Senator Tester Addresses Money-in-Politics at Senate Banking Committee Hearing

Why is a supposed seniors organization spending thousands of dollars advertising against a federal housing bill that doesn’t target the elderly? Unsurprisingly: ideological, pro-corporate interests. In this instance, the Koch Brothers-connected (but not always loyal) 60 Plus Association used Medicare as a cover for its true agenda: fully privatizing the secondary mortgage market that is currently primarily covered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The non-profit targeted members of the Senate Banking committee for both their positions on Medicare and the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013 (S. 1217).

This Thursday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the bill, Senator Jon Tester (D-Mt.) referenced a coordinated campaign against some fellow committee members. The 60 Plus Association ran negative ads attacking several committee members: some on the housing bill and others on healthcare. Senator Tester proclaimed that this outside influence of powerful financial interests was one of the most unsettling elements of working on the bill. He told the Banking committee:

But one thing that has me somewhat troubled in this process is this is a complicated bill. There are a lot of people with money that don’t like this bill. For example hedge funds folks will not be able to take advantage of taxpayers. And what did they do? They went out and ran ads against many of the people at this table on both sides of the aisle. That is not right and we need to fix that. So after we get this bill passed and we get the housing finance system fixed maybe we all ought to work together and fix the political donation part of our jobs.

His comments illustrate that at the highest levels of government, people are feeling what the grassroots has known all along: big money is poisoning our political process. We need clean elections and public financing now.