Published August 21, 2004
Sen. John Kerry's numerous and inexplicable flip-flops are now common knowledge, but that hasn't stopped him from continually adding more to the list. His latest lob at the Bush campaign, in reference to questions about Mr. Kerry's military service in Vietnam raised by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is that the president is hiding behind surrogates to do his "dirty work" for him. That claim, coming from Mr. Kerry's mouth, is a breathtaking flip-flop.
Ever since President Bush signed into law the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill in March 2002, which limited soft-money contributions to political parties, money has been finding other ways to influence politics. In this presidential campaign, donations now flow to independent 527 groups instead of to campaigns and parties, where they are turned into political advertisements. And it has been Mr. Kerry, not Mr. Bush, who has benefitted most handsomely from the change.
A quick look at the top politically active 527 groups tells us why. The top two 527 committees in terms of fundraising are Media Fund and America Coming Together, which have raised a combined total of $55,032,938. Both of those groups, of course, are dedicated to defeating Mr. Bush in November. Numbers three and four on the list, the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have raised $30,310,503. Not surprisingly, the Service Employees send 89 percent of their contributions to Democrats, while the American Federation donates 98 percent. Moveon.org, a venomous anti-Bush group that once briefly displayed an ad comparing Bush to Hitler, comes in at number five, with receipts totaling $9,086,102. Then there is the (#6) New Democrat Network, which has raised $7,172,693. Finally, at number seven, is the Club for Growth, a group founded to elect fiscal conservatives. But it only raised $4,818,063, a tiny fraction of the amount that the other groups are using to pummel Mr. Bush.
Individual donors have also thrown their weight behind Mr. Kerry. Billionaire George Soros, for example, has poured $12.6 million thus far into various 527 groups seeking the defeat of Mr. Bush, including $2.5 million to Moveon.org and $5 million to America Coming Together. Peter Lewis, another prolific donor, has thrown $2,995,000 to America Coming Together and $2.5 million to Moveon.org. Stephen Bing, a controversial figure from Shangri-La Entertainment, has donated almost $7 million to America Coming Together and to the Media Fund. So when it comes to surrogates doing the "dirty work," Mr. Kerry's allies outraise Mr. Bush's hands down. But will Mr. Kerry condemn the "dirty work" of Moveon.org or America Coming Together? We won't hold our breath.
So Mr. Kerry's complaint about Mr. Bush hiding behind surrogates is yet another flip-flop. His policy seems to be that using surrogates to do the "dirty work" is alright, so long as their attacks aren't aimed at Democrats.