Dem Senator Blames Dark Money for Increase in Campaign Donations | NTK Network Dem Senator Blames Dark Money for Increase in Campaign Donations

Dem Senator Blames Dark Money for Increase in Campaign Donations

“He was able to effectively out-spend me five or six to one, particularly with television ads, which are so important in a statewide race..."

By NTK Staff | 04.23.2019 @12:21pm
Dem Senator Blames Dark Money for Increase in Campaign Donations


Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is an outspoken critic of ‘dark money’ in politics blamed an influx in contributions to his 2018 reelection campaign on ‘dark money’ during an interview on the Public’s Radio on Tuesday.

In 2018, Whitehouse easily defeated his Republican challenger, Robert Flanders, a lawyer and former Rhode Island Supreme Court justice.

Whitehouse had a massive cash advantage over Flanders, outspending him during the campaign five to one.

According to Public’s Radio:

“Since his last election back in 2012, Whitehouse had raised more than $6 million. Flanders got into the race in November 2017, so he had a lot less time to seek contributions. The Republican raised a little more than $1 million, an amount dwarfed by Whitehouse’s campaign account.”

“He was able to effectively out-spend me five or six to one, particularly with television ads, which are so important in a statewide race,” Flanders told Public’s Radio.

During the interview with Public’s Radio, Whitehouse was “unapologetic about his aggressive fundraising,” claiming that “spending more than $5 million on his re-election was part of what it took to show Rhode Islanders that he wanted their votes.”

“And even if you had no opponent, they would want to see a big effort,” Whitehouse said. “They’d want to see you talking to them on television, they’d want to see your mail in their mail slots, they’d want to see you out there hustling.”

But not everyone sees it that way.

“What’s extraordinary about Sheldon Whitehouse is that he spent that much money in a very small state,” Brown University political science professor Wendy Schiller said. “So it was either overly cautionary on his part, or he was scared of something in that race, because the number is large for the size of the state and the fact that it was his second re-election campaign.”

So why then was Whitehouse so concerned about outraising Flanders? He says he feared retribution from so-called ‘dark money’ groups.

“If there’s a person in the Senate who the fossil fuel industry and the big dark money crowd is more annoyed with than me, I don’t know who that person is,” Whitehouse said. “So I viewed myself as being very high up that target list.”

But as Public’s Radio pointed out, “it turned out, dark money interests did not come after Whitehouse last year.”

“The Democrats have gained much more parity with the Republicans in their capacity to raise and spend money,” Schiller said. “The tech industry tends to be liberal and more Democratic than they are Republicans, so they manage to find sources to raise a lot of money to be competitive with the Republicans.”

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