A Day Late, ABC Joins the Outrage Over SCOTUS Campaign Finance Decision

A day late to the game, ABC joined the outrage on Thursday over Wednesday's Supreme Court decision that struck down the limit on political donations.

Investigative correspondent Brian Ross decried the "fancy dinners and luxury yachts...where the super rich decide which politicians get their money, and therefore who has a chance to be elected." He interviewed Democrat consultant Bill Burton who admitted "It's absolutely about the money."

Ironically, Burton was a senior strategist with President Obama's super PAC Priorities USA in 2012. The super PAC spent over $65 million in attack ads alone, according to FactCheck.org.

Ross continued his tone of alarm: "With this week's Supreme Court ruling finding spending limits invalid, rich donors can now give the maximum amount to every member in Congress, leaving average Americans on the sideline."

Ross ended his report by interviewing Jonathan Soros, the son of liberal billionaire George Soros, who is pushing for reform of campaign finance. "Of course, he's the one who is trying to end the system that many, including Republicans and Democrats, believe have made American politics a private playground for the rich," concluded Ross.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

ABC
WORLD NEWS
4/3/14
[6:41 p.m. EST]

DIANE SAWYER: And across this country here at home today, people were weighing in about the Supreme Court ruling on money in politics. The Court striking down a limit on campaign contributions and raising new questions about the influence of millionaires and billionaires in the races for Congress and the White House. Tonight, ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is back on the money trail.

(Video Clip)

BRIAN ROSS, ABC News chief investigative correspondent: The real campaign in American politics begins long before and far away from the confetti and balloons and speeches. The real campaign for both parties takes place at fancy dinners and luxury yachts.

(On camera) What's your name, sir? Can't say your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No.

ROSS: (voice over) Where the super rich decide which politicians get their money, and therefore who has a chance to be elected.

BILL BURTON, Democrat political consultant: It's absolutely about the money.

ROSS: (on camera) And without it?

BURTON: Without it, you're pretty much dead in the water.

ROSS: (voice over) With this week's Supreme Court ruling, finding spending limits invalid, rich donors can now give the maximum amount to every member in Congress, leaving average Americans on the sideline.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Your voice is going to be completely drowned out by these massive contributions from just a few wealthy, interested parties.

ROSS: Indeed, a handful of billionaires from Las Vegas to Wall Street have emerged as the country's backroom power brokers. On the Republican side, there's already been a parade of potential presidential candidates to see casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who says he is again prepared to spend about $100 million if he can find the right candidate. And the secretive David Koch, along with his brother, Charles, are also good for close to $100 million for candidates who they say support core American values. Democrats portray the Kochs as evil.

Sen. HARRY REID (D-Nev.), Senate Majority Leader: These two men are a pair of shadow billionaires, spending millions of dollars to rig our political system.

ROSS: But the Democrats have their own big money figures. California billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer has put out the word he, too, will put up about $100 million dollars for the coming election cycle. And the son of billionaire George Soros, Jonathan, is promising to use his own money and access, ironically, to push for reforms that would undercut the role of big money and access in politics.

(On camera) Are you using the system like those who are often criticized for it?

JONATHAN SOROS: Yeah, absolutely. I'm not going to pretend that we're not.

(End Video Clip)

ROSS: Soros was the only one of the big-money players to agree to appear in our report tonight. Of course, he's the one who is trying to end the system that many, including Republicans and Democrats, believe have made American politics a private playground for the rich. Diane?
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014