Obama's top adviser on outside funds to influence elections: 'I don't think we can put the genie back in the bottle'


After spending their final weeks before 2010's midterm elections flailing against business groups and outside financiers that spent millions to influence races around the country, leading Democratic strategists and even the president's top advisor have come to see things Karl Rove's way.

When it comes to US elections, the future is in nameless donors, provocative and mysterious television ads and the ever-increasing influence of currency.

Its an alteration in strategy that will see Democrats increasingly rely on overtures to privately held wealth in the 2012 presidential elections, and essentially an adoption of the strategy employed by Republicans at the direction of former Bush political strategist Karl Rove.

Rove, an infamous figure of the prior administration, formed what critics labeled a "shadow RNC" (Republican National Committee) in the last election cycle, calling his groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. The two worked in tandem with the US Chamber of Commerce, America's largest business lobby, to finance Republican campaigns and buy advertising across the board.

The problem, Democrats kept repeating during the last election cycle, is that their donors are not specified and ads don't have to say whose advocacy is being reflected. The Supreme Court's January decision in Citizens United effectively overturning a century of campaign finance laws and allowing unlimited, secret spending by special interest groups.

The new finance rules mean that corporations foreign and domestic would be allowed to run political television advertisements ahead of national and local elections without telling voters who's paying for them, according to President Obama.

The president and Senate Democrats had supported a piecemeal arrangement of campaign finance reforms known as the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, but it failed to pass the Senate due to a Republican filibuster.

"Obama adviser David Axelrod, who will leave the White House in the coming months to focus on the president's reelection bid, said in an interview: 'I don't think we can put the genie back in the bottle' when it comes to campaign spending by outside groups," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

"We're going to continue to urge all of our supporters to participate through our campaign," Axelrod told the paper. "But it's unrealistic to think that you're going to have this deluge of spending on behalf of Republican candidates and not engender a reaction on the Democratic side. It's a natural thing."

Democrats still maintain that donors should be disclosed, the Post noted.