Sen. John McCain is making headlines for comments he made at the University of Oxford that were critical of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that further eliminated restrictions on corporate spending in elections. Here’s an excerpt of his remarks from the Huffington Post:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) continued his harsh criticism of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling this week, calling it the bench’s “worst decision ever.”
“They said money is free speech. Since when is money free speech?” McCain asked a crowd at an event put on by the Oxford Union at the University of Oxford, according to the Oxonian Globalist. “Money is money.”
McCain’s remarks are well and good.Citizens United is a horrible decision and it’s silly to say that the Koch Brothers have a First Amendment right to spend as much money as they want influencing our elections.
But the senator is being plainly hypocritical. He may be criticizing money in politics, but he’s voted against even the most minor bills to fix the problems that the Citizens United case created.
In both 2010 and 2012, McCain voted to filibuster — that means he wouldn’t even allow it to come up for a real vote — the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, which would’ve required numerous outside groups to disclose the donors behind their election spending. While this wouldn’t have solved all of the problems in money in politics, it would’ve at least let us know which billionaires and corporations were bankrolling powerful groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.
McCain also isn’t a sponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act, which would introduce voluntary public financing of all federal elections.
Yes, McCain once supported substantive campaign finance reform, and worked with then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to overhaul the campaign finance system. But that was almost a decade ago, and since then he’s courted corporate lobbyists to finance his campaigns and has failed to support even modest reforms like the DISCLOSE Act.
The media and public shouldn’t take McCain’s words seriously if he is no longer willing to back them up with action.