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Liberal hypocrisy on Bloomberg's moneyed fight for gun control

President Obama heads to Colorado today in his push for gun control – a cause NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent millions to support. Liberals who usually oppose the influence of money in politics are now praising Bloomberg. Such hypocrisy undermines their cause.

By Jonathan Zimmerman / April 3, 2013

Lynn and Chris McDonnell, parents of Newtown shooting victim Grace McDonnell, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speak at a news conference at City Hall in New York, March 21. President Obama will be in Denver today to praise Colorado's new gun law and push for national gun control.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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Bloomberg is buying another term in office! It’s an outrage!

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That’s what lots of my fellow liberals said when billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent $102 million of his own cash – about $174 per vote – to win re-election as New York mayor in 2009. And they were right. Unchecked money turns politics into a corrupt poker game, where the well-to-do get to stack the deck.

So why aren’t these same critics complaining, now that Mr. Bloomberg is showering his millions on candidates who back gun control and same-sex marriage? Because liberals like these causes, of course.

As President Obama heads to Colorado today to praise the state’s newly passed gun-control legislation and push for action in Congress, it’s worth taking a step back to look at the money in the fight. The National Rifle Association spent roughly $25 million – more than twice as much as Bloomberg did – in the 2012 elections. Liberals will argue they’re only trying to even the playing field – to fight fire with fire, using their own loaded benefactor to counter the muscle of the NRA.

But if we are truly opposed to the undue influence of money in politics, we should protest that influence in all cases – no matter who wins. If we only call for limits on campaign spending when our team is losing, then we don’t really believe in those limits at all.

There’s no question Bloomberg’s money has swayed election outcomes. In 2012, he spent more than $3.3 million to unseat Democratic gun-rights supporter Joe Baca in a California state Senate race – roughly three times three times what Mr. Baca spent himself.

Now, Bloomberg has poured about $12 million into his recently established political action committee, Independence USA, to back eight candidates around the country who have progressive platforms, including support for marriage equality, education reform, and especially gun control.

In Illinois, the PAC became a major player in the special election primary race for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old congressional seat. Bloomberg’s PAC spent more than $2 million to help defeat Democrat Debbie Halvorson, condemning her “A” rating from the NRA.

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