“Reformers” stomp on “reformer”

President-elect Obama has, throughout his political career, said many of the things that the so-called "reform" community demanded – for taxpayer-funded political campaigns, against lobbyists, against independent organizations running ads during campaign season, and so forth.

At the same time, Obama has adopted what some might call a "pragmatic" streak when it comes to his own campaign. By rejecting taxpayer funding and instead relying on the private, voluntary contributions of fellow citizens, he broke from the "reform" orthodoxy, and may have persuaded some number of "reformers" to abandon their support for this ill-conceived and poorly-designed welfare for politicians scheme. Former Senator Bob Kerrey, for one, is clearly having second thoughts, which is especially notable given that he serves as honorary chairman of a group that advocates for taxpayer-funded elections.

It seems a fair assumption that Obama does not feel the least bit "corrupted" by the $600 hundred million or so that he raised, even though large amounts of his money were brought in through bundlers raising $50,000, $100,000, or more. To the "reform" community, of course, volunteers who bring in big bucks are the very essence of "corruption."

Bloomberg.com today has a story revealing that several of the Obama campaign’s volunteer fundraisers are serving on his transition team. In response to this, Public Citizen’s Craig Holman all but accuses the Obama team of selling out: "If an Obama administration is going to sell influence, these are the ones who have bought it."

Nice. Hopefully, President-elect Obama’s pragmatic streak will resurface and he will understand that, quite simply, the "reform" community is not his friend, and will do everything it can to tarnish his every action (or lack of action) by connecting it his bundlers and donors. Help out Detroit? Of course, look at all the labor contributions and UAW lobbyists swarming Congress. Don’t help out Detroit? Of course, look at all the contributions from private equity looking to swoop in and pick up assets in bankruptcy.

If anyone in the Obama team reads this site (and I have a hunch at least one does), I hope they’ll pass along to him the very obvious lesson here, and persuade him to abandon whatever thoughts he may have of enacting a "reform" agenda.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.