DNC Chairman Tim Kaine Compares Controversy Over Interest Group Funding To Watergate

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine sharpened his criticism of the well-funded outside groups whose campaign war chests are swelling this year thanks to the contributions of anonymous donors.

Kaine predicted that the lack of transparency among these organizations, which have been putting most of their muscle behind Republican candidates and causes, represented “one of the biggest political process stories since Watergate.”

“As we see this trend toward funding campaigns through non-reportable entities, the Democrats stand squarely for requiring disclosure of who is funding campaigns,” Kaine said at a breakfast in Washington organized by the Christian Science Monitor, “and I don't think it’s an accident that you’re seeing this happen.”

The DNC chairman drew several comparisons between the current outcry among top Democrats about anonymous donors and the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, saying that by the time the Nixon-era drama fully unfolded “it had its tentacles on a whole lot of areas including the financing of campaigns."

Watergate, Kaine said led to “one or two most salutary developments in American politics in the last 30 years, which is the trend toward openness and disclosure.”

“With the advent of the Internet and Internet tools that disclosure is near instantaneous, it is a great resource for citizens to know who’s funding candidates, it’s a great resource for the media to hold folks accountable,” Kaine said. “There is a concerted effort, aided and assisted by what I think was a very radical Supreme Court decision -- the Citizens United case -- a concerted effort on the Republican side of the aisle to reverse what I think is a 30-year trend towards openness and transparency and to instead maximize the funding of campaigns through non-reportable entities where donors are not disclosed.”

He added: “The fact that they’re not disclosed tells me that those running the ads know that the voters would be pretty shocked if they saw who was funding them.”

Kaine also weighed in on the recent campaign ad unveiled by West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s Senate campaign that shows Manchin shooting a rifle at a copy of the cap-and-trade bill promoted by the Obama administration. In the ad Manchin also vows to “repeal the bad parts of Obamacare.”

“I'm not wild about it," Kaine said of campaign commercial. “The part that I most don't like is fixing what's bad about Obamacare. He had two Democratic senators -- very good senators -- who voted for that bill and they voted for it because it probably has as much to offer the residents of West Virginia as virtually any state.”

Kaine, however, did acknowledge that Manchin, who is running in a tight race against Republican businessman John Raese, was “a hell of a shot.”

Watch a clip of Kaine's remarks:

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