Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter spoke out Wednesday about the 2016 presidential campaign, calling out Republican front-runner Donald Trump by name and blaming a Supreme Court decision for letting "legal bribery" corrupt the campaign finance system. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Carter said he saw the parties' focus on funding as the most significant change in American politics since he left office in 1981, the Guardian reported.
“I didn’t have any money. Now there is a massive infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns for all the candidates," Carter said in London. "Some candidates like Trump can put in his own money, but others have to be able to raise $100 million to $200 million just to get the Republican or Democratic nomination."
Carter went on to blame the "erroneous" 2010 Citizens United decision that said corporations'' and unions' political spending was protected under the First Amendment. “As the rich people finance the campaigns, when candidates get in office they do what the rich people want," he added. "And that’s to let the rich people get richer and richer and the middle class get left out."
Carter has been criticizing the U.S. campaign finance system for years. In 2012, he called Citizens United "the most stupid decision that the Supreme Court ever made," according to the Hill. In August, he described the U.S. government as "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery."
The former president's claim that he didn't raise much money when running against then-President Gerald Ford in 1976 was rated "mostly true" by fact-checking site PolitiFact in 2013. Laws in force at the time enabled Carter and Ford to agree to accept $20 million in federal funding for their general election campaigns if they didn't solicit private donations and didn't spend too much. Carter did, however, raise $13.8 million in the primary campaign and ask for money for the Democratic National Committee, according to PolitiFact.
According to the Federal Election Commission website, all candidates have raised about $431 million total for this cycle so far — $238 million for Republicans and $193 million for Democrats.