McConnell: Obama attempting 'Nixonian' intimidation of conservative donors


“What they’re trying to do is intimidate donors to outside groups that are critical of the administration, McConnell said. "The campaign has rifled through donors' divorce records. They’ve got the IRS, the SEC and other agencies going after contributors trying to frighten people and intimidate them out of exercising their rights to participate in the American political discourse, which is being done these days by a lot of different groups, and no longer are they all on the political left. Now there’s more balance to it. Of course, the temptation of anybody in power is to try to silence your critics."

The Senate minority leader also seized on remarks by Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, who suggested this week that in a second term, the Obama administration would look at campaign finance reform in light of dramatic new super-PAC spending.

"The president’s chief political adviser David Axelrod said yesterday the president even wanted to amend the First Amendment for the first time in history to make it possible for the government to determine who gets to speak and who doesn’t," McConnell said.

The Kentucky lawmaker said that legislative challenges to the Citizens United ruling, which allowed for unlimited contributions to certain outside groups that could spend on political elections, as long as they do not directly coordinate with candidates, would undermine core constitutional principles.

“They would carve a niche out of the First Amendment saying that it’s possible now for the government to control political speech; Citizens United and other campaign finance decisions have made it clear that the government doesn’t have the power under the First Amendment to determine not only what we say but how much we say it. So they can’t control the spending — it promotes speech," McConnell said.

The minority leader went on to say that the alleged intimidation by the Obama administration was unprecedented in the post-Watergate era.

“Yeah, it's really quite Nixonian," McConnell said. "I think you'd have to go back to Richard Nixon to find the last time you had group of people both through the campaign and through the power of the fed government really trying to harass and silence critics, and I think they need to be called on it and that's what I'm going to be talking about tomorrow in a fairly major address.”

The Republican leader also said Democratic proposals on the Disclose Act were hypocritical, since they contained exceptions for labor unions that traditionally give heavily to the left.

“Well, of course if you contribute to a candidate or to a party it's already disclosed, but the purpose of trying to disclose to outside groups is to bring the power of the government down on them and to intimidate them out of the process, and interestingly enough ... this particular bill has a nice carve-out that eliminates the provisions so they don’t apply to labor unions," McConnell said.