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Why is Obama now supporting super PACs?

President Obama has reversed himself, and is now allowing cabinet officials and senior White House advisers to raise funds for 'Priorities USA Action,' a super PAC.

By DCDecoder / February 7, 2012

President Barack Obama speaks during a fundraiser in Washington last month.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)



You might say President Obama was against "super PAC" fundraising before he was for it.

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From the very beginning, Mr. Obama castigated the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United (read the court’s opinion, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) less than a week after it was handed down. In his January 2010 State of the Union message, Obama said thus:

"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."

That ticked Justice Samuel Alito off something fierce – he was caught mouthing “not true” after the president’s 2010 State of the Union remarks – and he has joined Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia in abstaining from attending the State of the Union since that time.

So fast-forward to late Monday night, when news broke that Obama, in the words of POLITICO, offered a “reluctant blessing” for his campaign to raise money for the main – but flagging – Democratic super PAC, "Priorities USA."

(Why do we say flagging? Because Priorities raised $4.2 million in 2011 versus an astounding $51 million for its GOP rival, "American Crossroads," and nearly $18 million for a pro-Romney super PAC. More on Crossroads shortly.)

Well, there’s no such thing as a “reluctant blessing.” Either it’s blessed or it’s not.

And the Obama campaign, according to The New York Times, has given its blessing to super PAC fundraising – even if they keep a smattering of fig leaves affixed to a few sensitive spots. To wit:

"Aides said the president had signed off on a plan to dispatch cabinet officials, senior advisers at the White House, and top campaign staff members to deliver speeches on behalf of Mr. Obama at fund-raising events for Priorities USA Action, the leading Democratic 'super PAC'….

Neither the president, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., nor their wives will attend fund-raising events or solicit donations for the Democratic group. A handful of officials from the administration and the campaign will appear on behalf of Mr. Obama, aides said, but will not directly ask for money."

What’s the rationale for the turn? Crossroads and Mitt Romney’s super PAC, "Restore our Future," are on a roll.


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