Bob Dole: Big Donors Expect Something in Return

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Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, the GOP’s presidential candidate 20 years ago, forcefully spoke out against the flood of money in politics and suggested that major donors expect something in return for writing big checks.

With the amount of cash being raised for the 2016 election reaching unprecedented levels, it’s becoming clear that running for president is nothing like what it used to be.

Bob Dole, who ran for president three times and became the Republican nominee in 1996, says that money has massively altered the way that political campaigns function—and not for the better.

“We need to do something to stop all this money in politics,” the former Senate majority leader told the AARP Bulletin. “I’ve always believed when people give big money, they—maybe silently—expect something in return.”

The warnings of Senator Dole, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, highlight how the issue of campaign finance can transcend partisanship. Though campaign regulation is often treated as a partisan issue along the Democratic-Republican divide, Dole joins other lifelong Republicans, such as Trevor Potter, who worked as general counsel for both the George H.W. Bush and John McCain presidential campaigns, in denouncing the current system.

The primary, and the enormous amount of fundraising, are just now heating up. The next financial disclosures come July 15, and the first primary is still more than 6 months away. With experts expecting rampant fundraising and rule-breaking to come between now and November 2016, Dole is likely to be joined by more former politicians in commenting on how the system has changed.

“Now they talk about raising a billion dollars to run for president,” Dole remarked, comparing it to the public financing system in place in 1996. The former presidential candidate doubted that he could have become a party nominee in a system in which money plays such a big role. “It’s unreal.”

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