Britain's Cameron Responds to Cash-For-Access Accusation


During that speech, Cameron pledged to shine "the light of transparency" on lobbying so that politicians come "clean about who is buying power and influence."

The video of Cruddas, Cameron's critics argued, shows that Cameron's party has flouted that promise. Cruddas' own words seem to suggest that donors could get immediate access if they offered enough money, quickly.

"Things will open up for you, but you need to go in,'' he said to the reporters posing as would-be donors, making a motion with his hand seemingly meant to urge them to begin with a large donation. "It's no good scratching around; '10 grand now, and we'll send you 5 grand.' Minimum, 100 grand. Minimum."

Cruddas' promises of access seem to echo those made on the official Conservative Party website. For the equivalent of $79,000, donors become part of the "Leader's Group." "Members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches," the website promises.

Cameron has not only been criticized by his traditional media and political opponents. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Sunday Times, Britain's largest newspaper, as well as The Sun, and Fox News, and who was, until recently, considered close to Cameron, took to Twitter with apparent glee over his paper's scoop.

"What was Cameron thinking? No-one, rightly or wrongly, will believe his story," Murdoch quipped.

A few hours later, Murdoch added: "Without trust, democracy and order will go. Of course there must be a full independent inquiry on both sides. In great detail, and with consequences. Trust must be established."

Today, Cameron promised to tighten rules restricting when donors are allowed to offer advice on policy and to limit individual political donations to $79,000.

His allies continued to argue that access for donors does not equate to policy change -- and that Cruddas was not following party rules. Cruddas had only held his post, they said, for a month before he resigned.

"The key thing to say about Peter Cruddas is that actually what he was saying was both wrong and not true," Francis Maude, whose role as Cabinet Minister is similar to that of the White House Chief of Staff, argued on British network ITV. "He had been told that there are very strict rules around how you raise money and he was off on a bit of private enterprise there."

The money raised and spent by political parties in the United Kingdom has risen in recent years, but is a fraction to that spent in the United States. Cameron's Conservative Party spent about $26 million during the 2010 elections, double the amount spent by Labour. During the U.S. election this year, President Obama is expected to raise at least $1 billion.

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