Politics

Obama Stance on Campaign Cash Complicates Elections

((Get exclusive political content and analysis with Fox News' AEHQ iPhone app)

President Obama's visit to Nevada today is part of an all-out push by Democrats and their allies to save endangers Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

But Democrats are also counting on their allies in labor, especially government employee unions, to defend Reid. As the Wall Street Journal revealed today, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is spending more money than any other outside group this election season -- $87.5 million.

Obama may complain about shadowy donors, but the same Supreme Court decision that allows the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations on the right to spend big on campaign ads, also allows AFSSCME and other unions to funnel dues directly into campaign spending.

Reid, who steered through the Obama stimulus and a later state bailout package, has been instrumental in getting federal funds to AFSCMEs members. Aside from direct help, the union is funding an organization called Patriot Majority in Nevada that is engaging in exactly the kind of campaign practices Obama so often has denounced.

AFSCME is the top donor to Patriot majority, but other organizations known to be using the group to direct funds to Nevada include the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Teachers. Campaign filings also show substantial support from big casinos in Las Vegas.

White House spokesman John Earnest told FOX Business Network's Peter Barnes that "the president has been crystal clear that third party groups which spend tens of millions of dollars from anonymous sources are a threat to our democracy - regardless of which candidates they support."

Earnest also pointed out studies that suggest that outside money as a whole is going predominantly to Republicans.

But as the president's visit today points out, the idea of bashing Republican spending but standing silent on allied groups could open Obama to hipocricy allegations in 2012 when he will likely rely on help from "shadowy groups" for his own reelection.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.