Politics

John McCain Goes Off on Republicans Over Ukraine

Alex Roarty
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Alex Roarty
March 13, 2014, 2:11 p.m.

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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