Robert Bauer, general counsel for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, said Monday that the anti-election reform movement had picked up speed since the enactment of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law in 2002.
“I’m very troubled that there is an extremism in the opposition to reform, a sort of reckless and doctrinaire quality that is going to go a long, long way if it is taken to its logical conclusion to further undermine the fragile and critical trust the people have in their government and in the quality and effectiveness of self-governing,” said Bauer, speaking in Caplin Pavilion at the University of Virginia School of Law.
He noted the disclosure of political spending was once a “blessed refuge from disagreement,” but in recent years had come under attack by those who claimed liberals “wield it as a weapon to vilify business donors.”
The most notable attack on campaign finance reform was the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court held that corporations and unions may independently fund election-year advertising, so long as the ads are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.
“It was a radical departure from understandings of the law,” Bauer said.
He also noted that improved access to the polls now vies for attention with voting fraud claims and more limited access.
Bauer is also the general counsel for the Democratic National Committee and founder and partner in the Perkins Coie Political Law Group.
Watch video, courtesy of University of Virginia School of Law, below: