The New York Times reported Friday that Bernie Sanders—who has condemned super-PAC spending as a threat to the American political process—has benefited from more super-PAC money for his presidential campaign than either of his opponents for the Democratic nomination.

Citing Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, the article said that National Nurses United, a labor union that has lobbied for single-payer health care, has spent more than $1 million in advertising and other forms of support for Sanders’ campaign. The Times described the union as “the biggest left-leaning outside spender” in the Democratic primary campaign.

Although there is irony in the fact that the Vermont senator has benefited from a huge sum in super-PAC money, the Times story is deceptive. It is based on a technicality in political finance law and does not reflect the amount of money actually spent by super PACs in the presidential race.

In assessing super-PAC spending in support of the Democratic candidates, according to The Intercept, the Times did not include the contributions of super PACs such as Correct the Record, which provides research and election strategies for Hillary Clinton. Not all the group’s spending is disclosed to the FEC as an independent expenditure, The Intercept said.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United ruling—along with weak campaign finance laws—opened many back doors through which money is funneled into politicians’ coffers. One of Clinton’s major allies, David Brock, uses the watchdog group Media Matters as well as Correct the Record to help Clinton—even though they are considered nonpolitical 501c3 groups.

The Intercept reports:

The newspaper calculated totals using only “independent expenditures” spent by Super PACs. If the Times had taken into account all pro-Clinton Super PAC campaign spending from this cycle, outside money spent in support of Clinton is more than twice the amount spent in support of Sanders. …

To debunk the claim that the nurses are outspending all pro-Clinton outside groups, one merely has to look at six months of spending and limited independent expenditure disclosures by the primary pro-Clinton Super PACs Correct the Record and Priorities USA Action. Doing so finds that pro-Clinton outside organizations have spent well over $2.2 million during this campaign cycle on staff, consultants, research, advertising, communications, advocacy, and other campaign-related expenses. If you add in pro-Clinton independent expenditures from Planned Parenthood, the Service Employees International Union, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Human Rights Campaign, the pro-Clinton total rises to more than $2.6 million.

That pro-Clinton outside money number is likely to rise dramatically after new disclosure reports are released this weekend. The Super PAC disclosures will reveal the last six months of spending in 2015. And given reports that Clinton Super PACs are sitting on a war chest that is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars raised from wealthy individuals, corporations, and unions, the comparison to the nurses union, which raises its cash from working nurses, may look quite strange in only a few days.

Read more here.

Update: The day after The New York Times published the story on Bernie Sanders’ support by the super PAC, the newspaper’s editorial page endorsed Hillary Clinton, playing down her Wall Street ties and her hawkish views on the Middle East. According to the Times editorial board, “Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers.”

You can read the endorsement here.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman


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