Emerging from the woods and descending from the moral high ground yesterday, Hillary Clinton began her return to public life by returning to the fundraising circuit, rustling up cash for her latest initiative, Onward Together.
Unveiled on Twitter, Clinton's new group will whip the current opposition to Trump into a well-oiled political machine by raising grassroots armies, organizing demonstrations, and recruiting candidates. And notably, this new resistance will run almost exclusively off of dark money.
Onward Together is registered with the Internal Revenue Services as a 501(c)4. That filing status allows the group to accept donations without the need to disclose the identity of their donors. Contributions, as the group's website notes, "are not deductible" but they are unlimited, one of the main advantages of so-called "dark money."
Many on the right were quick to accuse Clinton of hypocrisy for soliciting shady funding. More importantly, though, the new dark money group represents a major shift in Democrats' strategy.
On the campaign trail, Clinton regularly railed against the practice. Most notably during the final presidential debate, she promised to nominate Supreme Court justices to oppose "Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system."
But Clinton regularly rejected calls to disown allied super PACs fueled by dark money as a strategic mistake. "I and others have said we're not going to unilaterally disarm," she told a 2015 crowd in Iowa, "while the Republicans and the Koch brothers are out there raising money that they don't even tell you where it came from."
Now Clinton has taken things a step farther. She's raised a dark-money beast to ostensibly deal with the problem of money in politics. But that raises an important question, will Clinton ever demobilize?
So long as the former presidential nominee — famously beloved by wealthy and big business donors, including lobbyists and Wall Streeters — marches with a grassroots army fueled by dark money, Democrats must can't credibly use the Citizens United decision as a cudgel against Republicans. And by allying with groups like Indivisible with ties to liberal mega-donor George Soros, as Clinton plans, the left can't complain about the right cashing checks from the like of the Koch brothers.
More than hypocrisy, it's a major shift in Democrat strategy tantamount to an admission. The #resistance will be bankrolled by "dark, unaccountable money."
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.