US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico,
mingled with Democratic benefactors at the Hyatt Regency in Washington DC Tuesday night, earning an introduction to "more than 150 attendees from the [political action committee] and donor community" by outgoing chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Steve Israel for a
that welcomed new members of the 114th Congress.
A lot of ink's been splashed about the national recognition Luján will receive as the leader of the political arm of US House Democrats. It's a "
." It's "
." The position is "
Not mentioned: As the head of the DCCC, Luján has now become a cog in the modern-day election money machine that raises and spends millions of dollars to influence your vote.
'Floodgates for special-interest, corporate money'
It's a machine that Luján, in theory, supported dismantling just months ago, when he introduced a companion bill in the US House to New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall's constitutional
that would have given Congress and states the power to regulate the raising and spending of unlimited amounts of cash in elections. He says in a statement through the DCCC that he supports the
, legislation that seeks to shine more sunlight on groups raising and spending unlimited amounts of cash.
“Citizens United opened the floodgates for special-interest, corporate money from hidden donors that seeks to influence elections," Luján said in a
about his bill, referring to the US Supreme Court's 2010 decision Citizens United v the Federal Election Commission that granted individuals, corporations, unions and other organizations the ability to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash in elections—as long as they don't coordinate how that cash is spent directly with candidates. “This amendment would take a critical step toward removing corporate influence in our elections and reaffirm the bedrock principles of our democracy by giving voice back to the people.”
But as the newly appointed leader of the DCCC, Luján will be tasked with overseeing a heavy hitting political action committee with a multi-million dollar balance sheet.
The DCCC is designated as a "party PAC" that must adhere to contribution limits of up to $32,400 from individuals and PACs. But there are no contribution limits on what political party committees and campaigns give to the DCCC.
Asked how his chairmanship at the DCCC squares with his advocacy for campaign finance reform, Luján reaffirmed his support for the DISCLOSE Act through one of the group's spokeswomen, adding in his statement that a "huge portion" of the DCCC is "funded by grassroots donations averaging about $20, which stands in stark contrast to Republican outside groups run by Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers."