Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘campaign finance reform’

People are taking action across the country to mark the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that corporate political spending is the same thing as real speech by real people.

Left unchecked, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling will have grave consequences for our democracy. In last fall’s elections, corporate spending soared, and sources of outside spending were kept secret. This outside money was a major factor in 80 percent of the races where power changed hands.

Now, any lawmaker who is interested in standing against corporate interests has to figure out how to say ‘no’ to corporate lobbyists wielding the resources to replace him or her with a more corporate-friendly lawmaker.

But We, the People are mobilizing to fight back.

From Massachusetts to Oregon, Florida to Alaska, more than 100 demonstrations are being held throughout the nation.
Even a group of socially conscious business corporations, led by Ben & Jerry’s, is standing up to assert that we need a constitutional amendment to stop the corporate takeover of our democracy.

Nearly a million concerned citizens have signed petitions calling on Congress to pass such a constitutional amendment — petitions that will be delivered to Congress at noon today (Public Citizen’s petition is at www.DontGetRolled.org).

If you’re participating in today’s actions, be sure to take pictures, make videos, blog and tweet about what you’re doing. You can share your photos, videos and other documentation with us by sending an email to action@citizen.org, sending a tweet to @Public_Citizen or posting it on our Facebook page. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • 308: The number of outside groups, excluding party committees, that reported spending money on this year’s elections
  • 166: The number of those groups that provided any information about the sources of their funding
  • $266.4 million: The total amount spent by all outside groups in 2010 to influence this year’s elections
  • 27.1: Percentage of disclosed campaign expenditures from outside groups

Wanted: Nightlight to show voters in the dark just who was funding those attack ads
The U.S. Senate should pass a version of the DISCLOSE Act following the onslaught of undisclosed corporate campaign contributions in the 2010 elections, six good government groups said at a press conference this week at the steps of the U.S. Capitol. A version that strips some of the more controversial items from the legislation and focuses on disclosure is a vital first step to protecting the integrity of American elections, said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. Such a measure would require the funders of broadcast ads to own up to their political expenditures. At the press conference, Public Citizen also released a report showing that the amount of information available to voters about who was behind midterm attack ads was dramatically less than in previous years.

Anti-gay organizations spent nearly $1 million to oust three Iowa justices
Three Iowa Supreme Court justices lost their jobs in the midterms after five out-of-state organizations spent $948,355 to boot them from office. The groups’ gripe? They didn’t like a 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

Filmmaker Harry Hanbury considered making a series of short documentaries about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling — the one that opened the way for corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money on political advertising — but he wondered if the name “Citizens United” would resonate with the viewing public. Instead, he decided that if he was going expose the corrupting influence of money in politics, he couldn’t find a better villain than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber certainly plays the heel very well. During this past election, it bragged about what amounted to a money-laundering scheme i.e. allowing corporations to funnel anonymous contributions to the Chamber, which in turn could spend the money on candidates who support its pro-Wall Street, Big Oil, anti-regulation agenda. That way, the Chamber could be the heavy, while the anonymous corporate donors could keep their names out of the news. Add to that a Think Progress investigation that raised concerns that a small portion of the $75 million that the Chamber was spending on electioneering may have been coming from foreign entities, which, if true, would be a serious federal election law violation.

Hanbury’s documentary series, “The Loaded Chamber,” is running on GRITtv. Part 1, posted above looks at the Chamber’s role raising secret donations. Part 2, which looks at the toothless Federal Election Commission’s lack of oversight, and Part 3, which shines a light on the Chamber’s foreign cash pipeline, are posted after the jump. Hanbury, who screened his work Wednesday night at Public Citizen, promises more installments are on the way.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Of the $176.1 million spent by outside groups using large, often undisclosed contributions to influence the current elections, just 10 groups are responsible for the bulk of the spending, according to a new analysis released today by Public Citizen.

What’s more, 59.9 percent of the money comes from undisclosed sources. Of those contributions that have been disclosed, nearly two-thirds has come from just 0.12 percent of the contributors. The analysis of data from Public Citizen’s Stealth PACs database shows that: (more…)

Read Full Post »

Public Citizen, Protect Our Elections and the Center for Media and Democracy today filed a complaint against the American Future Fund, charging that the group’s “major purpose” is electioneering, which would require it to register as a political committee.

Although the Supreme Court and other federal courts have shredded most laws relating to outside groups’ electioneering activities, such a finding would at least require AFF to reveal the sources of its funds.

The group, which has spent nearly $8.8 million to influence this years elections, has so far made no such disclosure.

Such secrecy is particularly hypocritical for this group because it has broadcast ads slamming the imam behind the proposed mosque in southern Manhattan for allegedly “raising millions overseas from secret donors.” Evidently, the group believes we have more of a right to know the details of a religious organization’s finances than of a group aiming to influence our elections.

