Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Democratic Committee Will Ban Funds From Donors That ‘Conflict’

  • Tobacco, guns, payday lenders among PACs to be shunned
  • Proposal opposed by those who say Democrats need the money

The Democratic National Committee voted to ban donations from certain corporate political action committees -- including those tied to tobacco companies, gun makers and payday lenders -- that “conflict” with the party’s platform.

DNC members approved the measure on Saturday in a voice vote at their meeting in Las Vegas. The committee’s leadership “will implement it going forward,” said DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. It’s not legally binding, though, giving the DNC some leeway on how to put it in place.

The move is an effort to bridge the gap between DNC members who want to ban all corporate and lobbyist contributions to the committee, and those who believe the party can’t unilaterally disarm its fund-raising efforts as Republicans rake in millions of dollars from corporate and lobbyist sources.

“The American people are looking to Democrats to promote people-powered politics in this era of resistance, revival, and reform,” reads the measure, authored by California DNC member Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and a long-time advocate for reducing the corporate and lobbyist influence on the party. The DNC, she said, should “walk our talk.”

Screening Donors

As the Democratic nominee in 2008, Barack Obama put in place a complete ban on the DNC accepting donations from lobbyists and corporate PACs. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz ended that policy in early 2016 as the committee determined it needed money from those sources so it would “have the resources and infrastructure in place to best support whoever emerges as our eventual nominee,” a spokesman said at the time. Hillary Clinton hadn’t yet become the party’s nominee, but it was seen as the approach she favored on corporate money.

Pelosi said she hopes the new ban will be executed by the DNC in the same manner as the previous one, with the DNC’s finance team evaluating contributions as they come in to determine if they originated with appropriate donors.

The resolution also includes language encouraging state Democratic parties and candidates to draw clear lines around the money they will and won’t accept. “It’s just taking two or three steps to make sure there’s internal consistency,” Pelosi said. “You try to do what you can and I think that matters to voters.”

At its February meeting, at which former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected party chair, the DNC considered a measure that would have been slightly narrower than the Obama ban, barring donations from corporate PACs. “It is not something new. We operated this way for seven years,” Stuart Appelbaum, a New York DNC member who co-sponsored the resolution, said then. The proposal failed after other DNC members argued that the party needed the money.

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