Posts Tagged ‘money in politics’

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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Corporate America is raking in higher profits than ever before.

On Capitol Hill, lobbyists are calling for cuts to line the pockets of the super-rich while gouging holes in the safety net for those hit hardest by the Great Recession.

And in January, a new Congress will arrive — a Congress stacked with members whose campaigns reaped the benefits of the limitless corporate money unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s time for We, the People to take a stand.

Join us next month in demonstrations against Corporate America on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. To stay in the loop on planning and preparations, sign up at www.citizen.org/i-will-stand-up-to-corporate-america.

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Today’s Flickr Photo:

Flickr photo by Sifu Renka

If you read one thing today . . .

The wining and dining that lobbyists imparted on lawmakers hardly surprise Washington insiders. But when a glimpse of the influence infiltrated outside the Beltway during the trial of former House majority leader Tom DeLay, Texas jurors didn’t like what they saw. They learned of DeLay’s flights on corporate jets, meetings at resorts and a flood of corporate cash fluffing his campaign coffers. In the end, they convicted him on felony charges of conspiracy and money-laundering. What does this mean on a larger scale?

“We tried to present the context,” Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis, Texas, district attorney who oversaw the prosecution, told The Washington Post. This included DeLay’s role in founding the PAC and its solicitations of corporations, as well as the political rewards that he reaped. She said, however, that while it’s true “citizens are tired of the large amounts of money and particularly corporate money that are being put into the political arena,” the jury’s judgment was based on evidence that such funds were sent to Washington and then brought back to Texas in a deliberate effort to evade the state’s absolute prohibition on their use in elections.


Wikileaks again topped headlines this week when the group released a host of cables revealing insights into American diplomacy. What’s on tap next for the controversial nonprofit media organization? Rumor has it, Bank of America is on deck to be Wikileaks’ next target. Although BofA refutes the whispers, that didn’t stop its shares from tumbling 3 percent yesterday. As financial blogger Barry Ritholtz put it,

Here is the sad reality: Can you really embarrass any of these banks? They were incompetently run, with criminally inept risk management. They blew themselves up, and exist today only due to the largesse of the taxpayer. They gratefully took all they could grab and more.

What else can you release to embarrass them?

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We’ve seen an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm in recent weeks for our effort to build a grassroots movement for a constitutional amendment to restore free speech and fair elections to the people.

In our recent survey, activists across the nation expressed interest in supporting our effort to undo the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission by gathering petition signatures.

So we created a printer-friendly version of the constitutional amendment petition (PDF), a tip sheet about how to gather petition signatures and a web page where activists can pledge to collect signatures.

We’re already coordinating with activists in Washington, D.C., who are planning to help us gather signatures at several events, including Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. And we’re encouraging activists across the nation to help build the movement by gathering signatures in their own communities.

Petitioning is a fundamental way to show Congress and others in power that the American people demand action against the threat to our democracy posed by the flood of unlimited corporate money into our elections. And we’re convinced that once they hear about it, millions more will join this cause.

As Americans gather this fall for events ranging from local festivals and concerts to political rallies and demonstrations, everyone can play a critical role by collecting signatures.

So take the pledge to gather signatures for the Don’t Get Rolled petition. If you have any questions or ideas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at action@citizen.org.

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As campaign finance continues to cause heated debate amongst party leaders, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is quickly becoming the poster child for corporate influence on Capitol Hill.

On Saturday, The New York Times detailed the strong ties between corporate lobbyists and Boehner. His inner circle includes representatives from some of the biggest companies in the country, like R.J. Reynolds, Miller Coors and Goldman Sachs.

They have raised huge pots of money for him, of course. For instance, at least $340,000 donated to Boehner’s political campaigns came from the pockets of people closely affiliated with the tobacco industry. Boehner’s relationship with the tobacco industry dates back to 1996, when he was caught handing out checks from large tobacco companies to fellow Republicans on the of the House of Representatives.

Notable also is Boehner’s travel record. Over the past decade, the representative has taken approximately 41 trips, mostly to resort golf destinations – all sponsored by various corporations and industry groups.

Fundraising for Mr. Boehner is especially important to watch as he begins his campaign to be Speaker of the House if Republicans attain the majority after November’s elections. His “Boehner for Speaker” campaign, launched in June this year, has already raised almost $2 million.

“While many lawmakers in each party have networks of donors, lobbyists and former aides who now represent corporate interests, Mr. Boehner’s ties seem especially deep,” the Times wrote. “His clique of friends and current and former staff members even has a nickname on Capitol Hill, Boehner Land. The members of this inner circle said their association with Mr. Boehner translates into open access to him and his staff.”

While the concept of ‘Boehner may be a running joke in the representative’s large inner-circle, the idea is a nightmare to anyone who fears more corporate involvement in Congress.

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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.


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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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A new video from our friends at FairElectionsNow.org features real people describing in their own words the profound impact of corporate corruption in Washington. You can see from the video that big agriculture, corporate coal and BP are all playing the money game to make government work for them and not the American public.

As long as members of Congress must rely on donations from corporations and lobbyists to fund their campaigns, these special interests will continue to have a huge advantage over real people when it comes to finding policy solutions for the people’s problems.

After you watch the video, urge your members of Congress to end the political money chase by supporting public financing of elections via the Fair Elections Now Act at http://www.citizen.org/supportfairelectionsnow.

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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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