MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell and Mika Brzezinski believe the Republicans should be open and transparent about the interest group sources of their campaign money, even though Democrats play by the same rules and don't have to reveal their sources.
Their reasoning was that the GOP has pulled in 40 to 50 million dollars more than the Democrats have from interest groups this campaign season. The MSNBC colleagues made their points on Monday's "Morning Joe."
"Citizens United allows non-transparent donations to be made. We don't know what's being given to these groups," O'Donnell warned. "You talked about how much Wall Street has donated to President Barack Obama, but we know about it. It was disclosed."
"Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough countered that the same applies for Democrat interest groups.
Both O'Donnell and Brzezinski sympathized with White House advisor David Axelrod when he pressed the issue recently. Bob Schieffer, host of CBS' "Face the Nation," asked Axelrod what evidence he had of dirty money coming into the GOP coffers.
Axelrod in turn asked Schieffer if he could disprove the notion. The Obama advisor never proved that Republicans are the recipients of questionable special interest money.
Joe Scarborough sharply countered Axelrod's assumption on Monday. "The absurdity of this is that Barack Obama is the biggest money machine in the history of politics," Scarborough argued, noting Obama's record-setting contributions from Big Oil and Big Insurance.
"I do know that the Democrats play by the same rules as the Republicans play by," he added later, saying that although Republicans are outgaining Dems in interest group contributions, everything is legal.
"Well the question's being asked of them. Where is it coming from?" Mika asked. Scarborough responded, "I-I'm completely flummoxed. Are you suggesting that Republicans play by rules that Democrats don't play by?"
"If it's so easy to reveal where the money came from, it would just throw away the whole question," Mika continued. "Why does [Obama] not go to unions, why does he not go to MoveOn.org," Scarborough answered. "I don't know all the liberal organizations that are throwing money in this campaign. I'm just saying there is such a blatant hypocrisy."
A full transcript of the two segments, which aired on October 12 at 6:04 a.m. and 7:02 a.m. EDT, respectively, is as follows:
MSNBC MORNING JOE 10/12/10 6:04 a.m. EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know Mort, Mort, here we have an attack launched by the White House that the New York Times disputes, the Wall Street Journal disputes, CBS News disputes – David Axelrod is asked, because it's their charge – can you prove it? And the only response that David has is "Well can you not prove it?" I mean, come on. I'm just going to say, it's the reality – if Republicans had done this, they would have had the bark stripped from their trees, and the trunks would be salted weeks ago.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: You remember the President attacked the Supreme Court in a State of the Union message on this one issue. It's legal, what-what – like it or not, it's what the Supreme Court stated was legal.
SCARBOROUGH: Well the President was wrong, actually, when he – legally wrong --
SCARBOROUGH: With that attack.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Where the White House and the Democrats feel like they do have a leg to stand on is special interests money, though, that's going into this election, even though the Democratic committees have raised more money than the Republican committees, when it comes to special interests, outside money, the Republican interest-backed groups are spending far more than the Democrats. We're talking about 40-50 million dollars more.
SCARBOROUGH: But Norah, that's because nobody will give Michael Steele any money. But the special interest groups are still going through Barack Obama – again, the absurdity of this is that Barack Obama is the biggest money machine in the history of politics. That is an objective reality. That is an objective truth. And the other objective truth is that there's not a close second. No one has ever raised more money from Wall Street than Barack Obama. Nobody has ever raised more money from Big Oil than Barack Obama. Nobody has ever raised more money from big insurance companies than Barack Obama.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Then why would it be – hold on. This is great –
SCARBOROUGH: Nobody has ever raised more money in ever category than – go to FEC.com if you want to have a harsh ideological attack against me for telling the truth – the only reason I bring this up is...is because you can go on the website. You can go on these websites.
BRZEZINSKI: If it's so obvious where he got that money, and it's out there for all to see, then why doesn't the other side reveal where their money came from as well? Why not? It shouldn't even be – it shouldn't even be embarrassing. It shouldn't even be disgraceful if it's equal, if it's from Wall Street, if it's from the oil companies. That's great, just show us. Why not show us?
