Bernie Sanders is among Democrats pledging not to accept cash from super PACs. But with millions in campaign cash on hand, he’s not at risk, like many candidates of color are, of being without enough funds to run a strong campaign, some black fundraisers say.
Photo: Associated Press

The Democratic Party’s efforts to have candidates pledge not to accept cash from super PACs has some prominent black fundraisers saying, “Hol up.”

According to Politico, the Collective PAC, which aims to help elect black candidates to office, wrote a letter to prominent liberal activists asking them to stop pressuring Democrats not to accept money from super PACs backing a particular candidate:

“Whether intentional or not, the effect of what you are calling for is to shut down the one reliable source of revenue for engaging voters of color and for supporting candidates of color,” wrote Quentin James and Stefanie Brown James, the founder and co-founder of The Collective PAC. “One of the few sources of funding for the work to engage voters of color and support candidates of color has come from Super PACs.”

Quentin James, a member of the 2018 class of The Root 100—a listing of the 100 most prominent African Americans ages 25-45—and Stefanie Brown James said any reform to the campaign finance system should “address the ecosystem’s persistent problem of under-investing and overlooking communities of color,” Politico reports.

The Dems’ strategy regarding PAC funding will leave vulnerable at least a dozen candidates from all backgrounds in the battle to raise enough money to stay in the running for office in 2020, according to The Hill.

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“It’s always struck me as a little bit strange that Democrats think PACs are bad when, in many respects, it’s a bunch of small donors getting together to have a little bit more of an impact on what they do,” Ken Kies, a veteran fundraiser who raised $100,000 for Republican George W. Bush in 2004, told The Hill.

And, too often, wrote James and Brown James, it is super PACs that come to the rescue of candidates of color too often neglected financially by the Democratic Party establishment, citing the treatment of African American Democratic hopefuls Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Ben Jealous:

“Just a handful of organizations, like ours, built support for the campaigns of those African American leaders and much of the support from that work came from Super PACs created by people of color.”

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Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United gave corporations practically free rein in influencing political candidates and outcomes, there’s righteous concern about who’s really pulling the strings of lawmakers in office.

But if the Democratic Party really wants to ensure an even playing field for all candidates, it best make sure it’s there financially for all candidates, and not just a select few.