We called the group and sent an e-mail message to the address listed on its Web site (info@americanfuturefund.com) asking who its funders are. The message was returned as undeliverable.

Today’s complaint was the second Public Citizen has filed against independent electioneering groups in the past two week’s, following up on a complaint against Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS that was submitted on October 13.

Read Full Post »

This video from Public Campaign and Common Cause (hat tip to Texas Vox)  shows that there’s a lot of common ground in getting corporate money out of our elections and passing the Fair Elections Now Act.

Read Full Post »

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent this week in new independent expenditures: $6.6 million
  • Amount the committee has spent to date: $19 million
  • The amount the committee is expected to spend before Election Day: $52 million
  • Amount that just two Republican groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, have raised to influence the elections: $56 million

FEC should investigate Crossroads GPS for campaign finance law violations, watchdogs say
Crossroads GPS, an organization created by Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie to influence the midterm elections with huge expenditures of money, appears to be violating federal campaign law, Public Citizen and Protect Our Elections told the Federal Election Commission in a complaint filed this week.

SuperPacs are debasing our democracy‎
When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in January, Public Citizen predicted that corporations were sure to accept the court’s invitation to overrun the political process. We were hardly alone in offering this prognostication. Nine months later, we concede: Things are much, much worse than we anticipated. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Today’s Flickr Photo

 

From an Oxfam campaign on sustainability and climate change. Flickr photo by Oxfam International.

 

If you read one thing today . . .

While the GOP is the party mostly benefiting from the flood of anonymous corporate donations being collected and spent this year on political ads, the WaPo’s Sue Marcus points out that just six years ago the Democrats were the party being accused of running roughshod through campaign finance regulations. There’s little moral high ground for Dems  in the debate over reforming our campaign finance rules. Marcus writes:

Let’s not be naive, though. Unlike most Republicans, Democrats have long supported campaign finance reform; for that they deserve enormous credit. But campaign cash is where the hardball hits the mitt. For decades, both parties and their allies have demonstrated a hardheaded willingness to exploit and stretch existing campaign finance laws. To expect otherwise is to expect lions not to eat zebras when the opportunity arises. The ethics — and the expressions of ethical outrage — are purely situational.

Democrats are not playing the outside group game this election — but it would be awkward to do so while blasting Republicans. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama discouraged the formation of outside groups — but his fundraising juggernaut meant he didn’t need them.

The real villains of the current mess are a tax code that gives way too much leeway for secret and unlimited political cash and a regulatory regime that has proved itself incapable of stemming the flow.

Overheard:

From  Jennifer Steinhauer and Carl Hulse in the New York Times comes a look at House Minority Leader John Boehner’s humble Ohio roots:

“Growing up, we were probably Kennedy Catholics because we were a strong devout Catholic family,” said Bob Boehner, the congressman’s older brother, who like all his siblings eventually switched party allegiance. “But the first time you get a real job and get your paycheck, you look down and you wonder, where’s the rest of your money, and they explain to you that that’s the tax you have to pay to the government, you start thinking more and more about becoming a Republican.”

Read Full Post »

Republican strategist Karl Rove has boasted on Fox News that the two organizations he co-created are great places for donors to turn when they have maxed out on giving to Republican committees trying to influence the upcoming elections. The trouble is, one of Rove’s groups, Crossroads GPS, is not supposed to be focused on political activity because of the tax code under which it was set up. Still, both groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, are spending like there’s no tomorrow on political ads.

This afternoon, Public Citizen and Protect Our Elections filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission asking the agency to investigate whether Crossroads GPS is breaking numerous campaign finance laws, including failing to register as a political committee, failing to file committee financial disclosure reports and failing to comply with the political committee organizational requirements. (Read the press release.)

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said:

“American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are this year’s poster children for everything wrong with our campaign finance system in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The decision paved the way for unlimited corporate spending on elections, and more generally signaled that Wild West rules now prevail for elections. Yet Crossroads GPS manages to transgress the modest rules still in place, failing to register with the Federal Election Commission as a political committee. We need the FEC to act to redress this apparently wrongful activity. More than that, we need Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, so we know which corporations and billionaires are behind the attack ads now polluting our airwaves. We need Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act, to replace the private election financing system now poisoning our democracy. And we need a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and get corporate money out of elections.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United has ushered in (more…)

Read Full Post »

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

Groups demonstrate in front of U.S. Chamber
A lively demonstration was held in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week to protest the Chamber’s reported use of foreign money to pay for campaign attack ads. The Chamber is raising tens of millions of dollars to help Republicans take back Congress.

The Chamber fires back
The Chamber launched a broadside on Think Progress, which issued the above mentioned report about the Chamber using foreign money (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »