Last week, the Washington Post reported that Ralph Nader was offered money by Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Terry McAuliffe to drop out of the presidential race in 2004. Nader said in an interview that McAuliffe offered him money–which he believes were Democratic Party funds–that he could spend in 31 states if he agreed not to campaign in 19 “battle ground” states. Nader said that he immediately rejected the offer, saying that “It’s completely inappropriate. The inappropriate behavior cannot be rationalized.”
Terry McAuliffe is currently running for governor of Virginia and his campaign has denied the allegations. A McAuliffe advisor said that he “engaged in a conversation with Nader to try to convince him not to run, or at the very least to not compete in the targeted battleground states” but that he did not offer Nader money. According to media reports, McAuliffe did offer to send Nader around the country to talk about issues–on the DNC’s dime–if Nader agreed to limit his campaign. Under federal law, that is legal, although it’s pretty hard to imagine being able to justify such an offer.
While it has largely been forgotten, Democrats engaged in an aggressive campaign to keep Nader off the ballot in 2004. It included lawsuits, public appeals, and other tactics–most of which was justified under the guise that Nader was simply a “spoiler” and that he “cost” Al Gore the presidency in 2000.
How’s that for democracy? It’s the kind of slimy, anti-democratic behavior that makes so many people swear off electoral politics.