US Senator Sinema Reportedly Targeted With Ads From 'Dark Money' Group Over Filibuster Stance
00:57 GMT 30.07.2021 (Updated: 13:21 GMT 06.08.2022)
The Senate filibuster - a legislative mechanism used in the US Senate to defend a minority stance - has become a stumbling block for lawmakers with parties, since some suggesting its preservation, and others arguing that it undermines voting rights.
US Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a rare advocate of preserving the filibuster within her party, landed in hot water over her stance, and has become the target of condemnatory political ads by the Just Democracy group, which, according to Fox News
, is bankrolled by a foreign organization headed by a Swiss billionaire.
Just Democracy, which describes itself as a social justice coalition "mobilizing to unrig our unjust system that continues to lock Black and Brown people out", revealed last week
that it would launch a "six-figure ad campaign" against Sinema "for prioritizing the filibuster over voting rights for Black and Brown Arizonans."
One of the ads claims that "instead of getting things done", Sinema causes "more gridlock" due to her stance on the filibuster. In the video, a black pastor claims that the senator has become a "problem".
According to Fox News, Just Democracy is one of the projects launched by "dark money group Sixteen-Thirty Fund", bankrolled by a Swiss billionaire, Hansjörg Wyss, who is said to have pumped $135 million into the group between 2016 and 2020. The group also reportedly threw $1.3 million behind lobbyists promoting Democrat election overhaul bill, dubbed S1, also known as For The People Act.
Sinema Under Fire
Sinema put herself in the crosshairs of fellow Democrats after publishing an op-ed in The Washington Post
, in which she appeared to defend the mechanism of the filibuster - something that saw Republicans and Democrats clash in heated debate, especially in light of the latter pushing for an election reform bill.
"Instability, partisanship and tribalism continue to infect our politics", Sinema said in her op-ed. "The solution, however, is not to continue weakening our democracy’s guardrails. If we eliminate the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, we will lose much more than we gain."
She is not the only Democrat to defend the filibuster, with US President Joe Biden also refusing to speak against the mechanism
, despite noting that it is "abused" in the Senate.
While calling for increasing bipartisan cooperation, both Sinema and Biden have faced criticism for their stance. Being targeted by the Just Democracy ad campaign, the Arizona senator lost a key endorser, Attorney Grant Woods, now a Democrat, who supported Sinema in 2018 during her election campaign as a Republican.
“If you can’t do it to preserve democracy, to make sure that we have fair elections, that people are allowed to vote and that it’s not disproportionately impacting negatively on people of color and people that the republicans don’t want to vote, then why are you even there? Why are you in the Senate?” Woods questioned.
Sinema is also attacked by Democratic House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who slammed the Senator for "choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a 'bipartisan accomplishment'".
A filibuster is a form of obstruction when a member of the Senate debates a piece of legislation, preventing it from proceeding, continuing until three-fifths of the senators agree to bring the debate to a close.
Republicans earlier used the filibuster
to block the Democratic push of the S1, which envisions an expansion of voting rights, limits state rights to impose election restrictions, and expands early and mail voting.
With Democrats, Biden included, deeming the act 'critical', GOP members vehemently oppose it, asserting that it undermines election integrity and paves way for the possibility of voter fraud.