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'We won't be boxed in by a double standard'

Despite Democrats criticizing Republicans for creating outside groups that can raise unlimited funds without disclosing their donors -- like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS can do -- Democrats are now copying their efforts.

As we reported earlier, former Obama White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney -- along with Democratic operatives Paul Begala and Geoff Garin -- have unveiled two different groups: Priorities USA (which doesn't have to disclose donors) and Priorities USA Action (which does).

A Democrat passes along a memo that Burton and Sweeney have released explaining why they created the groups:

Our groups were formed to answer the hundreds of millions of dollars Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have dedicated to spending in the 2012 election. In 2010, Republicans spent millions distorting the debate on important issues and running vicious, dishonest attack ads. This is an effort to level the playing field and not allow right-wing activists to hijack the political system. We are simply trying to give an equal voice to the American middle-class and supporting policies that reflect America's core value of fairness.

[snip]

In the Citizens United ruling, the right-leaning Supreme Court created a new set of rules that allows individuals to give as much as they want and remain anonymous should they choose. Karl Rove and the Koch brothers then chose to exploit this decision to press their right-wing agenda without accountability. While we agree that fundamental campaign finance reforms are needed, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers cannot live by one set of rules as our values and our candidates are overrun with their hundreds of millions of dollars. We will comply with all applicable rules and laws but we won’t be boxed in by a double standard.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, charged hypocrisy. "Last year, Obama’s White House and hard left allies launched a coordinated PR and legal assault on non-disclosing conservative groups – and now, just six months later, Obama’s own political operatives are launching the very type of groups they demagogued as 'shadowy threats to democracy.' Obama’s brazen hypocrisy, in encouraging his own operatives to start groups exactly like the ones he demagogued last year, shows how cynical this President can be when it comes to perpetuating his own power."

*** UPDATE *** A Republican passes along this quote from Burton last year, when he served as President Obama's deputy press secretary: "Unless a bright light is shined on the shadowy activity of these outside groups, people aren’t going to know the facts, which is that with their complete lack of transparency, lord knows who’s participated in these races. And the president thinks that if you’re going to participate in politics, you ought to be transparent about it."