Kilmer attacks the CRomnibus rider

If you paid attention to stories about the budget Congress just passed, a budget that gave us the term “CRomnibus,” (It’s a mash up of Continuing Resolution and omnibus. Part of the budget is one and most of it is the latter. Because I think we all can agree if Congress isn’t inventing new words it’s not doing its job.) you learned that in addition to giving Wall Street a break, (“About time!” I say.) it gave national political parties access to huge swaths of money.

That second part is one U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, objected to the most. When the budget passed the house he sent a news release with the statement:

“Part of the reason Congress is held in such low esteem is that it does things like this. While I’m all for funding government, adding a provision at the last minute to a must pass bill that benefits the wealthiest donors and floods our elections with even more money undermines our democracy.”

Kilmer didn’t stop there. He offered a bill that would undo that portion of the CRomnibus. (The more you say it the less debased you feel.) “Close the Floodgates Act” got no sponsors and the Senate went home, but Kilmer said this week he will bring the bill back during the next session, which begins in January.

On Wednesday I asked him if he thought any of the 219 members of the House who voted for the CRomnibus (You see? You’re becoming assimilated.) objected to the campaign finance provision. Uh, yeah. “I have not spoken to anyone on either side of the aisle who thought this provision made sense,” he said.

That provision would increase caps on annual donations by individuals to the national political parties from $97,200 to $777,600.

That so many people would think the provision makes no sense is because no one is sitting around saying, “You what we need? More money in politics.” Well, someone might be saying it. On the right the Koch Brothers and on the left George Soros are the demons of MSNBC and Fox for saying that with their money, for example.

But someone, somewhere thought this was a good idea. Politico did two great pieces of reporting on the issue, one that explains the rationale and a second that discusses how that became part of the budget and the local roots for it.

The rationale, simply, is this: With so much money going to third-party political organizations that don’t have to limit what they can receive from donors, parties are having a tough time collecting money they use to advertise, host conventions and wage legal battles. Part of what the CRomnibus rider did was create not only new limits, but new organizations donors can fund to handle different aspects of a campaign. The parties want this, because they don’t want to cede a campaign’s message to third-party groups that they can’t coordinate with or control.

So who orchestrated this? Sounds like it was Nevada Senator and now former Majority Leader Harry Reid, employing a Seattle lawyer to make it happen.

So while most people favor reducing the money in politics by, um, changing the law to reduce money in politics, Reid and Congress just passed legislation to open up the tap for the parties, in hopes of strengthening the parties’ influence in the bigger pool of money.

Kilmer favors the first approach. He co-sponsored the Disclose Act, which would have required more financial disclosure in campaign ads. He also co-sponsored a bill proposing a constitutional amendment specifying that corporations are not people and allowing Congress to set campaign limits. Another bill he co-sponsored would allow candidates to accept public funds as long as they forego big donations.

Before any of that though, Kilmer wants to kill any encouragement to attract more money to political races. “First, do no harm,” he said Wednesday. “The American people want us to take actions to restore their faith in our democracy.”

Increasing the amount of money wealthy people can contribute to political parties, Kilmer said, is not one of those actions.

2 thoughts on “Kilmer attacks the CRomnibus rider

  1. Congressman Kilmer: do you have a mirror back in DC that you ever bother to look in? Try it sometime. I didn’t realize you were short on campaign donors/cash last time — what was it, $1.7 million? I am curious to see you anxious to turn off the spigot for other donors in political campaigns.

  2. I really hope Rep. Kilmer will bravely go forward in fighting the big money interests that now control our democracy for all intents and purposes– the paper published earlier this year by two professors, one from Princeton, the other from Northwestern, concluded that wealthy elites and big business have much impact on policymaking– while average citizens and even mass groups of ordinary citizens have almost no influence at all!

    The “Move to Amend” movement is currently trying to reverse the ideas that corporations have the same rights as individual, real people and to protect the government’s necessary ability to regulate campaign contributions to curb corrosive big money into our legislative bodies.

    Rep. Kilmer, please try to help bring back a healthy democracy that represents the interests of all the citizens, not just the 1%!
    We need you to keep trying to push back, and appreciate what you’ve tried to do this session– Thanks much, don’t give up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

(Not a trick question) What color is the pink house?