The "fundamentally honest and trustworthy" Hillary Clinton said on the campaign trail she was "so sick" of the "lies" told about her by the Sanders campaign. Clinton was responding to a Greenpeace activist who challenged her about accepting money from fossil fuel companies.
"I do not have that kind of money from people who work for fossil-fuel companies," she claimed, while Bernie Sanders came out later and pointed out Clinton had "lobbyists working for the oil, gas, and coal industry" raising money from her. The Clinton campaign insists it doesn't receive money from energy companies themselves or political action committees associated with them.
Clinton's complaint is rich not just because she is a serial liar and prevaricator, but because it is about a tactic she and her Democratic cohorts (and Donald Trump!) have used for decades—maligning an opposing side based on who might be supporting them with their money rather than actually engaging opposing political positions.
In 2012 Barack Obama openly worried about being "outspent" even though he had broken political spending records in 2008. The failure to launch of candidates like Jeb Bush with tens of millions of dollars backing their campaign has done little to dispel the myth that money spent on speech is some kind of boogeyman in politics. Democrats who insist they are "pro-science" have also ignored the science that suggests campaign donations have little effect on elections.
But Sanders, too, is a hypocrite about money in politics. He has claimed throughout the campaign that he "doesn't' have a Super PAC," yet even the anti-Super PAC New York Times has reported that Sanders, in fact, has had more outside money backing him than any other Democratic candidate, including powerful labor union super PACs.
"Money in politics" is a smokescreen for suppressing speech and a distraction from the how the powers government has granted itself to regulate so much human activity has itself encouraged and sustained cronyism in government. In other words, the rhetoric is a potent tool in protecting cronyism. It allows those in power to limit the ability of their opponents to criticize them while blaming those opponents for corrupting the political system instead of the corrupting influence of centralizing that much power in the first place.
Clinton's increasing frustration with the Sanders campaign may reflect the troubles ahead in April. Sanders is leading in Wisconsin (voting April 5) and has pulled to within 12 points in New York (voting April 19) where Clinton, the former New York senator, previously led by double digits. Sanders was born in Brooklyn and started the New York leg of his campaign in the south Bronx last night. This is the first time on either the Democratic or Republican side since primaries started being a significant thing in the 70s. On the Republican side, Donald Trump, a life-long New Yorker, has a chance to extend his lead in the delegate count.