When the buzz started that independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King was about to become the beneficiary of a $1.7 million dollar ad campaign from a super-PAC (the kind of outside money King has rightfully said is ruining our politics), Democrat Cynthia Dill should have immediately scheduled a press conference calling on King to speak forcefully against this outside influence. She should have called on King to call his close friends associated with this PAC and insist that they stop its flow. I offer the below as the text of the speech she should have given:
“Super-PACs aren’t good for Democracy because they open up elections to the highest bidder. Until today, I took Angus King at his word when he said he agreed with me. I thought when he said that Washington is broken, that he included super-PACs as part of the problem.
In fact, last June he criticized spending by out-of-state interests and challenged all of us to repudiate such tactics. While many criticized him for seeking a ban that would simply serve his campaign and help him maintain his polling and fundraising lead, I considered the move genuine. Although I was considered a heavy underdog who could only be helped by super-PAC involvement, I congratulated King on his stand and said I would agree to take his pledge. I offered a few additional ideas to strengthen the proposal and awaited his reply so we could negotiate the final agreement.
But I never heard back and perhaps now I know why. This week, King became the beneficiary of a super-PAC controlled by several multi-millionaires who have no connection to Maine but a lot of connection to him. And he has suddenly gone silent. Instead of picking up the phone to tell his state Director Eliot Cutler (apparently a former board member of the super-PAC) to demand that the ads are immediately taken off the air, he seems to be looking the other way now that his campaign is in trouble.
Not only that, it has recently been revealed that King is holding a fundraiser at the home of one of the millionaires, Michael Bloomberg, later this month. Clearly, he could easily pick up the phone himself and ask Mayor Bloomberg to pull the ads.
Instead, his spokespeople appear to have abandoned King’s earlier position. His press secretary said that because their opponents benefit from super-PACs King will not call on the PACs benefiting him to be pulled. And Cutler commented that the super-PAC ads supporting King are OK because they are saying something positive about the candidate, while the super-PAC ads against King are bad because they are attacking the candidate.
That isn’t leadership. That is politics as usual. For King to repudiate super-PACs when he doesn’t need their help, and then accept them when his campaign is on the rocks, is hypocrisy at its worst. It’s what they all say in Washington: “We don’t like it, but we have to do it.” It’s the new nuclear arms race.
As Toni Morrison said, “You can’t take down the master’s house with the master’s tools.” King’s lectures on how Washington is broken will fall on deaf ears because he is now a willing beneficiary of that same broken system.
By King’s silence, he’s shown that instead of being an independent, he’s just another politician willing to set aside his principles in order to win his election. He’s become exactly what Washington doesn’t need — another politician who says one thing and does another.
Although Super-PACs have helped to raise my standing in the polls, I have not and will not change my position simply to benefit my campaign. When a super-PAC ran an ad on my behalf this summer, I did everything I could to get them to stop. I wish King was doing the same today.”
Posted by Ethan Strimling