Abigail Spanberger won’t take money from corporate political action committees but will from ideological political action committees because the issue PACs have their position statements on their web pages.
Spanberger said that Friday to a business organization that donates no political money, Virginia FREE, but there were plenty of big donors or their representatives in the room. Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch was there but didn’t really cover her remarks, other than to note she didn’t mention President Donald Trump (so he kindly did that for her.)
Continuing an argument I have made before, Spanberger’s careful tiptoe through this minefield is additional evidence of the powerful corrupting nature of our campaign finance system. She tried to put a nice spin on her position that business money is too tainted to accept, blaming that in large part on voter perception. When “face to face with voters” she hears that in Virginia corporate money has too much influence.
Here is what she says on her campaign web page: “As we’ve increasingly dealt with the effects of special interests in campaign finance, it’s important that all elected officials take a stand against letting a small group of funders influence our elections. And because my commitment to campaign finance reform starts now, with my campaign, I will not accept any corporate PAC donations.”
Federal election rules have caps on donations that reformers at the Virginia state level can only dream about. Corporations cannot write checks directly but must set up political action committees collecting funds from employees using the same strict limits. She is probably correct however that the average voter has no clue about that.
In response to a line of questions from Virginia FREE director Chris Saxman she said hers was really a “a pro-business stance” because it allows her to meet with business leaders and lobbyists with no talk of money. It’s “taken off the table.”
But then Saxman asked her about all the groups she does take money from. Business PACs are only a subset of the giving world. Special interests abound on all sides. That’s when she said a big difference is those groups have their agendas on full and open display, but with a company “I can’t go to their website and see what those priorities are.”