Chris Van Hollen: King of Dark Money
It’s typical for Democrats to attack Republicans on issues regarding outside spending. It’s also typical that their attacks are merely white lies that cover up certain aspects of their own fundraising.
In a fundraising email to donors on Friday, Van Hollen wrote:
We recently confirmed that, in addition to support from the NRA and the founder of the notorious Citizens United, my opponent is now being helped by one of the offspring of the Citizens United decision — a shadowy dark money organization that refuses to disclose its donors is now spending secret money to elect my opponent.
That’s sadly the way big money has been used to buy elections. And that’s why we must be ready for anything.
Now of course there are a few factual, shall we say, “inconsistencies” with Van Hollen’s claim.
- The claim that anybody “now spending secret money to elect my opponent” is just inaccurate. Nobody is spending any money on this race right now. That’s easily searchable. But….
- …even if they were, the groups in question have to disclose their donors. Van Hollen knows this, but claimed they don’t anyway.
Now of course if Van Hollen really wants to talk about the use of outside groups, we can do that very easily. Because Van Hollen wouldn’t even be in the general election without them:
- Since running for Congress for the first time in 2002, Van Hollen has raked in more than$22.8 Million in donations, with lawyers and lobbyists as his #1 donors;
- Van Hollen has personally accepted more than $5.6 Million from PACs during his Congressional career;
- A Super PAC (the same type that he claims to deride) spent nearly $1 million on TV ads on Van Hollen’s behalf to help him get through this year’s primary against Donna Edwards;
- Van Hollen accepted $710,000 from Wall Street; the 10th most of any member of Congress;
- Van Hollen’s Leadership PAC allows special interest groups and PACs to donate money in excess of current campaign finance limits. This is money that he then spends to curry favor with others;
- Van Hollen raised $340 Million while chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Van Hollen’s attempts to paint himself as the underdog against a better-financed Republican candidate is cute. Except it’s a patently absurd premise, especially given his fundraising background as a member of Congress and leads one to wonder if Chris Van Hollen’s polls are telling him something about his matchup against Delegate Kathy Szeliga that public polls are not.
He can tell all of the white lies in fundraising emails that he wants. But as it turns out, Chris Van Hollen is the real king of shadowy money in Maryland.