iWatch News reports that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Trade Representative Ron Kirk have all expressed their willingness to attend super PAC events, now that the president’s given his sign off for them to appear at Priorities USA Action events.
The shift gives big corporate donors, unions and other wealthy individuals time with policymakers, lawmakers and key administration aides that they haven’t had since McCain-Feingold took effect in 2002.
Under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, big donors got private time with government officials in return for donations to the political parties—which were exempt from donation limits at the time. That system came to an end with the McCain-Feingold law in 2002, subjecting the national parties to limits on spending and donations.
But a combination of last week’s shift in Obama policy, Citizens United and a recent Federal Election Committee ruling that draws a distinction between speaking at a super PAC event and soliciting money creates something similar, with the super PACs replacing the parties as the entities that receive donations, Paul Ryan, FEC program director and associate legal counsel of the nonpartisan watchdog group Campaign Legal Center told POLITICO.