Jeb Bush criticizes Citizens United for not going far enough

Jeb Bush is currently being supported by the largest super PAC in American history. That super PAC is the largest in American history because of the great and absurd lengths Jeb Bush went to in order to fundraise for/strategize with it before he officially announced he was running for president.

So it was quite a twist when Jeb Bush called for abolishing super PACs earlier today. In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash released today, Jeb said that he would support a constitutional convention that adopt, among other things, campaign finance rules that would overturn Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and, by extension, eliminate super PACs. As he told Bash, “If I could do it all again I’d eliminate the Supreme Court ruling. This is a ridiculous system we have now where you have campaigns that struggle to raise money directly and they can’t be held accountable for the spending of the super PAC that’s their affiliate.”

First off, what? Jeb Bush is only still being taken remotely seriously as a candidate for president because his super PAC has a large enough war chest to, in theory, demolish all of his enemies. I say in theory because one of the greatest lessons we may take from the 2016 race is that no amount of money can save a fundamentally flawed candidate. Jeb Bush’s campaign spent $2,800 per vote in Iowa — more than the maximum amount an individual donor can make to a candidate per election cycle. So for Jeb to make a straight-faced critique of super PACs at all is to display a fascinating lack of self-awareness.

More importantly, though, Jeb Bush’s argument against super PACs and Citizens United is even worse than his position itself. Bush’s core complaint is that the FEC’s flimsy rules prohibiting coordination between super PACs and campaigns make life too difficult for the campaigns, whose abilities to fundraise and strategize are hindered by their super PACs’ activities. But if that’s true, then it would actually be easier to extend the Citizens United ruling and eliminate contribution limits to campaigns altogether. Jeb, among others, has already flubbed the distinction between the two entities, and their fundraising numbers are already more or less assumed to be in the same piles of cash supporting their respective candidates. So if the firewall is annoying, inefficient and arbitrary, as Bush seems to be arguing, why keep it around?

In other words, Bush’s argument isn’t that Citizens United went too far, but rather that it didn’t go far enough.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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