Call them the Center for American Hypocrisy.
The Citzens United vs. Federal Elections Commission ruling that struck down some parts of the censorious McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in 2010 created a firestorm of scorn from the left. Of course, that includes institutional left warhourse The Center for America Progress, founded by former Clinton White Chief of Staff and Obama transition team leader John Podesta.
So in 2012, the Center for American Progress hosted an event called Citizens United Two Later about the threat to democracy posed by the ruling. In the opening remarks they explained the big danger was raising huge amounts of money from corporations without having to discose the source. They explained:
A super PAC is a political action committee that, although it can’t coordinate directly with a political campaign, can raise unlimited sums from corporations and have lax donor disclosure requirements.
Well, they ought to know.
As The Nation pointed out in an article that decimates CAP:
After growing rapidly in its first few years, tax records show, CAP’s total assets fell in 2006 for the first time, from $23.6 million to $20.4 million. Assets started growing again in 2007 when CAP founded the Business Alliance, a membership rewards program for corporate contributors, and then exploded when Obama was elected in 2008. According to its most recent nonprofit tax filing, CAP’s total assets now top $44 million, and its Action Fund treasury holds $6 million more.
A confidential CAP donor pitch I obtained describes the Business Alliance as “a channel for engagement with the corporate community” that provides “the opportunity to…collaborate on common interests.” It offers three membership levels, with the perks to top donors ($100,000 and up) including private meetings with CAP experts and executives, round-table discussions with “Hill and national leaders,” and briefings on CAP reports “relevant to your unique interests.”
Corporate donations were part of the haul. The Huffington Post confirmed that Center for America’s Progress take nearly doubled after Obama’s election, which was of course before the Citizens United ruling. Ryan Grim at HuffPo writes:
CAP does not publicly disclose its donors, but the fundraising numbers were provided to HuffPost by a CAP source and confirmed by Tanden.
The biggest shift came between 2008 and 2009, the year that the Democrats took over the White House and CAP sent many of its senior staffers into positions of authority there. CAP founder John Podesta headed the transition. Philanthropic foundation giving jumped from just under $7 million in 2008 to $17 million in 2009. That increase represented almost the entire financial growth of the organization over that period, as total funding rose from $28 million in 2008 to $38 million in 2009.
And were these philanthropists being philanthropic? That seems doubtful. As HuffPost says:
Hold it a minute; big money foundations have moved to fund communications efforts? That’s exactly what Citizens United was fighting for: free speech.
Don’t expect intellectual consistency from the left, of couse. They love shouting and chanting about how Corporations are not people! but remain mute as to whether unions are people or whether large leftist foundations are people because it’s pretty clear that groups of people are made up of people.
Don’t expect hear that simple truth from the Center for American Progress or John Podesta, however. They are too busy cashing those giant checks.