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Archive for the ‘Money & Democracy Update’ Category

Stunning Statistic of the Week:

Number of political organizations established since June to raise unlimited amounts of money to elect or defeat candidates: 33

Source.

Odd bedfellows call for earmark reform

Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Taxpayers for Common Sense and lobbyists from Holland & Knight and K&L Gates called this week for earmark reform. Campaign contributions from those that receive earmarks should be limited and congressional aides should be forbidden from attending campaign fundraisers, among other things, they said.

$500 million: Maybe this is why climate legislation failed

The oil, coal and energy industries spent $500 million since January 2009 to defeat climate legislation, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The industries’ next goal: (more…)

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Stunning Statistic of the Week:

Average amount that senators who voted for TARP and against financial reform received from the financial sector since 2007: $879,803

Source.

Most groups broadcasting elections ads violate rules, hide donors’ identities

More than two-thirds of outside groups spending heavily on electioneering communications in the 2010 elections are not reporting where they got their money – highlighting a stunning reversal in transparency of money in politics over just the past few years, a new report from Public Citizen shows. Only 32 percent of the organizations
broadcasting electioneering communications in the 2010 primary season revealed in their filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) the identities of donors funding their advertisements.

Senate GOP marches in lockstep to keep campaign funders secret

On Thursday, every single Republican senator marched in lockstep with the GOP leadership to keep (more…)

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Stunning Statistic of the Week:

Amount likely to be spent on issue ads this election season: $3 billion

Source: The Hill

Most groups don’t disclose funders of broadcast ads despite rules

It’s almost as if the folks at the Federal Election Commission have thrown up their hands and decided that policing the political spending by outside groups just isn’t worth the effort. Consider that in 2004, there was almost complete disclosure on who was paying for the issue ads flooding our airwaves. Today? Not so much. A new Public Citizen study shows that more than two-thirds of outside groups spending heavily on electioneering communications this year are not reporting who is bankrolling their ads – despite rules saying they should.

California: The buying of a ballot initiative

The suspension of California’s landmark greenhouse gas law is up for a vote, prompting out-of-state oil companies and other wealthy corporate interests to pour money into the state. The billionaire, right-wing Koch brothers (more…)

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount spent on television ads in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada since June: $7.5 million
  • Amount spent on those ads by outside groups: $2.8 million
  • Amount Republican candidate Sharron Angle has spent on ads: $2.6 million
  • Amount Reid has spent: $1.9 million
  • Source here.

    One year ago, fateful Citizens United argument was held
    A year ago this week, arguments were held before the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A lot has transpired since then. In January, the court tossed out a century’s worth of campaign finance doctrine and ruled that corporations can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. A spate of legislation has been proposed, a drive for a constitutional amendment is under way, states have had to dismantle their campaign finance laws and more.

    Corporations use charities to influence lawmakers
    Lawmakers are mixing charitable and political agendas, creating yet another loophole that ultimately allows more corporate influence in Congress, The New York Times reports. The paper found that “at least two dozen charities that lawmakers or their families helped create or run routinely accept donations from businesses seeking to influence them.” Among these corporations are AT&T, Chevron, General Dynamics, Morgan Stanley and Eli Lilly.

    (more…)

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount political parties and outside groups have spent on ads this election season: $150 million
  • Amount political parties and outside groups spent on ads at this point in 2006: $109 million
  • Percent of those ads this election season that have been negative: nearly 80 percent
  • Source here.

Video highlights effects on real people of money in politics
A new video from FairElectionsNow.org features real people describing in their own words the profound impact of corporate corruption in Washington. The video shows how big agriculture, corporate coal and BP play the money game to make government work for them – not the American public. As long as members of Congress must rely on donations from corporations and lobbyists to fund their campaigns, wealthy corporate interests will continue to have an outsized role in crafting national policies.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: Three members of Congress still in hot water with ethics committee
Enough evidence of wrongdoing exists to continue investigating the link between fundraising events and votes made by three members of Congress, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics. The office is recommending further investigation of three members of the House of Representatives who held fundraisers just days before casting votes on financial reform legislation. The three are Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.). Five other members were cleared.

Texans rally against U.S. Supreme Court ruling
Despite a heat index of 104 degrees, folks in Texas rallied recently against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the door for unlimited corporate spending to influence elections. Watch the video here.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount candidates for state and federal office spent on ads for the November elections to date: $395 million
  • Amount candidates for state and federal office spent on ads at this point in the 2006 midterms: $286 million
  • Percentage of the ads this election season that have been negative: More than 50 percent
  • Source here.

Downturn? What downturn?
Spending on political ads is expected to reach a record $4.2 billion this election season. You heard it right. That would be double what was spent two years ago during a presidential campaign year.

Patty Murray being attacked – but by whom?
Attack ads have started running against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) by something called the Committee for Truth in Politics. Trouble is, no one knows who is funding this group. (This underscores the need for the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would require funders of ads to be named.) What we do know: The group is represented by James Bopp Jr., the anti-campaign finance reform attorney who was involved in the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which resulted in the court giving corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections case. Bopp has brought other lawsuits to try to overturn campaign finance laws.

Judge upholds most Maine rules governing PACs
A federal judge has upheld most of the state’s reporting requirements governing political action committees. The judge said that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, the state may regulate corporate political speech with disclosure laws. However, the judge said that some language in Maine’s rules is unconstitutionally vague.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount News Corp., owner of Fox News, recently gave to the Republican Governors Association: $1 million
  • Amount General Electric, NBC’s owner, has given during the 2010 election cycle:* $1.69 million ($1 million to Dems, $689,600 to Republicans)
  • Amount the PAC of Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, has given: $117,000 ($75,500 to Dems, $41,500 to Republicans)
  • Amount Viacom, CBS’ parent company, and its PAC, have given: $220,200 ($134,700 to Dems, $85,500 to Republicans)
  • Amount Disney, ABC’s parent company, has given: $272,500 ($137,500 to Dems, $135,000 to Republicans)
    *Contribution numbers include money given to candidates, political action committees (PACs), gubernatorial associations and campaign committees during the 2010 election cycle.

DISCLOSE Act likely to come up again in September
Look for the DISCLOSE Act to come up again in September. You may recall that the House of Representatives passed it in July, but Senate Republicans blocked a vote on it. Public interest groups, including Public Citizen, urged the Senate to reconsider. If the act doesn’t become law until September or October, it won’t have any effect on the fall’s elections – something that advocates are hoping will push wavering Republicans into voting for it. The DISCLOSE Act was passed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations approval to spend as much money as they want to defeat or elect candidates. The act would require disclosure of which companies are behind ads and fliers.

Database now available of corporate political spending policies
New York City’s public advocate Bill de Blasio has created a database of the country’s largest corporations as well as their spending policies. Companies range from Apple and Alcoa to Kraft and Merck. De Blasio is urging people to demand that companies refrain from spending corporate money on politics. So far, the list of companies that have said they won’t spend on elections is really short.

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