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Posts Tagged ‘Fair Elections’

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $4 million: The amount U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski raised during the 2010 election cycle
  • $1.26 million: The amount spent by a super political action committee (PAC) sponsored by Alaskans Standing Together to re-elect Murkowski. Much of that came from corporations.
  • $250,000: What Murkowski’s own PAC raised
  • Nearly $2 million: What Murkowski’s opponent, Joe Miller, raisedNote: Murkowski won a long-shot write-in campaign.

Although clamoring for change, these new lawmakers go straight for the cash
They came in as renegades, determined to upset the system and do things differently. Washington – Congress in particular – won’t do business as usual any more, they vowed. So what are the tea partiers and others who were swept into office on anti-incumbency fervor during the midterm elections doing now? Holding big-money fundraisers, of course. And many of those who newcomers are beefing up their staffs with well-entrenched K Street lobbyists. “Lobbyists for the most part are hired guns that represent corporations and other special interests that pay for them,” Craig Holman, money and politics expert at Public Citizen, told The Washington Post. “Those lobbyists now have direct access to the political agenda of these lawmakers.”

U.S. Chamber’s aggressive tactics prompt consternation by local chambers
The U.S. Chamber was unabashedly aggressive in its attempt to sway the midterms and in particular help conservatives get elected. But its tactics made many of its local affiliates uncomfortable. More than 40 local chambers distanced themselves during the elections from the U.S. Chamber, including (more…)

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • 69: Number of preliminary reviews conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics over the past two years
  • 11: Number of disciplinary actions meted out by the House ethics committee during that time
  • 10: Number of disciplinary actions meted out by the House ethics committee between 1997 and 2008, before the Office of Congressional Ethics was created

U.S. Supreme Court takes aim at Arizona clean elections law
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging Arizona’s clean elections law. Under the system, if candidates forgo private fundraising and adhere to spending limits, they can receive public money after raising a set number of $5 donations. The law permits candidates to receive extra money if their opponent spends more than a certain amount. Good government advocates worry that the Supreme Court is gearing up to once again erode laws designed to curb corporate influence of elections.

U.S. Chamber’s election spending raises eyebrows among shareholders
Investors in four corporations that sit on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – IBM, Pfizer, Pepsi and Accenture – are raising concerns about the Chamber’s political spending and agenda. Through the shareholder resolutions, investors challenged their corporate boards to review their policies relating to political expenditures. One of the resolution’s filers said in a press release that “[t]he Chamber of Commerce is an aggressively (more…)

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From David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division:

We applaud the House Committee on Administration for approving the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 6116), sponsored by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones (R-NC). The Fair Elections Now Act has been sponsored by more than 160 House members, sailed through congressional hearings and is now being readied for a possible floor vote. A companion bill (S. 752), sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), also is making headway.

At no time in United States history has a congressional public funding bill received so much support and enthusiasm in Congress. The reasons are clear. Poll after poll shows that large majorities of Americans across the political spectrum are fed up with the influence of big money in politics. The public also was stunned by a January U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that authorized unlimited corporate spending on elections. Broad majorities of voters support legislative responses to Citizens United – and even a constitutional amendment to undo its harms.

Americans desperately want their elected officials to serve the public interest, not the narrow (more…)

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It has been a long, long haul for Congress to fashion a legislative response to the devastating Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which unleashed a flood of unlimited corporate money in elections. Finally, we could almost see the horizon for a legislative response.

After months of prolonged negotiations among congressional leaders and civic groups, they finally produced the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175), legislation designed largely to require full transparency of who is funding campaign ads by corporations, unions and advocacy groups. The House Administration held two hearings in two weeks on the DISCLOSE Act, marked it up in near-final form, and sent it to the House Rules Committee on Thursday to set the terms of the floor debate, which was expected today (Friday).

Thirty minutes before the Rules Committee was scheduled to hold its hearing, I received notice from a colleague outside the Rules Committee room that a sign has been posted on the door:

“Committee Meeting Postponed until Further Notice.”

Turns out we are nowhere near the horizon. (more…)

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Originally posted at TexasVox.org:

I’ve heard it said that churches are supposed to make bad men good and good men better. Our campaign finance system seems to do the opposite: make good men bad and bad men worse (ie, Governors Richardson and Blagojevich, respectively). As far back as Socrates, outside observers have noticed the corruptive influence of money on public policy. Our public servants worshiping at the altar of campaign donations is sure path to hell for most of us. But the fact that we force them to do so by not providing a public financing system begs the question: Are we getting what we deserve?

As Richardson withdraws his name for consideration of being Commerce Secretary, more and more details are coming out about his ethical problems. Did he take campaign donations that changed his votes? Possibly, or at least there’s enough of an ethical cloud there that no one can know for sure.

And that’s the problem with how we finance our campaigns. No one can ever be truly sure that their Legislators, Representatives, Senators, Mayors, Governors, or Presidents are taking a position because of the merits of the proposals themselves, or because someone with deep pockets convinced them that’s how they should vote. The same can be said of incoming Senatorial appointee Roland Burris. It’s surely not his fault that Blagojevich is a slimeball, but the public just can’t be certain that he was appointed based on his merits alone and not because Blagojevich had some ulterior motive.

The only way to remove all doubt is by supporting public financing. We can only hope during this next Congress that we see some real leadership on this issue so that We the People can know that we are, indeed, still the ones in charge of our government and not the other way around.

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