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Kerrey challenges Fischer to oppose super PAC spending

By   /   July 17, 2012  /   News  /   12 Comments

UPDATED 3:32 p.m.

U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey is calling on his Republican opponent to join him in opposing spending by super PACs in their hotly contested race.

Kerrey sent Republican Deb Fischer a letter today asking her to oppose spending by super PACs — independent political committees that can raise unlimited money to oppose or support candidates. A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding corporations’ right to free speech opened the floodgates to unlimited super PAC spending in campaigns nationwide.

Nebraska’s Senate race is one of a handful of pivotal races that have attracted conservative super PAC attention as Republicans try to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats. American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity have spent about $2 million on ads criticizing Kerrey as a liberal New York carpetbagger. American Crossroads was founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, and Americans for Prosperity is funded by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.

The Kerrey campaign took note of a recent TV interview in which Fischer was critical of super PAC spending, saying, “It makes it difficult to run the kind of campaign I want to run when you have these outside groups come in.”

She indicated super PAC money could be better spent elsewhere, saying, “I’d like to see it spent on something that’s going to help the future of our state, that’s going to help the future of our country, on education, on public safety, on infrastructure, on helping to grow businesses.”

The Kerrey campaign pounced, sending out a press release today saying Kerrey completely agrees with Fischer and asking her to “vigorously oppose any and all such spending from now until November 6.” The two contenders in the Massachusetts Senate race agreed to try to limit super PAC ads and so far it appears to be working.

The Fischer campaign is “taking a look at the letter,” spokesman Daniel Keylin said today, noting that Fischer was traveling to Valentine and he hadn’t had a chance to consult with her. However, he noted that last week the Democratic Party began airing TV ads critical of Fischer for participating in the federal grazing rights program, which allows her ranching family to graze cattle on U.S. Forest Service land at a below-market rates. The ads call that a subsidy, contrary to her positions as a fiscal conservative.

Keylin said the Democrats plan to spend at least $400,000 on the ads and hasn’t disclosed where the money for the ads came from and Kerrey hasn’t denounced the ads attacking Fischer’s character and the ag community. He called that hypocritical of Kerrey.

“His own party is attacking her personally,” Keylin said. “And Bob has been silent.”

Vince Powers, chairman-elect of the state Democratic Party, told Nebraska Watchdog the money for the ads is coming from individual donors and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – not super PACs.

“It’ll all be disclosed,” Powers said.

Kerrey’s move today seems to contradict his comments in a recent interview with Slate, Keylin said. Kerrey seemed to be urging Democrats to stop complaining about super PACs and get in the game.

In the article, Kerrey is quoted as saying, “Progressives don’t understand power,” he said. “They tend to talk more about ‘How do we make life fair?’ And as a consequence of being concerned about fairness, they’re not in this game. They haven’t changed their behavior since Citizens United. On that playing field, they haven’t shown up — they don’t think it’s fair.”

“They don’t understand power and the importance of what power does,” he went on. “And Republicans do. They get it. They’ve been vigorous in trying to acquire it. It may be that progressives will wake up after this campaign, but there’s no evidence of it happening during this campaign, other than at the presidential level.

Keylin said this is another instance of Kerrey changing his position depending on the political mood and shows how “desperate” he is, “pulling out a new political stunt every day.”

Kerrey’s campaign manager, Paul Johnson, responded by saying Fischer said she opposes super PAC money, but is now latching onto any excuse she can find to avoid doing something about it.

“Senator Kerrey has made a good-faith proposal to Fischer and he has long supported campaign finance reform. But both sides need to come together and agree to make it happen,” Johnson said in an email statement. “How pathetic that Fischer would attempt to use Kerrey’s comments, reflecting the current sad reality, as an excuse not to act. Nebraskans deserve better.”

Reported by Deena Winter, [email protected]

By: TwitterButtons.com

To sign up for free e-mail updates Nebraska Watchdog, click here.


Deena formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Cosmic Bob’s position today does not necessarily bear any relation to his position yesterday. And how he votes in Congress has no relation at all to what he says on the stump.

  • Patrick

    The Alaskan Nebraskan signed the pledge to keep taxes low for millionaires like herself and put the screws to the working people. Not a Nebraska Value, but she can see money from her front porch!!!!

  • Bam

    Sen. Fischer –

    The Democrat Super PACs are going broke trying to put out fires all over the country. They’re thinking about shutting ME off while I lag behind you in the double digits. I’m calling on you to oppose the Republican Super PACs as they effectively help bury my once-shining-but-now-decades-old political career.


