Campaign

Sanders calls for DNC to ban on super PAC money in Democratic primaries

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) arrives at a Senate Committee on the Budget during a hearing entitled ‘Should Taxpayer Dollars Go to Companies that Violate Labor Laws?’ in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 5, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) arrives at a Senate Committee on the Budget during a hearing entitled ‘Should Taxpayer Dollars Go to Companies that Violate Labor Laws?’ in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is calling on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to ban super PAC money from the party’s primaries.

In a letter to DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, Sanders said that party leaders have failed to live up to their own values by refusing to condemn “the many millions of dollars in dark money being spent by super PACs that are now attempting to buy Democratic primaries.”

“The goal of this billionaire funded effort is to crush the candidacies of a number of progressive women of color who are running for Congress,” he wrote.

Sanders urged the DNC to publicly denounce super PAC money in Democratic primaries and consider disciplinary action for any candidate who bucks the party line on the issue.

“I am writing to you today to demand that the Democratic National Committee make it clear that super PAC money is not welcome in Democratic primaries,” Sanders wrote. “I believe the Party should make a public statement about our values and simultaneously consider actions that punish candidates who refuse to adhere to this principle.” 

“Let Democratic candidates compete with each other based on their ideas and grassroots support, not on the kind of billionaire super PAC money they can attract. Let us try to create a Democratic Party which is truly democratic.” 

Sanders’s letter comes amid an onslaught of spending by super PACs seeking to defeat progressive Democrats in primaries across the country. 

In Pennsylvania’s new Pittsburgh-based 12th District, for instance, the United Democracy Project, a super PAC aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has spent more than $2 million to oppose state Rep. Summer Lee (D), who has the backing of some of the progressive movement’s biggest stars, including Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The United Democracy Project is also spending heavily in the Democratic primary in Texas’s 28th District, where progressive Jessica Cisneros is seeking to unseat moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Sanders’s anti-super PAC stance isn’t new. He’s long railed against the influence of wealthy donors in politics and has publicly went on the attack against AIPAC, the United Democracy Project and another pro-Israel super PAC, the Democratic Majority for Israel. 

His letter on Tuesday marks his latest effort to put pressure on Democratic leaders to tackle the issue more directly. Writing to Harrison, Sanders applauded the party’s condemnation of GOP-aligned super PACs but said that the DNC had so far ignored the same behavior within its own ranks.

“A super PAC is a super PAC, whether it is funded by Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires. Dark money is dark money, whether it is funded by Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires,” Sanders wrote. “There is no question but that the continuation of super PAC money in Democratic primaries will demoralize the Democratic base and alienate potential Democratic voters from the political process.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Democratic National Committee DNC Jaime Harrison Politics of the United States

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