February 7, 2012

Pro-Obama Super PAC Co-Founder In 2008: People Should Donate To Obama, Not Outside Groups

2008's Bill Burton would disagree with 2012's Bill Burton about electoral spending by outside groups.

President Obama’s campaign announced late yesterday that it would be encouraging supporters to financially support the Priorities USA Action Super PAC, breaking with previous criticism of Super PACs.

The co-founder and senior strategist of Priorities USA Action is former Obama White House aide Bill Burton. Burton has enthusiastically helped lead the organization since its founding in early 2011, and has been a rigorous fundraiser for the Super PAC.

Yet Burton wasn’t always so comfortable with raising unlimited amounts of dollars for outside groups to intervene in the election. In 2008, he served as then-candidate Obama’s press secretary. He encouraged Obama donors to donate directly to the candidate and not support outside groups:

Mr. Obama’s campaign says it has taken pains to discourage these [outside group] efforts on its behalf, and in fact the campaign has no recourse in controlling them. “We do not think people should be donating to 527s,” said Bill Burton, a campaign spokesman. “We would rather have them involved in our campaign. It is our hope that anyone who supports Obama does so directly through his campaign and not through these outside groups.”

What changed between 2008 and 2012 to transform Bill Burton from Super PAC scold to Super PAC supervisor?  Maybe the former Obama aide had a personal change of heart about the role of money in politics, and decided that big money from outside groups should dominate our electoral system after all.  Perhaps top Obama advisors were shocked and dismayed to see Burton betray his former stance, but it looks like they’ve come around now.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately President Obama has repeatedly shown us that he is just another politician. It started to become clear with his betrayal of the ‘public option’ for healthcare. Many examples since. Now we have the corporate personhood and Superpac obscenities which he decries out of one side of his mouth and seemingly supports out the other. It’s a shame, I had such high hopes for him.

    Now, out of the other side of my mouth…President Obama would certainly lose the election if he did not dip into the Big Money PiggyPacs. We should watch closely as the election goes on and find out who and what is really backing his Presidency.

    He should have helped us become aware of the corporate personhood issue (didn’t hear a word on it until the infamous ‘shake of the finger’ at the first State of the Union speech). He should have led an effort to stop it, and he should have asked us civilians to help him stop it before it happened. He has the voice…we do not.

  • True Sue

    It’s unfortunate that the Administration has to stoop to the level of Republicans. As supporter I would have much preferred a continuation of the “donate to the Candidate” approach. They could probably ameliorate some of the criticism by disclosing all of those who contribute to the SUPERPAC. As much as I hate the idea of what he’s done, I can’t help but understand why they’re doing it. I doubt that they could have competed with the super-rich republicans, by just asking for direct contributions. Sad, but unfortunately true in this case.

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