Citizens United and Political Corruption

Human Freedom
Human Freedom

Citizen’s United and Political Corruption

Josh Silver: Discovered: A Cure for Political Corruption

This is the strategic foundation of Represent.Us, the campaign in support of the American Anti-Corruption Act. The campaign was launched November, 2012 by the organization I run. Along with the voucher proposal, the Act would:

1) Prevent members of congress from soliciting and receiving contributions from any industry or entity they regulate;
2) Prohibit all fundraising during Congressional working hours;
3) Apply the existing $5,000 PAC contribution limit to superPACs based on the fact that they are coordinating with candidates in contradiction of the Court’s rationale (this is a potent solution to Citizens United-created spending);
4) Close the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbying industry by extending the waiting period to 5 years for members and their senior staff;
5) Expand the definition of and register all lobbyists to prevent them from skirting the rules;
6) Limit the amount that lobbyists can contribute to $500, instead of the current $2,500;
7) Disclose all contribution “bundling”;
8) Strengthen the Federal Election Commission’s independence, as well as the congressional ethics enforcement process;
9) Clamp down on 501c organizations’ political spending; and 10) make all political spending fully transparent as proposed in the current DISCLOSE Act.

Why must the Act take on so many issues? This strategy recognizes that the influence of money in politics is endemic to our current system of government. We cannot fix this by patching the holes in democracy through which money seeps in. We are already flooded. We have to recognize that the influence of money has changed the way our lawmakers think about what is possible. It shapes institutions, limits expectations, and constrains the options for decision-makers. Real change must come with a comprehensive approach that reconfigures the incentives, the pressures, and the circumstances for public governance to reflect more directly the democratic interests of the people.

Josh Silver: Discovered: A Cure for Political Corruption

I think Josh Silver has some good ideas here. But whatever you think of these particular ideas, I suspect you will agree that the system is broken and no longer serves the public interest. The infusion of money, political speech according to a truly wacky Supreme Court, has drowned out the voices of the American people and left us as helpless political onlookers. It’s time for change.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, More of Dave:

The 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates and allowed millions of dollars of corporate money to flow into campaign coffers. Costs for the 2012 presidential campaign were 6 billion dollars, up more than 7% over the 2008 election.

As far as I know, not a single banker or Wall St. financier has stood trial for his/her role in the 2008 financial crisis. When there are no consequences for bringing the world economy to its knees, we are already living in an oligarchy. That is why every person of every political persuasion has an interest in getting money out of politics as much as possible, and this begins by turning back the Citizens United decision. …

From the web site, Wendy Phillip’s Blog:

In its Opinion, the Court side-stepped the issue and refused to make a ruling on whether foreign corporations would be able to influence our political process by funding election ads.  Instead, the Court stated that there is no need to answer the question, and referred to the fact that 2 U.S.C 441(e) bans contributions and expenditures by foreign nationals. This may be true, but the operative word in 441e is “nationals”. How can this Court say that the question of whether foreign organizations can influence our Nation’s political process is best answered by 441e when 441e applies only to foreign nationals or individuals, and not corporations?  This creates a loophole for foreign corporations.  It will be interesting to see what foreign corporations will do to capitalize on this blunder by the Court.

From the web site, Citizens for Truth:

To give proper deference to legislatures, the Court could have ruled on a narrow issue. In Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party (2008), the Court had emphasized judicial restraint by stating that courts should not “formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied.” However, without regard for judicial restraint, the Court in this decision “operates with a sledge hammer rather than a scalpel when it strikes down one of Congress’ most significant efforts to regulate the role that corporations and unions play in electoral politics. It compounds the offense by implicitly striking down a great many state laws as well.”

This ruling will “cripple the ability of ….. Congress and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process.” Justice Stevens quotes Burroughs v. United States (1934), “To say that Congress is without power to pass appropriate legislation to safeguard … an election from the improper use of money to influence the result is to deny to the nation in a vital particular the power of self protection.” Therefore, both federal and state legislatures should be allowed to pass laws that regulate corporate political spending.


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