Attention reporters: Tim Kaine knows how you can become the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein.
The Democratic National Committee chairman told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast today that the plethora of outside group spending this election, much of it funded anonymously, could become one of the biggest political stories in years.
“I think this is a huge story,” he said. “It might end up being, I’m not in this business, but it [could] end up being one of the biggest political process stories since Watergate as we see this trend toward funding campaigns through non-reportable entities.”
President Obama and other prominent Democrats have made spending by outside groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, a major part of their argument against Republicans less than a month before the election.
The outside groups, whose presence on the electoral battleground this year has been a major boost to GOP candidates nationwide, are not required to report the names of their donors if they designate themselves as a tax-exempt 501(c)4 group.
Obama in particular has said this anonymity has allowed special interests to inappropriately influence the election as he tries to rally the Democratic base to turn out at the polls November 2.
Kaine said that, since Watergate, American politics has fostered a far more open and transparent political process with no repercussions. But that progress has been threatened this election because of a concerted effort by Republicans and big business allies that oppose the president’s agenda, he said.
“I think this poses very significant challenges to the democracy we have,” the chairman said.
Some of the groups in Democrats’ sights beg to differ.
“We are seeing an attempt to demonize specific groups and distract Americans from a failed economic agenda. … The Chamber will stay focused on representing and advocating an agenda of economic growth and speaking out against policies that are counter to those objectives,” said Bruce Josten, executive vice president for Government Affairs at the Chamber.
There has also been a chilly reception from much of the media to the Democratic line, with some journalists questioning why the party thinks this argument is the best one they can make in a year where it likely faces heavy losses in the House and Senate.
Reporters, most notably CBS’s “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer, have also questioned Obama’s assertion that some of the organizations are using foreign money to fund their campaign ads.
Kaine reiterated the concerns that groups like the Chamber are using foreign money to fund its campaign ads.
“You say you keep it separate,” he said. “Well, prove it.”
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