The Republican National Committee will soon hold elections to potentially replace its gaffe-prone chairman Michael Steele, and today, FreedomWorks held a forum for those vying for the job. All the candidates present — Steele was conspicuously absent — touted their fundraising ability, but Mike Duncan, a former chairman running for another term, took the opportunity to wax poetic about campaign finance. Despite the recent troubling and unprecedented explosion of money in politics, Duncan called money “the mother’s milk of politics,” and argued, “there is not enough money” in politics:
DUNCAN: Money is the mother’s milk of politics. There is not too much money in politics, there is not enough money. When you consider that we spend $7 billion in this county a year on potato chips. We spend $4 billion, a little over $4 billion, according to the National Retailer Association on Halloween — on costumes and candies.
Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, this year’s election saw a flood of money into politics, with corporations, special interests, and wealthy individuals spending like never before. Nearly $4 billion was spent on the 2010 cycle, making it the most expensive midterm in history, with more spent by outside groups this year than during all the midterms since 1990 combined. A disturbingly large portion of this was secret money spent by front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which do not have to disclose their donors. This system allows a tiny group of individuals to have an outsize impact on American democracy. For example, in August, an astonishing 91 percent of the millions American Crossroads raised came from just three billionaires. And while the Chamber claims to represent hundreds of thousands of businesses large and small, the vast majority of their funding comes from just 45 mega-corporations.
But it’s not surprising that Duncan would support this flood of special interest money in politics, as Republicans benefited most from secret money, and spent more than Democrats overall. According to a New York Times analysis, eight of the top ten outside political groups were GOP-aligned, including the top four.
However, the American people do not agree with Duncan that there should be more money in politics, especially when it comes to corporate money. A PCCC poll from last week showed that by a double-digit margin, voters would support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and once again restrict corporations from directly spending on elections. Meanwhile, a People for the American Way poll from June found that 85 percent believe that there is too much corporate money in politics. And a poll from the 2008 presidential campaign found that “Americans by 3-1 think too much money is” spent on politics.