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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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.

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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.

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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…)

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