- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2017

The candidates running to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman are split over whether the party should reinstate a ban on donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees, with some warning the flow of cash is essential to the kind of party-building Democrats need.

President Obama embraced the ban as part of his vow to “change how Washington works,” but the DNC — to the dismay of good government groups worried about the influence of money in politics and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont — shelved the ban last year to maximize fundraising ahead of the 2016 elections.

“We don’t even have enough money now,” said South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime R. Harrison, one of seven candidates seeking the DNC chairmanship.

The candidates took part in a DNC forum over the weekend in Phoenix, where Christine Pelosi, a party member and daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, asked members to weigh in on a resolution she plans to put forward next month that would revive the ban and strip the chair’s ability to appoint lobbyists as at-large DNC members.

Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party and one of the national party candidates, said she “absolutely” would reimpose the ban.

But Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, another chairman candidate, said while he supports the ban, he is concerned about how the party will offset the loss in revenue.

“How are we going to make up the money, because the truth is it takes a lot of money to run a campaign,” he said. “We are all going to have to take fundraising as a responsibility. We are going to have to go low dollar and make up the money.”

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, also a candidate, said renewing the ban could have unintended consequences.

“I have friends who are union members who are lobbyists,” Mr. Perez said. “So are we saying they are out?”

Rounding out the list of DNC candidates are New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Fox News communicator Jehmu Greene, who entered the race on Friday.

“I know I have a lot of listening and learning to do, but I also know when you get to know my record of success and understand the role, the important, critical role that black women play for the Democratic electorate, then I hope to get your vote,” Ms. Greene said.

The 447 members of the DNC will cast their votes for the next chair at the party’s four-day spring meeting in Atlanta, which kicks off Feb. 23. The candidates will also have the chance to make their case to DNC members on Jan. 28 in Houston, Feb. 4 in Detroit and Feb. 11 in Baltimore.

The next DNC chair will take over a party that has been doing some soul-searching following a disappointing 2016 election.

Donald Trump is set to be inaugurated on Friday, the GOP still controls Congress, and Republicans expanded their control of state legislatures.

Donna Brazile has served as the interim chair since Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down last year after leaked emails showed members of the DNC were biased in favor of Hillary Clinton over Mr. Sanders in the Democratic primary race, enraging party activists.

The candidates on Saturday vowed to unify the party and empower the grass roots, and downplayed the idea that there are lingering divisions from the Democratic primary.

Mr. Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said the party has wasted billions on television ads and direct mail that “does not do anything other than make corporate media rich.”

“We need to take just a small percentage of that and invest it in our state parties and our local committees and show them respect, because we know once again Washington is not the answer,” he said.

“We don’t have time to relitigate the 2016 primary,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

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