Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation today, former Bush advisor Karl Rove defended “flooding our politics with money from people who don’t want people to know they’ve contributed,” as host Bob Schieffer put it, saying his Crossroads GPS group and other conservative organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have a right to spend unlimited amounts of money on this year’s elections without disclosing their donors. The network of special interest groups led by Rove is expecting to raise $250 million to influence this years’ elections, almost all of it from millionaires and billionaires.
But as ThinkProgress reported last week, Rove sang a different tune in 2004 when he said, “I’m against all the 527 ads and activities,” referring to a tax designation of some outside political groups, including his own American Crossroads. “I don’t think they’re fair. I don’t think it’s appropriate. They’re misusing the law. They all ought to stop,” he said at the time. Today, Schieffer confronted Rove with the video ThinkProgress highlighted, asking him, “so why is it that if they were so bad back then that they’re so wholesome now?” Watch it:
Rove responded by saying “I wish we had a different system,” but that his group and the others were merely a response to the “liberal groups” which “have been using undisclosed money for years and years and years and years,” he said, pointing to unions. But as Schieffer and others have noted, unions’ memberships and agendas are well known and public, while the agenda and motives of Rove’s wealthy donors are unclear and hidden. Moreover, Rove ignored the fact that President Obama took a strong stance against secretive outside groups supporting his 2008 campaign, marginalizing Democrat-aligned groups.
But when Scheiffer asked Rove — who at that point had stated that we need “a different system” at least three times — whether he would commit to working towards a stronger campaign finance regime, Rove dodged, declining to commit to anything or say what a “new system” might entail:
SCHEIFFER: If you feel so strongly about it would you pledge this morning that you’ll work to have new campaign laws where we make all of these contributions transparent and we’ll know who is giving them?
ROVE: I’m for a new system, Bob. I’m focused on 2010. Right now I’m focused on trying to level the playing field. When you have an organization that spends $87 million. It’s announced it’s spending $87 million. We’re the big player but we don’t like to boast about it. That’s the amount of disclosure. We’ve tolerated this for decades. The system may need something else.
Rove did pledge, however, that his groups will act as a conduit for billionaires to secretly funnel money into American politics for years to come, saying his Crossroads groups will “serve as a permanent counterweight to the activities of the labor unions and these liberal groups.”