This press release from the Myers campaign really seems like it's grasping at straws.
Part of what they say is true: Andre has accepted quite a bit of money from both PACs and wealthy individuals. It would be one thing to suggest that Andre is "bought" if there were something suspect about either his policies or votes. As far as I can tell, there is nothing suspect about either. So far, as the right has bitterly complained, Andre votes like the progressive Democrat he campaigns as.
There is, of course, a deeper implication. Basically, in order to avoid being susceptible to this sort of attack, you need to do one of three things: (1) You need to avoid campaigning, rhetorically and substantively, on confronting corporate excess and greed. Don't talk about it. And don't promote policies that might address it. (2) You can campaign on that platform, but have to doom yourself to running your campaign on a shoestring budget. In other words, you have to accept the fact that you are going to lose. (3) You can campaign on that platform and still be financially competitive, if you've already made millions from the very corporations you are now denouncing.
Considering those options, I really think genuinely progressive campaigns should avoid that particular angle of attack. If voters rejected out-of-hand all candidates who both took money from rich people and corporations and also advocated that those same rich people and corporations be strenuously regulated, you'd be left only with people who were either really super wealthy or didn't want to strenuously regulate rich people and corporations. I don't have a problem with super wealthy people running for office, but I don't think that the level of independence afforded by such riches ought to be required for office or somehow understood as the baseline.
I'm also not sure why it should be assumed that both taking money from PACs and advocating for the strenuous regulation of corporate greed is somehow inconsistent. When I give to a candidate, it isn't assumed that there is a direct quid pro quo. I'm not expecting that the candidate will do my bidding. I give money to a candidate because I like what they are publicly promising to enact and support. I'm certainly not saying that candidates can't and don't promise votes for campaign contributions. It happens all the time. But I fail to see the harm in accepting money from wealthy donors on the promise of a progressive agenda, if you then proceed to vigorously pursue a progressive agenda. In other words, the inconsistency voters should be concerned about is not between who candidates accept contributions from and who their policies appear to benefit. Instead, the meaningful inconsistency is between a candidate promising to pursue a progressive agenda and then failing to do so. If the Myers campaign can offer any evidence to support the latter, I'll listen, but it sounds like pretty weak sauce, indeed.
The greatest danger of unleashing that particular argument is that it spares only wealthy candidates and savages everyone else. One doesn't need to be a relatively progressive Democrat -- as Woody Myers most assuredly is -- to wield the argument. As it's put, it might just as well be used by an independently wealthy Republican to discredit a working-class Democrat who accepts labor contributions. On a broader level, this sort of argument doesn't advance progressive causes. It advances the political fortunes of individuals fortunate and wealthy enough not to need campaign contributions.
As an aside, I've always found the "return the tainted contribution" demand sort of strange. If the person giving the contribution is truly heinous, wouldn't the smart thing be to not give them their money back? If you return the money, won't they have more money to spend on their heinous agenda? I mean, if a Nazi walked up to me and handed me $100, I wouldn't piously say, "Mr. Nazi, your money isn't welcome here. Spend it on bludgeons, hand grenades, and banners instead." Hell, no. If the Nazi isn't giving me his money, he's likely to be spending it on all sorts of nasty things. As long as I'm not doing anything in return, I'm perfectly comfortable accepting the money, knowing full well that I'll spend the money in a way substantially less evil than the Nazi in question. I suppose there's an argument that candidates should give the donations from evil people to charity, but that seems to be inconsistent to me as well. If accepting "evil" money taints a candidate, why would it taint a charity any less? Alternatively, as a candidate, wouldn't I be likely to believe that my candidacy was a really good thing for my community, such that giving me money would be a charitable act? I assume most politicians view their candidacies that way.
Crossposted at BlueIndiana and Tyrion's Point.