Amount the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent on lobbying in 2009: $120 million
Amount Chamber spent daily to defeat health care reform in the weeks before its passage: $800,000
Amount Chamber plans to spend to influence the fall congressional elections: $50 million
Senate Republicans block DISCLOSE Act; Public Citizen urges reconsideration
Last week in the U.S. Senate, partisan politics prevailed over the public interest as all Republican senators marched in lockstep to the orders of their leaders and blocked a vote on the DISCLOSE Act. This will have serious ramifications in November. There will be no disclosure of who is behind the expected onslaught of corporate spending in the 2010 elections – an onslaught created by the recent disastrous Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Voters will be left clueless as to who is funding the “independent” TV ads promoting and attacking candidates and how much these secretive funders are paying for these ads. Public Citizen is calling for the bill to be reconsidered.
House committee passes important checks on corporate spending on elections
Following the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) introduced the Shareholder Protection Act, which would give a corporation’s shareholders – you know, the ones who actually own the company – a say on how their money is spent.
Coal companies plan to use Citizens United to defeat Dems
Several coal companies are considering taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to amass money to defeat Democratic candidates for Congress, McClatchy reports. The companies plan to create a nonprofit “527” group, so named because of the section of the tax code they plan to use. Being a 527 means they won’t have to disclose details of what they do until the fall elections are well over.
Arizona business groups looking to influence elections
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, some Arizona business groups are exploring ways to influence elections. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Arizona Builders Association and several companies have formed groups to use to support candidates. However, the identities of groups funding ads will be revealed; after the Citizens United decision was handed down, Arizona lawmakers passed a law requiring that the names of groups paying for TV ads, mailings, newspaper ads and other similar materials to be made public.
Ten states pass disclosure laws in wake of Citizens United
Ten states have passed laws in response to Citizens United requiring disclosure of the names of groups behind political ads. The extent of disclosure requirements varies; in Iowa, the name of the corporation and its CEO must appear in any ads the company pays for. Other states that have passed disclosure laws are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, South Dakota and West Virginia. Washington state had a disclosure law but broadened it.
In lead-up to November elections, businesses pick their targets
With the newfound power to influence elections, Big Business is deciding just how it wants to dish out the big bucks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has committed to spend $75 million to influence the midterm elections, and health insurers are gearing up to jump in the game, as well. And their targets? Mainly Democrats.