Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Senate Democrats Criticize Super PACs

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Sens. Charles Schumer (left) called the system of fundraising that sprung up after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling “a disaster for our democracy” today.

“This level of disclosure isn’t simply inadequate, it’s laughable,” Schumer said. The problem isn’t just super PACs, he added, but the nonprofit affiliates that many such organizations run. As an example, he pointed to the Crossroads operation launched in part by GOP operative Karl Rove, which according to news reports has raised $18 million for the super PAC known as American Crossroads and $33 million for an affiliated nonprofit known as Crossroads GPS.

“We’re unable to follow the money trail at all,” Schumer said of the millions raised and spent by Crossroads GPS and other nonprofits affiliated with super PACs. “We’re completely in the dark.”

Schumer acknowledged that Democrat-friendly groups are also operating super PACs, some of them with affiliated nonprofits. The super PAC backing President Barack Obama, Priorities USA Action, received more than $215,000 from its affiliated nonprofit, Priorities USA, recent disclosures show.

The transfer “amounts to a money-laundering scheme to hide the true sources of the money,” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, said in a statement. The watchdog group is working with Schumer and his allies to craft super PAC legislation.

“No matter who does it, the system needs to be fundamentally changed,” Schumer said. He acknowledged that no Republican Senators have stepped forward to join Democrats in pushing for reform, nor does he expect them to except in response to “public pressure.” He added, “Our Democratic majority in the Senate will spend a lot of time on this issue.”

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