Tag Archives: campaign finance

Sen. Grassley weighs in on Trump-Roberts ‘feud’

Donald J. Trump is continuing to beat the drum against U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is likely to show needed restraint. I trust he’ll let the president continue his infantile tirade on matters on which he knows next to nothing.

Trump called some U.S. troops stationed overseas and continued his tirade over criticism the chief justice made about the president’s reference to an “Obama judge.” He sought to inform the president that that federal judges are “independent” and not partisan. That, of course, fell on Trump’s deaf ears.

So, then this happened: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Trump, saying that Roberts didn’t criticize President Obama when the president in 2010 “attacked” Justice Samuel Alito during a State of the Union speech.

Good job, Mr. Chairman, except you got quite wrong.

President Obama didn’t “attack” Alito; he criticized the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizens United case that opened up campaign finance to corporations, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money on political races. He stated his view that the torrent of money would further corrupt the U.S. political system.

Justice Alito famously shook his head while sitting in front of the president and muttered “not true.” Obama, I repeat, did not single any justice out . . . which is quite different from what Trump has done with the chief justice.

To be fair, Obama was wrong to criticize the court in that setting. Most of the justices were sitting in a group in the audience on Capitol Hill. Democrats in the chamber cheered the president; the justices had to take it. I said at the time — and I’ll repeat it here — that President Obama’s criticism was done in the wrong place and in the wrong setting.

There is no equivalence to be found in what Donald Trump is doing now and what Barack Obama did then. As Chief Justice Roberts, I hope he’s done commenting on this ridiculous spat that the president initiated with his ill-informed and ill-tempered remark about an “Obama judge.”

Trump’s big pile of cash … isn’t there


Donald J. Trump keeps boasting about all the money he has earned.

He keeps saying he will “self-finance” his campaign for the presidency.

Well, this is just in: Trump’s presidential campaign has $1.3 million in the bank.

Sure, that’s a lot of money to folks like me. For a presidential campaign in June? It’s pauper territory, dude.


The presumptive Republican nominee is now facing the possibility of running out of money for a campaign that it plans to wage against a heavily financed, thoroughly staffed and profoundly professional effort on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democrats’ presumed nominee.

Trump keeps telling adoring audiences that he is worth billions of dollars. He says he won’t ask for money from donors because, well, he doesn’t need it!

Actually, he does.

It is quite true that Trump won many of the primary races while being outspent by his opponents. But that was then. The here and now is quite different.

Trump waged his primary campaign by appealing to the GOP base that comprises primarily the TEA Party wing of the Republican Party. He’s now being forced to appeal to a broader audience. To reach those folks, the man needs money … that he does not have.

It’s time to start pouring some of that vast wealth of his into his bid to become president.

If he has it.

'Money is not speech'

The late President Gerald Ford chose well when he selected John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975.

The former justice today provided proof of President Ford’s wisdom.

Justice Stevens went to the Senate today and told senators that “money is not speech,” and that anonymous unlimited campaign donations harm the democratic process.

Good for you, Mr. Justice.


Stevens, in a rare appearance by a former court justice before a congressional committee, said: While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech. Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by campaign contributions and expenditures. Those financial activities should not receive precisely the same constitutional protections as speech itself. After all, campaign funds were used to finance the Watergate burglary, actions that clearly were not protected by the First Amendment.”

At issue is whether unlimited campaign donations give rich donors greater access to power than average folks, such as, you know, you and me. Stevens said “yes.”

Billionaires are giving huge amounts of money to Democrats and Republicans alike. They are hiding behind the anonymity that recent Supreme Court decisions give them.

At the very least, there needs to be full disclosure of these donations. The public needs to know who’s giving the money. Citizens deserve to understand their motives for giving it and what they perhaps expect in return for those enormous cash gifts.

A better solution would be to limit those donations to reasonable amounts.

What is so un-American about leveling the playing field and giving all interested voters a shot at influencing those who would seek to lead our country?

As the Huffington Post reports: “Recent Supreme Court rulings have permitted individuals and corporations to write unlimited checks to independent political committees, while other groups can accept cash and disclose the donors’ identities months or years later, if ever.”

Mitt Romney said famously during the 2012 Republican primary presidential campaign that “Corporations are people too.” Actually, they are not. They are juggernauts that are able to trample the political process.