SCARBOROUGH: You can know where all of John McCain's money came in 2008. But when you have these third-party groups raising on both sides, you don't know where all the money's coming from.
BEZEZINSKI: But they're giving us nothing to ask. Why not answer it?
SCARBOROUGH: Well why don't they ask a question about themselves first?
BRZEZINSKI: Well the question's being asked of them. Where is it coming from?
SCARBOROUGH: I-I'm completely flummoxed. Are you suggesting that Republicans play by rules that Democrats don't play by?
BRZEZINSKI: My question is that if it's so – if it's so easy to reveal where the money came from, it would just throw away the whole question.
SCARBOROUGH: But what I'm saying is, Barack Obama – why does he not go to unions, why does he not go to moveon.org, why does he not go to – I don't know all the liberal organizations that are throwing money in this campaign. I'm just saying there is such a blatant hypocrisy – this issue is –
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MSNBC MORNING JOE 10/12/10 7:02 a.m. EDT
BRZEZINSKI: I don't think David Axelrod did too bad himself.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh come on.
BRZEZINSKI: What was he supposed to do?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, just say "You are right, I'm busted. This is a sham issue."
BRZEZINSKI: Well no, actually. He has a question.
WILLIE GEIST: He is better than – David Axelrod is better than "Do you have evidence that it is not?"
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, that seriously is "You're a Communist." "Oh, give me evidence that you're a Communist." "Well give me evidence that you're not a Communist." I mean seriously, it is the same logic. "Well, can you prove that you're not a Communist?"
NORAH O'DONNELL: It maybe was not phrased well, but Citizens United allows non-transparent donations to be made. We don't know what's being given to these groups. It's not disclosed. You talked about how much Wall Street has donated to President Barack Obama, but we know about it. It was disclosed. These groups know (Crosstalk)
SCARBOROUGH: Look at Democratic interest groups. You can say the same things about what's happening on the left is on the right.
O'DONNELL: That is true. However, we have a disparity now, where the Republican-leaning groups are spending 40-50 million dollars – far outpacing the Democrats.
SCARBOROUGH: But those are independent groups. The reason why is no one will give to the Republican Party because Michael Steele owns it. So they've created outside groups. But the Democratic groups – the Democratic groups are getting the same money, but it's more internalized. (...) This is a non-issue. Again, this is so much – given the money that drowned Barack Obama's campaign in '08, that the mainstream media never talked about because it was a Democrat getting twice as much money as a Republican –
SCARBOROUGH: (To Mika) I guess the question I'm asking is why are you just asking this question right now at this point, when –
This has been going on for years. The fact that Barack Obama's been trying to make it an issue three weeks before a campaign, and it's been digested by certain people –
BRZEZINSKI: Sounds like a very liberal, elite response.
SCARBOROUGH: If Barack Obama really wants to go there, watch the articles that come out now talking about the money that funded his campaign in 2008 and 2010. Does he have clean – do you really think he has clean hands on this? Do you think the Democratic Party has clean hands on this?
BRZEZINSKI: Do we know where the money came for Obama's campaign? Is it all out there –
SCARBOROUGH: No. No. In third parties like these, no we don't. No we don't. No we don't.
BRZEZINSKI: Are you sure?
SCARBOROUGH: I'm absolutely positive, there are third-party groups that are able to move money –
BRZEZINSKI: How about this. I asked the question of both sides. But I don't understand, and I'll stick to your side for one second. Why not just answer the question? Wouldn't that be the right thing to do? Be a good example? And to be transparent.
SCARBOROUGH: I don't make the laws for the Federal Elections Commission, or for the Supreme Court, but I do know that the Democrats play by the same rules as the Republicans play by, and Barack Obama is the biggest money-making machine in the history of American politics. And for him, Jim Kramer, to bring this up at the end of a campaign, when the Democratic Party has clearly said in the New York Times "We don't want to run on the economy. We don't want to run on Barack Obama's record" – that's their quote in the New York Times. Now they're making up fake issues.