Pelosi: Obama Reversed Himself on SuperPACs so ‘Koch Brothers (Won’t) Decide Who Will Be President’

February 9, 2012 - 6:59 PM
Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, after being re-elected as the leader of the House Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Barack Obama chose to embrace so-called “super PACs” (political action committees) for his re-election campaign so that billionaire philanthropists Charles H. Koch and David G. Koch would not “decide who the next President would be.”

“The president made a decision, which I think was a wise one, that he was not going to unilaterally disarm and leave the field to the Koch brothers to decide who will be president of the United States and would control the Congress, and his commitment was for full disclosure,” Pelosi said.

The Kochs, who serve as president and executive vice president of Koch Industries -- the second largest privately held company in the U.S. -- are benefactors of primarily conservative and libertarian causes.

Pelosi's comments came during a press conference to announce support for the Disclose Act, which would require political action committees (PACs) to release the identities of their top donors.

She was asked by a reporter: 'In the interim before Congress is to enact this, do you think that Super PACs who support both the president's campaiugn and the Congressional Democratic campaign should voluntarily disclose -- "

Interrupting with a response of "absolutely," Pelosi defended the president, who once called unlimited campaign fundraising by corporations a “threat to democracy,” and praised his decision to now rely on Super PACs for the 2012 campaign.

“And by the way, we’re asking people to contribute to us if they want to elect more reformers to Congress, so that we can do away with super PACs, we can do away with secret contributions, we can reform the system, we can amend the constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision,” Pelosi added.

Others in the House Democratic leadership also weighed in.

“I’m a big baseball fan.  I’ve never been to a baseball game, ever, where one side was told you don’t get bats,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).  “He’s going to compete, fairly and effectively, and as the Leader said, nobody should expect this President to cede the election to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.”

The Disclose Act’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), said the bill would make super PACs more transparent and accountable, and “get rid of secret money” in politics.

Among other things, the proposal would require super PACs to identify the top five donors for each political ad, require corporations to inform their shareholders of their campaign spending, and have leaders of super PACs provide an approval message at the end of each ad.

In 2010, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not limit the amount of political campaign contributions made by corporations and other organizations. The decision created super PACs -- independent political action committees that can accept unlimited contributions anonymously, but can have no contact with the political candidates they support.

During his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama criticized the Supreme Court, saying: “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.”