Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) hasn’t exactly earned accolades from those outside of his base following his participation in the already completed portions of the confirmation hearings for Trump Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett. On Tuesday, Cruz ranted against a previous argument from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who had used his time to lay out the case of so-called “dark money” in politics. On Wednesday, Whitehouse denounced Cruz as a hypocrite during an MSNBC appearance. Meanwhile, during the Wednesday portion of the confirmation hearings, Cruz drew attention again. He claimed that Democrats’ push for expanding voting rights to some convicts means that they’d have murderous cult leader Charles Manson participate in elections. Manson died almost three years ago.
Cruz suggests that Democrats' growing opposition to felon disenfranchisement means they want Charles Manson, "who is serving multiple life sentences," to vote. Manson died in 2017.
— Matt Ford (@fordm) October 14, 2020
The day before, during his lengthy Tuesday complaints, Cruz claimed that Democrats want to undermine the Bill of Rights, which is not true. Nevertheless, he insisted:
‘I think all of those rights… [are] incredibly important to Americans. I also think what is really striking about this hearing… is that Senate Democrats are not defending what I think is really a radical agenda that they have when it comes to the Bill of Rights, and the topics they’re discussing today have little bearing to the rights that are really at issue and in jeopardy at the Supreme Court.’
Whitehouse issued a systematic rebuttal to Cruz during his time on MSNBC on Wednesday. The issue of so-called “dark money,” which Cruz also discussed, stems from a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which the court concluded that restrictions on independent political spending by corporations were illegal. That ruling opened the door to huge waves of corporate cash-driven political advocacy swamping the political process.
While it’s true that Democrats have also benefited from some of this spending, the difference is that it’s Republicans who changed the rules of the game, Whitehouse said. Rather than finding common ground in order to find a way forward, Cruz seems more focused on scoring political points. Whitehouse said:
‘Republicans want [dark money], we do not, but since their Republican majority on the Supreme Court created unlimited money in politics and allowed dark money to infiltrate that, we have to fight back, and we have no choice but to do that. I think we’re doing the right thing to do that, but it’s the height of hypocrisy to blame us for participating in a game that they have protected.’
Whitehouse discussed the problem of these conservative big spenders taking over the judicial process via their intervention in the nomination process and their subsequent intervention in the court process itself through means like third party court filings in support of a particular position that can be traced back to the same big money interest.
As Whitehouse put it:
‘I don’t know that it’s a messaging war. I think it’s a war for integrity in government and a war for transparency and a war to get grubby special interest fingers out of places they don’t belong. That’s not just messaging — that’s real, and I think we need to win that war. I think it’s important we win that war.’
Watch Whitehouse’s comments below: