This item has been updated since it was first posted.
Newsflash — Timothy M. Kaine’s Senate campaign will accept donations from lobbyists and political action committees.
Actually, that shouldn’t be news at all. Nearly every candidate for Congress does the same.
But what makes Kaine a bit different is that he is running to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) fresh off a stint as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. And the DNC under Kaine’s watch — at the behest of President Obama — did not accept donations from PACs and registered lobbyists.
When then-Sen. Obama was still just a presidential candidate in 2007, he decreed that his campaign would not take such contributions, in part because “[o]ur leaders have thrown open the doors of Congress and the White House to an army of Washington lobbyists who have turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”
After he won the Democratic nomination in 2008, Obama extended that ban to include the DNC. Kaine inherited the rules when he became chairman of the committee in 2009, and he bragged about the DNC’s ability to keep the money coming in despite the restrictions.
“We are completely funded off individual contributions now, and yet we have been successful enough to put unprecedented resources into the field,” Kaine said at a May 2010 event organized by the Christian Science Monitor.
A year earlier, according to the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Kaine told a Florida audience that refusing such donations “makes us work harder to have a grassroots.”
Now that he’s running for Senate — and not working for Obama anymore — a Kaine campaign official confirms that he will be taking those contributions.
His likeliest GOP opponent, ex-Sen. George Allen (R), is already doing so. Allen raised $1.5 million total in the first quarter of 2011, while Kaine won’t need to file his first fundraising report until July.
UPDATE: Kaine campaign spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine sent this comment Tuesday morning: "As a candidate, Governor Kaine has always welcomed lawful donations from anyone who shares his vision for progress for Virginia and the nation. No donors get special treatment and none are second class citizens. Though we expect to be out-raised and out-spent by the other side in this race, just as we were in the 2005 race, we've put in place a plan that will provide our campaign with the necessary resources to mobilize our grassroots network of supporters and take our message of fiscal responsibility, job creation and balance and civility across the Commonwealth. We feel good about our progress toward that goal so far."