Cory Booker just took another step toward a run for president


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, criticized for campaign contributions from Wall Street and the drug industry, has sworn off corporate political action committee donations as he ponders whether to seek a run for the White House. 

Booker, D-N.J., made the announcement in a Twitter post.

He joined three other potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirstin Gillibrand of New York in such a pledge.

“This gives Senator Booker a good answer to the ‘bought by special interest’ question,” said Matthew Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University, “This is also likely in line with Senator Booker’s belief about the corrosive influence of money in politics. So good politics is important but this is also about good policy.”

It’s Booker’s latest action pointing toward a 2020 presidential run.

It’s Booker’s latest action pointing toward a 2020 presidential run.

He landed seats on the high-profile Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, introduced legislation to remove the federal ban on marijuana, embraced Sanders’ call for single-payer health insurance, and garnered national attention for his grilling of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, expressing outrage that she claimed not to have heard President Donald Trump’s racially tinged comments at an Oval Office meeting.

“Senator Booker’s decision to reject corporate PAC money demonstrates his leadership in the fight to unrig the system that’s leaving too many Americans behind.,” said Tiffany Mueller, president of End Citizens United, an advocacy group favoring stronger campaign finance regulations.

“He’s showing he will be accountable to the people and not the agenda of corporate special interests.”

More than 70 lawmakers and challengers, including New Jersey Democratic congressional candidates Andy Kim and Tom Malinowski, have pledged not to accept corporate PAC money, according to End Citizens United.

It’s not much of a sacrifice for challengers; they received just 1 percent of the $182 million that corporate PACs contributed for the 2016 elections, according to Federal Election Commission statistics.

For incumbents, it’s another story. Of $505,478 in PAC donations Booker received for his 2020 re-election, almost two-thirds, 66 percent, came from corporate committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. (Booker can transfer all of his Senate contributions to a presidential campaign account if he runs for the White House.)

The pharmaceutical industry was his biggest source of corporate PAC donations. New Jersey is home to several major drug companies,…



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