For months, Bernie Sanders has been hammering Hillary Clinton on contributions to her campaign and political action committee, saying he opposes taking money from big donors, including those from Wall Street.
The man running Clinton’s campaign in South Carolina appears to agree with Sanders more than Clinton on that issue.
Long before he worked for her, Clay Middleton, Clinton campaign’s South Carolina State director, warned candidates about what donors’ motivations.
“Candidates must be mindful of the motivations of the individuals from whom they accept campaign contributions and advice,” Middleton wrote in a guest column in the Charleston City Paper in 2009. “Some candidates do not have high standards when it comes to the organizations and persons they receive money from. People without those standards lack integrity and should not be elected officials.”
Middleton, who unsuccessfully ran for state legislation in 2008, said he made a commitment not to take money from those who were trying to buy his “vote, influence or support” and returned a contribution from a payday lending organization. “Something about being independent and having integrity allows me to sleep well at night,” he wrote.
A former political organizer and longtime aide to Rep. James Clyburn, Middleton wrote the column about Howard Rich, a wealthy New York real estate developer who had been donating to members of both parties in the South Carolina General Assembly as he pushed legislators to allow public dollars to be used to send children to private schools.
Clinton has been repeatedly questioned about whether she has been _ or would be _ easier on the financial service industry after accepting millions of dollars in donations and speaking fees from those connected to it. It’s one of the top industries supporting her when she ran for Senate and president and it retains close ties to her family foundation.
“There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money in our political system,” Sanders recently said.
Clinton responded that Sanders acts as if “anyone who ever took donations or speaking fees from any group has to be bought.” She said she pushed back on the financial serves industry even before the recession, and she would do so again.
Both Clinton and Sanders have vowed to rid the change the campaign finance system if elected president.
Middleton penned another guest column about money in politics in 2011. “Currently, the amount of money that is spent by corporations and other organizations in order to influence American politics will continue to be a conversation had by many, but acted on by a few,” he wrote.