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Sherrod Brown: Corporate cash flood is 'potentially disastrous for our democracy'


Sen. Sherrod Brown appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday to warn that the amount of corporate money being spent on politics today is "potentially disastrous for our democracy."

Brown, an Ohio Democrat who faces a re-election fight this year, has seen more outside money spent against him than in any other Senate race in the country. "We've been outspent four and half or five to one," he told Maddow, adding: "It's directed by Karl Rove, clearly. It's a lot of oil company money we figure. It's conservative billionaires."

"We figure they'll spend $20 or 25 million at least, in outside money, let alone what my opponent [Republican Josh Mandel] spends," Brown said. "And that does of course concern us." 

Brown noted that though wealthy progressives have also been known to pour large sums into political campaigns in support of Democrats, there's a key difference.

"If a rich progressive would come up and spend $10 million, if we win they don't get material benefit from it," he said. "They feel good, but they don't make money from it. If some of the rightwingers win, they get ... tax cuts, they get weaker environmental rules, they get anti-labor laws." 

Maddow observed that in the new order of things, it appears that Republicans will always have the spending advantage, even when facing a Democratic incumbent. 

Brown agreed. "I think that's right, if it's a competitive race," he said. "But I don't believe that being outspent means you lose ... If you do have enough, even if you're outspent 2 or 3 to one, you can win."

Still, he echoed Nancy Pelosi in calling for a long-term fix for the problem, asserting the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. 

"When they're coming at voting rights from the grassroots side, and spending this kind of money trying to buy elections, it is potentially disastrous for our democracy," Brown said.