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By Phillip Stucky
Failed Democratic candidate in the Georgia special election Jon Ossoff decried the rise of money in politics Tuesday before he completed the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history.
Democrats raised and spent $23 million in favor of Ossoff’s bid against former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and a combined $50 million was spent in the race overall. The second most expensive congressional race was between former Reps. Allen West and Patrick Murphy. The two candidates combined spent $29.6 million in the race that ousted West from the lower chamber of Congress.
“The role of money in politics is a major problem and particularly the role of unchecked anonymous money,” Ossoff told NPR host Rachel Martin in a Tuesday morning interview. “There have been super PACs in Washington who have been putting up tens of millions of dollars of attack ads in here for months now.”
The young Democrat appeared to understand the irony of his statement and offered that the intense fundraising was a result of the current political climate after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows for greater political funding.
“When you have that kind of an environment, it’s necessary to raise the resources to fight back,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that my campaign has raised that money in small-dollar contributions, on average less than $50.”
That comment ignores the reality of most of his funding, however, because several groups and PACs initiated campaigns of their own that aren’t counted the same as campaign donations by the Federal Elections Commission.
Ossoff then said that the majority of Handel’s outside funding came from Washington, D.C., whereas his funding came largely from California Democrats.
“There’s no question that money in politics is a major problem, which is one of the reasons that we need campaign finance reform so that candidates and campaigns will spend more time talking to voters and discussing the issues and less time raising money,” Ossoff concluded.