Liberal ex-Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) is ripping President Obama's decision to embrace super-PACs.
Feingold, who co-authored landmark campaign finance legislation with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to regulate campaigns, said Obama is "dancing with the devil" by deciding to fully support Priorities USA, a Democratic political action committee.
"This is dancing with the devil. I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don’t agree, and I understand the desire to do everything possible to win," Feingold said in a statement. "But this decision will push Democrats to become corporate-lite, and will send us head-on into a battle we know we will lose, because Republicans like Mitt Romney and his friends have and will spend more money."
Super-PACs emerged after the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in the Citizens United case. In that decision, the court said Congress was wrong to impose limits on independent spending done by corporations, unions and other third parties.
By embracing the super-PACs, Feingold said Obama was embracing a decision he previously had criticized.
"The president is wrong to embrace the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of super-PACs — organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and the richest individuals, sometimes in total secrecy," Feingold said. "It’s not just bad policy; it’s also dumb strategy."
Feingold, who was defeated in his reelection bid in 2010, added that the decision would mean Democrats are embracing a losing strategy for the 2012 elections.
"Just as importantly, this corrupting tactic will gut a winning, progressive strategy. When Democrats play by Republican rules, people see our party as weak, and a false alternative to the power of rich individual and corporate interests that are increasingly dominating our government," continued Feingold, the founder of the Progressives United political action committee aimed at helping liberal candidates.
Obama's campaign team has sought to portray itself as only embracing super-PACs because of their use by Republicans. Super-PACs loyal to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been a strong force in the GOP primary fight.
Obama's reelection campaign announced its decision to support Priorities USA on Monday night.