Money and Democracy

Published — February 22, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Anti-super PAC governor gives to super PAC

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick gives to Democratic outside spending group


Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has called the Supreme Court decision that created super PACs “wrong” and in need of fixing, but that didn’t stop him from sending money to one of these new groups.

On Jan. 25, just days after the two-year anniversary of the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, Patrick donated $500 to the Democratic Governors Association’s super PAC, “DGA Action,” records show.

The Citizens United ruling held that corporations and unions can spend their treasury funds on political advertisements expressly advocating for or against federal candidates. Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions and spend the money on ads – so long as they act independently of candidates and their campaigns.

Last year, several Massachusetts lawmakers introduced a resolution that says the Citizens United ruling “presents a serious and direct threat to our democracy” and calls on Congress to “pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people.”

When Patrick was recently asked by the media whether he would support the resolution, he replied, “Well, if you’re asking me do I think the Citizens United decision was wrong and needs to be fixed, the answer to that is, yes.”

Alex Goldstein, executive director of Patrick’s state political committee and federal political action committee, told iWatch News that Patrick continues to be concerned about the influence of money in politics, especially “the role of unidentified corporate money.”

Goldstein sounded a familiar Democratic refrain, saying that his party “cannot unilaterally disarm in the face of unprecedented spending by Republicans to defeat the president and other Democrats across the country.”

It remains to be seen how the electorate will view this about face.

“Hypocrisy is the lifeblood of politics,” said Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

“Public officials have a set of positions and beliefs, but they’re often unwilling to let them interfere with the real world of politics,” he continued. “Gov. Patrick has just demonstrated this principle, or lack of it, for all to see.”

Patrick is the first sitting governor to personally donate to the super PAC, which has already produced several online ads and emails supporting President Barack Obama and criticizing the GOP presidential hopefuls.

The DGA’s super PAC has raised about $182,000 since its inception last October and ended January with about $81,500 cash on hand.

Notably, Patrick is not the only public official to directly contribute to a super PAC. In October, Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor of California, donated $500 to “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” the super PAC run by comedian Stephen Colbert.

Patrick is also not the only public official to change his tune about super PACs.

Obama recently gave his blessing to the Democratic super PACs, with the campaign noting that several campaign aides and even Cabinet members could be involved with events designed to raise money for the financially struggling groups, as iWatch News previously reported.

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