California Sen. Kamala Harris will join other leading Democrats in rejecting corporate PAC money, she announced in an interview on Monday.
The decision marks a reversal from Harris, who refused at a town hall in Sacramento earlier this month to swear off corporate donations. Harris publicized her new position during a visit, taped Friday, with “The Breakfast Club,” a New York radio show. When asked by co-host Charlamagne Tha God about her earlier response, Harris said she had reconsidered.
“I was asked that question (at the town hall) and I wasn’t expecting the question. And I thought about it afterwards,” Harris said. “I think that money has had such an outside influence on politics, and especially with the Supreme Court determining Citizens United, which basically means that big corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money influencing our campaigns, right? We’re all supposed to have an equal vote, but money has now really tipped the balance between an individual having equal power in an election to a corporation. So I’ve actually made a decision since I had that conversation that I’m not going to accept corporate PAC checks. I just, I’m not.”
In Sacramento earlier this month, Harris demurred when an audience member asked if she would say “Thanks, but no thanks” to a “corporation or a corporate lobbyist (who) wants to give you money for a campaign.”
“Well, it depends,” Harris replied. “It depends.”
His arms crossed at the waist, her questioner declared this the “wrong answer.”
“Well, that’s not the answer you want to hear,” Harris said. “It doesn’t make it wrong.”
She continued, acknowledging the legitimacy of his concerns, then explaining her thinking.
“I appreciate the reason that you’re asking it. I do appreciate that,” Harris said. “And that’s why we have rules that require that any donation that anyone receives needs to be disclosed. So that you can do an assessment, and the voters can do an assessment, and look at where the contributions come from and make your decisions about whether those contributions have influenced the way that people act and the way that people vote.”
But her position rankled the party’s increasingly influential progressive wing. Republicans pounced, too, with the conservative America Rising PAC emailing out video and a transcript of the exchange to reporters. The RNC website still has a page up, with the clip, titled, “Corporate Kamala.”
Harris’ decision follows those of her colleagues and fellow 2020 Democratic presidential prospects Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey. They promised to forswear corporate PAC money in separate announcements, just a few hours apart (Gillibrand going first), back on February 13.
It also means that all five of the Senate’s top potential candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — including Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have said they will not accept corporate PAC cash.