By Ian Millhiser
If campaign donations are any sign, Mitt Romney is the runaway favorite candidate of billionaires and Wall Street bankers. Indeed, Wall Street has flooded his campaign with donations and a massive 10 percent of all American billionaires donated to his campaign. So it should probably come as no surprise that, in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Romney called for the super wealthy to be able to give unlimited sums of money directly to candidates:
TODD: Do you think Citizens United was a bad decision? [...]Watch it:
ROMNEY:Well,I think the Supreme Court decision was following their interpretation of the campaign finance laws that were written by Congress. My own view is now we tried a lot of efforts to try and restrict what can be given to campaigns, we’d be a lot wiser to say you can give what you’d like to a campaign. They must report it immediately and the creation of these independent expenditure committees that have to be separate from the candidate, that’s just a bad idea.
It’s not entirely clear from this interview that Romney understands what happened in Citizens United. That decision emphatically did not follow any “interpretation of campaign finance laws that were written by Congress.” Rather, Citizens United threw out a 63 year-old federal ban on corporate money in politics. Citizens United was a case of five conservative justices deciding they knew better than America’s democratically elected representatives, and it was not a case of judges following the law.
More importantly, however, Romney’s proposal to allow wealthy donors to give candidates whatever they’d “like to a campaign” is simply an invitation to corruption. Under Romney’s proposed rule, there is nothing preventing a single billionaire from bankrolling a candidate’s entire campaign — and then expecting that candidate to do whatever the wealthy donor wants once the candidate is elected to office. Romney’s unlimited donations proposal would be a bonanza for Romney himself and the army of Wall Street bankers and billionaire donors who support him, but it is very difficult to distinguish it from legalized bribery.
As Romney himself said in 1994, when you allow special interest groups to buy and sell candidates, “that kind of relationship has an influence on the way that [those candidates are] going to vote.” Now that Romney’s running for president on the Wall Street ticket, however, he’s suddenly unconcerned with whether or not his big money donors exert a corrupting influence.