Hillary Clinton Claims Money Has No Influence, Then Calls For Overturning Citizens United
On Thursday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders participated in a debate in Brooklyn hosted by CNN. During the course of the debate, Clinton faced questions related to her connections to Wall Street. The issue of her Wall Street transcripts was brought up by CNN and her receiving millions of dollars from Wall Street banks was brought up by Senator Sanders.
In response to releasing transcripts of her private speeches before Wall Street executives–for which she was paid $225,000 a piece–Clinton said she was willing to release the transcripts if every single candidate running for president in either party was willing to do so. Sanders reiterated he could do so easily as he did not give any private, paid speeches to Wall Street.
But Secretary Clinton’s response to Senator Sanders’ charge of Wall Street buying influence was particularly problematic. Clinton claimed bringing up campaign contributions was an attack on both her and Obama, and that there was no evidence money had any influence on her decision making process.
“Well, make — make no mistake about it, this is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama,” Clinton said. “President Obama. You know, let me tell you why. You may not like the answer, but I’ll tell you why. President Obama had a super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank.”
She also claimed there was no evidence money had any influence on her decision-making process, saying, “So this is — this is a phony — this is a phony attack that is designed to raise questions when there is no evidence or support, to undergird the insinuation that he is putting forward in these attacks.”
Many on social media pointed out that Clinton’s flip on the bankruptcy bill was evidence that money had influenced her decision-making. But just as contradictory a point was made by Clinton herself, when she committed to overturning the Citizens United decision. She even promised to make overturning Citizens United a litmus test for appointments to the US Supreme Court, on par with reproductive rights, saying, “You know, there is no doubt that the only people that I would ever appoint to the Supreme Court are people who believe that Roe V. Wade is settled law and Citizens United needs to be overturned.”
Wait a minute though. Secretary Clinton earlier claimed the millions of dollars she has taken both personally and through campaign accounts and Super PACs from Wall street has had zero influence on her. If that is true, why does Citizens United need to be overturned? Clinton essentially argued that money in politics doesn’t matter.
As was pointed out by Glenn Greenwald, Secretary Clinton and her boosters in the Democratic Party have gone even further than the Supreme Court decision and argued that all money in politics–not just independent expenditures–is not corrupting. This argument fundamentally undermines the logic of opposition to Citizens United, perhaps even opening the door for yet-looser rules for campaign finance.
Hillary Clinton cannot have it both ways. Either money in politics is corrupting and Citizens United needs to be overturned because it threatens democracy, or a candidate can take all the money they want from special interests because money makes no difference in policymaking.