM-tw8QHm">Marc N0zell</a>/Flickr


You can’t avoid campaign finance reform in the run-up to Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. It feels a little weird to type that, given the continuous series of setbacks reformers have suffered on that issue over the last decade, but it’s true. Talk to anyone at a Bernie Sanders rally and it’s the first thing that comes up; on the Republican side, Donald Trump has made his lack of big donors a centerpiece of his campaign.

Even Jeb Bush, whose $100-million super-PAC, Right to Rise, is blanketing the airwaves here in the Granite State (and has a spin-off dark-money group, Right to Rise Policy Solutions), says something needs to be done. Taking questions at a Nashua Rotary Club on Monday afternoon, Bush told voters that it will take a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and stop the glut of dark money entering the political process:

The ideal thing would be to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that allows effectively unregulated money [for] independent [groups], and regulated money for the campaigns. I would turn that on its head if I could. I think campaigns ought to be personally accountable and responsible for the money they receive. I don’t think you need to restrict it—voters will have the ability to say I’m not voting for you because [some company] gave you money. The key is to just have total transparency about the amounts of money and who gives it, and to have it with 48-hour turnaround. That would be the appropriate thing. Then a candidate will be held accountable for whatever comes to the voters through the campaign. Unfortunately the Supreme Court ruling makes that at least temporarily impossible, so it’s going to take an amendment to the Constitution.

Now, Jeb hasn’t turned into Bernie Sanders. He’d just like unlimited donations that aren’t anonymous, and he’d like whatever is disclosed to be disclosed a lot quicker. The subtext here is that while Bush is benefiting from a nonprofit that accepts anonymous unlimited donations, his backers have expressed a lot of frustration with outside groups supporting Jeb’s rival, Sen. Marco Rubio. Right to Rise chief Mike Murphy said last fall that Rubio is running a “cynical” campaign fueled by “secret dark money, maybe from one person.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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