    Bob “I like PACs when I lead” Kerrey

  • country

    Watchdog: Why do you print the nonsense from both candidate spokesman. Who cares what spin Keylin puts on any question, talk to Fischer. Talk to Kerry. Lets all agree they both are the lowliest of low, they both have desperate campaigns, they both see the benefits of Super Pacs and they both wish SuperPacs would stay out of it. Lets see a joint letter to all SuperPacs to say stop the ads, that if you see another Super Pac supporting me and disparaging my opponent, then vote against me.

    Lets get past that Fischer is no freaking Valentine welfare/subsidy queen. Lets get past the fact that Bob Kerry was born, raised, fought for America as Nebraskan, returned and was a sucessful respected Governor and finally represented Nebraska for 12 years in the Senate. He is a Nebrskan, get over it.

    Now, that we have put to bed the only thing that Watchdog and other newpapers and the Pac’s can talk about, because we stupid voters listen to this crap just like we do Coke vs Pepsi, lets get to what really matters.

    1.Who will look senior citizens in the eye and tell them we are going to raise retirement ages and lower payouts, and by the way…you have already received much more in benefits than you ever put in.

    2.Who will look at the underproductive people in our state and country and tell them you cannot consume more than you produce and that we cannot keep transferring $$, food, healthcare etc to you. It will stop.

    3.Who will look the entire medical community in the eye and tell them they have failed as a group; our healthcare is not proportionately better and it is twice as expensive. If it was not for medicare and third party insurers, people would not be coming to see you. You are eating 14% of GDP and it needs to be 7% of GDP. Quit building buildings, lower your fees, lower your costs, lower all your sal;aries and worker harder and longer for less. By the way, quit blaming insurance companies. If we take all the waste and profits out of all the health insurance companies, including all the paper work tracking claims and billing people, that is at most 10-15% of health costs. I am happy to eliminate all insurance rlated costs, but its actual costs to the equipment makers,drug suppliers, nurses, doctors, the big overbuilt buildings, etc that runs up health costs. Do not forget overcompensated hospital administrators.

    4.Who will tell the people of New Orleans or along the Missouri River not to build there, the government will not insure that because Buffett will not insure that. You are on your own.

    5.Who will tell farmers that buy your own price protection and buy your own crop protection and do not count on government subsidies?

    Which of these two candidates really know why America is not clicking on all cylinders and why; which will stand up to the special interests ; which will stop the crony capitalism; which will get specific on programs to cut and $$ amount to cut.

    You would not know reading the OWH or Watchdog!!! Do your damn job and stop with the pettiness.If you do not publish it, they will quit saying it.

  • John

    Kerry, Powers, and the Democrat Party, lost their credibility long ago. Bringing up PACs now is like “we can’t get enough money for our own so you can’t use yours”.

  • Biff

    Country: I like your approach, and I second your motion.

  • Jazzee

    Kerrey is so irrelevant I hear New York calling….and tell your spouse no one gives a hoot what she thinks about Nebraska cuz we don’t think much of you snotty phonies from new york

  • Who will look at the underproductive people in our state and country and tell them you cannot consume more than you produce and that we cannot keep transferring $$, food, healthcare etc to you. It will stop.

    Not Bob Kerrey, who voted against welfare reform when he was in the Senate.

    Simple proposition, folks. If you want to know how Kerrey will vote, look at how he has voted, and ignore what he says to get elected. He’ll say anything.

  • Hey Yo

    I think that the down fall of the Senate race is the YR’s. The continuing lack of support for Deb Fischer is appalling. If they keep this up all of their card holding with be revoked. Oh, and that goes for envelope stuffing too.

  • Dan

    Funny how democrats like cosmic bob whine and complain about the super pacs and corporate money yet are totally silent about the tidal wave of union money that dwarfs ALL other expendentures and are more than happy to accept into their coffers. One would expect a “journalist” like joe jordan to point that out, but he’s still just a leftist bob kerrey lackey after all is said and done.

  • Constitutional Jim

    I don’t know about you, but this violates our 11th amendment right. Through my scholarly knowledge of the Constitution I have deduced that this measure would be Unconstitutional. The Constitution was written for a reason. The United States Contitution is what makes us who we are, not super PACs. Other Constitutions are bad.

  • Dan

    Jim, you are incoherent, just because you say “Constitution” over and over doesn’t mean you know it. Citizens United was decided on the FIRST amendment, CORRECTLY decided. And the fact that kerrey is basing his entire campaign declaring war on the first amend should terrify all of you. Because his goal is silencing conservative corporations and conservative groups, with of course sweetheart special exemptions for unions, select liberal corps, liberal groups like planned parenthood and the sierra club, all that crap. The disclose act recently rejected in congress SPECIFICALLY stated all of that.