Sheldon Whitehouse confronts Amy Coney Barrett on the dark money network supporting her
It’s rare that a sitting Senator deigns to reveal the magic behind the political curtain that hides the inner workings of the machine that keeps politicians in their seat election after election.
Campaign finance has been an unusually ugly topic since the Supreme Court ruled in its Citizens United decision that corporations are people in the law’s eyes and can donate unlimited amounts of money to secretive SuperPACs, obscuring the source of the “dark money” used to subsidize the most pliable candidates who will further these donors own well-funded aims rather than work to legislate the will of those whom they are meant to represent.
Yet there was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing considering the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court conducting a master class in how special interests shove their selfish goals down the throats of the American people.
Senator Whitehouse used a series of posters with charts and graphs to illustrate to the committee and to the viewing public how the confirmation hearings were essentially a “puppet show” controlled by an anonymous group of wealthy donors who choose the nominees before the president rubber stamps their selection, fund the nominee’s publicity blitz, and pay for the legal briefs supporting right-wing objectives.
The visual aids illustrated how groups like the Federalist Society — funded in part by the Koch family and the Mercer family, two of the biggest donors to conservative causes — by creating lists of acceptably reactionary federal judicial nominees and then funding the campaigns to push their nominations through Congress.
“Something is not right around the court, and dark money has a lot to do with it,” Whitehouse explained.
Senator Whitehouse became so involved in his crucially informative presentation that he ran out of time to actually ask Judge Barrett a question during the time allotted.
Still, the Senator felt that his “dark money” presentation was especially crucial given Donald Trump’s promises to his base that he will only appoint judges who will repeal the Affordable Care Act and overturn the precedent of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision affirming women’s rights to reproductive freedom and control of their own bodies.
Whitehouse warned his colleagues that they should pay attention to Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
“Why don’t we take him at his word?” Whitehouse asked his fellow senators of the president’s stated goals.
While accepting anything that Donald Trump says at face value is an extremely risky proposition, given his astonishing record of mendacity, Whitehouse pointed to the work of outside groups supporting Barrett’s nomination as reason enough to take the president at his word when it comes to how his judicial nominees are expected to rule, noting that the Susan B. Anthony Foundation is running ads like the one below touting the Federalist Society-approved judge’s nomination as a step to getting “our pro-life country the court that it deserves.”
With this concrete example of everything that Senator Whitehouse revealed during his presentation, American citizens have all the information they need to be motivated to demand that their senators reject Trump’s nominee and allow the winner of the election, less than a month away, to pick the next nominee to the Supreme Court.
You can watch the video of Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s “dark money” presentation during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today in the clip below.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Ann Marimow at The Washington Post.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.