Posted at 09:21 AM ET, 12/20/2011

Mitt Romney: Campaign finance law changes making ‘mockery’ of campaign season


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting at Memminger Auditorium, Dec. 17, 2011, in Charleston, S.C. (Rainier Ehrhardt - Associated Press)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tuesday that changes in campaign finance law allowing outside political groups to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections were making a “mockery” of the campaign season. But Romney declined to ask a “super PAC” financed by his supporters and run by his former political aides to stop airing television ads attacking his chief rival, Newt Gingrich.

Restore Our Future, a well-financed pro-Romney super PAC, has spent more than $2 million on television ads in Iowa over the last few weeks depicting Gingrich as corrupted by scandal and a long career in Washington. Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether he would tell the group to stop running the anti-Gingrich spots, Romney said he would not.

“It’s illegal, as you probably know,” Romney told host Joe Scarborough. “Super PACs have to be entirely separate from a campaign and a candidate. I’m not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form. My goodness, if we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”

“And you’re not talking about the White House,” Scarborough said.

“No,” Romney said.

Restore Our Future, run by Charles Spies and Carl Forti, who were counsel and political director respectively on Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, raised over $12 million in the first half of 2011. The group does not have to release updated fundraising totals until next year, but is expected to have raised many millions more since its summer filing. Romney himself appeared at a summer fundraiser for the group.

While other groups have been founded to support other candidates, including Gingrich, the Romney group is believed to be one of the best financed super PACs backing individual candidates in the race. This makes Romney perhaps a great beneficiary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allowed such groups to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals.

But in the “Morning Joe” interview Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, condemned the system altogether.

“This is a strange thing in these campaign finance laws,” Romney said. “They’ve set up these new entities, which I think is a disaster, by the way. Campaign finance law has made a mockery of our political campaign season. We really ought to let campaigns raise the money they need and just get rid of these super PACs.”

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By  |  09:21 AM ET, 12/20/2011

 
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