Following Joe Biden’s money

The role that money plays in US elections is obscene. As a result, the strength of a campaign is not only measured in terms of poll numbers but also in terms of how much money is raised and spent by each candidate, which in turn influences the polls.

The Biden campaign is currently in a little bit of financial trouble in that the amount of money it has in hand is far less than that of his main rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, even though the contributors to the Biden campaign are big money contributors. As a consequence, despite his vow not to take money from lobbyists and Super PACs, his wealthy supporters and lobbyists are forming a Super PAC to fund his campaign, as Lee Fang reports, funded by wealthy people who are concerned about people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren winning the nomination and (Oh, the horror!) even the presidency.

In an effort to revive Biden’s prospects, prominent supporters of the former vice president are mobilizing to establish a Super PAC, a bid that the Biden campaign appeared to endorse on Thursday, according to a report in Bloomberg. The move represents a reversal from earlier this year, when Biden rejected support from Super PACs, which can receive unlimited donations from corporations or individuals.

Though Biden has pledged not to take contributions from registered lobbyists, the prohibition appears not to apply to big-dollar organizers of his Super PAC. Among the individuals involved with the effort are several lobbyists for leading corporations and foreign governments.

As The Intercept has reported, despite Biden’s promise to reject lobbyist money, his campaign launched with a fundraiser hosted at the home of Comcast’s chief lobbyist, and his political action committee has a long record of accepting lobbyist cash.

But this time may be different. Bernard Schwartz, a wealthy financier who has organized dinners with prominent centrist Democrats in order to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., from gaining the Democratic nomination, is reportedly in talks to fund the new Super PAC. Schwartz is known for deep-pocketed donations. In 2016 alone, Schwartz, through his foundation, gave $1 million to Third Way, a centrist group backed by corporate donors that has vigorously opposed Medicare for All and other ideas centered on tackling economic inequality.

Biden himself in 2007 pointed out the corrosive effect in politics of big money contributions, how it buys access.

“It’s human nature. If you, Lynn, bundle $250,000 for me, all legal, and then you call me after I’m elected and say, ‘Joe, I’d like to talk to you about something. You didn’t buy me. But it’s human nature, you helped me, I’m going to say, ‘Sure, Lynn, come on in,'” he explained.

“The front of the line is always filled with people whose pockets are filled,” said Biden.

Perhaps aware of how this looks, Biden is holding a big money fundraiser in Pittsburgh next month that his campaign has not publicized.

Biden entered the race pledging not to take money from lobbyists, but has held numerous fundraisers with them. He pledged not to take fossil fuel money, but recently held a fundraiser in New York hosted by a fossil fuel executive. And last week, Biden’s campaign reversed its pledge to reject money from super PACs, appearing to endorse a move by several of his prominent supporters to mobilize to establish a political action committee, Bloomberg reported.

Several of the hosts have a history of giving to Republican candidates for president and Congress, and to the Republican campaign arms of both the Senate and House, and to the Republican National Committee. Many of them also gave to Democratic candidates and campaign committees.

Pearls Before Swine has had many strips on the theme of how corrupting big money is on elections, such as this one.

Also this.

And this.

And this.


  1. says

    What I love is how the media and political organizations constantly report on how much money which candidate brought in -- and then they turn around and swear that money has no effect on politics.

  2. wsierichs says

    I long ago figured out that the Citizens United decision can be reduced to five words: One dollar equals one vote.

    I know it’s more complex than that, as the dollars have to be spent on propaganda for/against a candidate and often wining/dining a favored candidate, but bribes -- I mean campaign contributions -- work often enough that the wealthy treat them as one of the routine costs of life, like buying TV channels, not a big-ticket item like a house/car/boat etc. The “contributions” are pocket change to the very wealthy.

  3. lanir says

    The Biden campaign sounds pretty desperate. And this is how the democratic establishment thinks he’s going to win in the general election?

    Last cycle a clown with speech problems won with nothing more than fear of immigrants (in a country almost entirely made of immigrants) and interspersing a few easy to remember tag lines like “lock her up,” and “drain the swamp” into what was otherwise largely incoherent rambling. He was the only candidate with a position on every side of any important issue. Since the simplistic anti-corruption side of the clown campaign gave cover for the racism of the other half, it was arguably the most vital position he took a stand on. And it won him the White House.

    Now the old guy who was voted “most electable” by more batty rich people than you can swing a stick at* has said one thing and done another. The attack ads write themselves. Is this supposed to work or are these yahoos secretly Trump fans?

    * Zero for most people because unless you’re also rich, swinging a stick at a rich person will likely have serious life-altering consequences.

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