In an email sent to a private listserv operated by Occupy Wall Street protest organizers, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan pledged to personally deliver to Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin a petition listing the movement’s grievances, The Daily Caller has learned.
“Hope you all are good,” Ratigan wrote to listserv members shortly after midnight on Oct. 7. “I’m taking the petition with 140,000 after 8 days as a USB drive to initiate a public conversation with Senator Durbin tomorrow midday about outlawing private money’s ability to purchase the government. He has been pushing this for many years.”
Ratigan has been an open and vocal supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s support for campaign finance reform, while plugging his own foundation — the Get Money Out Foundation — on his television show. He made sure to plug the foundation, complete with a link to his upcoming book, in the footer of the email.
“We are also going to announce the formation of the Get Money Out Foundation,” Ratigan wrote in the email. “I intend to ask for his response to the rapidly-spreading Occupation Movement. Are there grievances you have that I can express to him? Pls advise.”
Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman confirmed to TheDC that the signatures were delivered to the senator and, in fact, that the delivery was filmed for Ratigan’s Oct. 7 show. Gleischman told TheDC that the reason Ratigan petitioned Durbin was because of the senator’s stance on campaign finance reform, the senator having introduced his Fair Elections Now Act in each of the last three congresses.
Bradley Smith, founder of Center for Competitive Politics and former Federal Election Commission chair, told TheDC that it was highly ironic that Ratigan would take his concerns to a powerful senator who collects significant campaign cash from Wall Street.
“Dylan Ratigan works for MSNBC, a very large corporation owned by larger corporations, and is using its corporate wealth to complain about corporations having too much political influence because they don’t do what Ratigan and the liberal hosts at MSNBC want done politically,” said Smith.
The Center for Responsive Politics documented that Durbin accepted $47,875 between 2007 and 2012 from Citigroup’s PAC, its employees and members of their immediate families. When pressed for comment, Gleischman said it was okay for the senator to accept Wall Street money, but that it shouldn’t be the way elections are financed.
“Americans would be shocked if they knew how much time Members of Congress and candidates seeking office must spend dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers,” Durbin said when he reintroduced the bill to Congress this spring.
Durbin said he believes true reform in Washington will require a fundamental reform of the way campaigns are financed, in order to “give candidates the opportunity focus on dealing with our nation’s problems, not on chasing after campaign cash.”
Not everyone is convinced, however, that Durbin and Ratigan have good intentions.
“I think this illustrates once again that campaign finance regulation is basically about silencing those with whom the reformers disagree. There’s no scandal here, in my view, but the situation is rich in irony and hypocrisy,” said Smith.
Ratigan’s foundation is operated by former Durbin staffer, and former bank lobbyist, Jimmy Williams. Ratigan and Williams’ website states, “We are using our ability to influence media outlets as a platform to force this issue to the center of the 2012 elections. We are using The Dylan Ratigan Show to build this digital wave, so join us. As the petition grows, the wave grows. Email, Facebook, Tweet — GET MONEY OUT.”
Ratigan’s email was part of a larger thread celebrating New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Oct. 10 announcement that “occupiers” would be permitted to stay indefinitely in Zuccotti Park.
MSNBC did not return TheDC’s request for comment on whether Ratigan knew Durbin had accepted Wall Street money.