As you read the rest of this post, please keep in mind that Elizabeth Warren never has authorized release of her hiring files at Harvard Law School or other employers to see whether her phony Native American and Cherokee status was known at the time of hiring.
Now onto the story.
Mother Jones, obviously sympathetic to Warren, details how Warren has launched a campaign to force financial institutions to disclose support for think tanks just days after a Democratic, but not progressive, think tank criticized her, Elizabeth Warren: Big Banks Should Reveal Their Donations to Influential Think Tanks:
Under current law, banks and other corporations are not required to publicly report their contributions to think tanks. That means that lawmakers who use think tank data and analysis to shape laws and regulations designed to police banks do not know how much bank money influences that research. “A lot of the power of big banks over DC comes from donations to think tanks, who then put out ‘studies’ favorable to certain ways of doing business,” says one Democratic aide. In a letter to the CEOs of the nation’s six largest financial institutions—JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley—Warren called on the companies to start voluntarily reporting their donations to these policy shops….
Warren’s letter comes a few days after the president and vice president of the centrist think tank Third Way wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed warning Democrats against following Warren over a “populist cliff.” The Nation reported this week that Third Way employs a Washington consulting firm that represents financial institutions including MasterCard and Deutsche Bank.
Politico ran a story in which a Republican accused Warren of McCarthyite tacitcs:
From a senior DC Republican on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): “The normally savvy Liz Warren may have made a rare misstep … in response to … Third Way publishing an op-ed critical of her populist liberal policy positions. Rather than meet the policy arguments head on in the arena of ideas, Warren chose to fire off an intemperate letter to the CEOs of major financial institutions effectively demanding that they disclose all their corporate contributions to policy wonks and think tanks — implying but not saying that they were stealth underwriters of the op-ed objecting to her own views.
“The Warren letter was a mistake for a number of reasons. First, there is absolutely no evidence beyond feverish conspiracy talk that the banks asked Third Way to write an op-ed critical of Warren. Accusing the banks with no evidence puts Warren in the company of Larouche-like quacks. Second, attacking think tank donors makes Warren look like an opponent of a robust stream of idea development and discussion. This is, to say the least, an odd place for a former Harvard Law School professor to be, and will make even the taciturn pundits at AEI and Brookings very uncomfortable.
“Third, Warren’s ‘give me the names’ edict, sounds uncomfortably like the kind of demand that Joe McCarthy would have made in the 1950s. The response that silenced him ironically came from a Massachusetts lawyer, Joseph Welch — who simply looked McCarthy in the eye and said ‘at long last, have you left no sense of decency?’ Indeed.”
Warren supporters are pushing back against suggestions Warren was engaged in an attempt to intimidate opposition, via Politico:
Lot of folks pretty unhappy with the criticism we ran from an anonymous GOP source on Thursday of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s decision to send a letter to big bank CEOs demanding they release details of their donations to think tanks after one of those think tanks, Third Way, had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal critical of Warren and other progressives calling for Social Security expansion.
Essentially, Warren’s defender are claiming she simply wants transparency, something many Senators want as to campaign donations and so on.
I’m generally for more disclosure in campaign finance, but the best argument against requiring full disclosure by groups engaged in political speech is that politicians sometimes retaliate against their critics. Sen. Elizabeth Warren inadvertently made that very argument this week.
As told by Ben White at Politico, a group called “Third Way” criticized Warren. Warren apparently suspected that Third Way’s criticism of her was funded by banks. So she wrote a letter to bank CEOs demanding they disclose which political groups they’re funding.
Warren sits on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. She’s basically telling the entities whose livelihood her committee controls to stop criticizing her. This is bullying — and it’s the best argument for allowing companies and individuals to anonymously criticize politicians.
We know what happens when groups not friendly to Democrats are identified either as political donors or supporters of conservative-leaning groups or causes. Boycotts, secondary boycotts and intimidation. Just look at how The Nation, mentioned in the quote above, already is going after consultants used by Third Way.
The best way for Warren to stifle criticism from think tanks is to go after their funders, to unleash the left blogosphere on them. In order to do that, you need to know who funds them, who works with them, and who supports them.
If a think tank produces a research piece on a particular policy, the research can be judged on its merits, subject to legitimate criticisms as to arguments and supportive authority.
That’s not what Warren wants. She wants to shut down the criticism under the guise of transparency.
In a sign of the left’s new aggressiveness, a coalition of liberals is trying to marginalize a centrist Democratic policy group that was responsible for a Wall Street Journal op-ed article this week that said economic populism was “disastrous” for the party.
The coalition, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and three other liberal advocacy organizations have urged their members to contact a group of congressional Democrats who are honorary leaders of the centrist group, Third Way.
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