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Posts Tagged ‘Campaign Finance’

Join Public Citizen on the campus of George Washington University on Tuesday, May 4, for a free preview screening of Casino Jack and the United States of Money.

This new documentary from Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) tells the story of notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff and reveals just how profoundly money can corrupt lawmakers in Washington.

Watch the trailer and RSVP to reserve your seat at www.citizen.org/CasinoJack.

WHAT: Free screening of the new documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. Discussion begins at 9 p.m.

WHERE: George Washington University, Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St. NW, Washington, D.C.)

Following the screening, Public Citizen’s Angela Canterbury will join a panel for conversation about the corrupting influence of money in politics and the solutions. If you can’t attend the screening, you can still participate in the discussion online at www.citizen.org/CasinoJack at 9 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, May 4.

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With high-profile coverage in The Progressive and other news sources, both a constitutional amendment and the anticipated bill from congressional Democrats in response to Citizens United v. FEC, received significant attention this week.

In a video released by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Co.),  the senator pledges support for a constitutional amendment allowing Congress to regulate corporate contributions and expenditures. He also states his support for the proposal by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), which would require CEOs to stand by their ads, quick disclosure and sunshine rules, and would place restrictions on foreign corporations and TARP recipients.

In Bloomberg News, Public Citizen’s Craig Holman was quoted on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to the anticipated Van Hollen-Schumer measure: “The Chamber is going to end up with at least one very undesirable element: The public is going to know exactly which corporations are the major funders,” said Craig Holman, who handles campaign finance issues for Public Citizen, a Washington group that supports more regulation of political giving. (more…)

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Newly empowered by the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate executives are ready to spend unprecedented millions to influence upcoming elections.

If you or someone you know has a 401(k), a similar retirement account or other investments, the corporations funded by these investments could be part of the problem.

Don’t let families’ nest eggs become political weapons for the corporate agenda. If a majority of shareholders tell a corporation to stay out of politics, then the corporation should do exactly that.

Corporations aren’t people, but shareholders are. The Shareholder Protection Act (H.R. 4790) proposed by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) would empower shareholders to vote on whether or not to allow executives to spend corporate money on political campaigns. (more…)

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GOP Senator Richard Shelby has given up any pretense about big money’s ability to buy votes on Capitol Hill.

In response to complaints from the American Bankers Association that proposed regulations moving forward in Washington might actually prioritize the public’s well-being over Wall Street’s profits, Shelby urged them to donate to the senate campaign of his colleague, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

From Reuters:

Asked what bankers could do to change the agenda, Shelby said, “What you can do is elect more Republicans to the U.S. Senate, that would help immensely.” He asked each of the attendees to send $10,000 to Roy Blunt, a former House leader who is now running for Senate as a Republican in Missouri. (more…)

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If corporations are people, does that mean they can run for public office? We’ll find out soon enough. The p.r. firm Murray Hill Inc., has announced through its “designated person,” Eric Hensal, its intention to run as the Republican candidate in this year’s election against Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Under the banner, “Corporations are people too!”, Hensal rallied with Public Citizen on that cold, rainy day in Annapolis, Md., for a constitutional amendment and legislative action to fix damage the Supreme Court did in its Citizens United v. FEC decision.

Listen to the latest interview with Hensal on his tongue-in-cheek campaign for corporate representation on NPR.org, and spread the word about our campaign to get corporate money out of politics.

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In today’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Committee on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, attorney Jeffrey Clements submitted testimony on behalf of Free Speech for People (a campaign sponsored by Public Citizen, Voter Action, the Center for Corporate Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance). This testimony makes for insightul reading for anyone interested in educating themselves about the decision — in particular, the details on the decision’s consequences are chilling:

What is the likely impact of Citizens United’s “radical departure” from this understanding? The data suggest the consequences if the American people do not — or, according to the Court, cannot — control corporate money in politics:

• According to the 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States, post-tax corporate profits in 2005 were almost $1 trillion.

• During the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 100 companies — the 100 largest corporations — alone had combined revenues of $13.1 trillion and profits of $605 billion.

• In contrast, during the same 2008 cycle, all political parties combined spent $1.5 billion and all of the federal PACs or political action committees, spent $1.2 billion.

If we take only the profit of the 100 largest corporations alone, those corporations would need less than 2 percent of their $605 billion in profit to make political expenditures that would double all current political spending by all of the parties and all of the federal PACs. Another way to look at it: Assume the 100 largest corporations wished to double — and therefore, swamp — President Obama’s 2008 record fundraising effort, much of it from small, individual contributions. That would require shaving a little more than the slightest fraction — 1/100 — off the top of corporate profits from those 100 corporations. (more…)

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As we build the movement to pass a Constitutional Amendment to rein in corporate power in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, there are several legislative measures on the table to mitigate the problem in the short term. Congress should act on these measures quickly to lessen the impact of massively increased corporate spending anticipated in the 2010 elections.

One of these measures is shareholder protection. U.S. P.I.R.G.’s Lisa Gilbert points out in the Huffington Post that nearly half of all American households own stock.  If the corporations in which they own stock want to spend money from their general treasuries to influence elections, the shareholders — who are the real owners of these corporations — should have a say.

Gilbert goes on to make a very compelling case for the kind of shareholder protection that Congress could enact though Rep. Mike Capuano’s (D-MA) proposed Shareholder Protection Act (H.R. 4357).

First, the right to a fair return on their investment, and secondly (and most ironically in the context of Citizens United), the first amendment right to remain silent in political debate or to support a candidate of their choosing. When a CEO chooses to use corporate money to support causes which may be antithetical to a given shareholder’s wishes, in essence he or she is violating the shareholder’s first amendment rights. (more…)

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