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Photo from Move to Amend rally, January 2011.

A constitutional amendment granting Congress and states the authority to enact common-sense campaign finance regulations progressed in the Senate this week, passed by a Judiciary subcommittee 5-4. Coincidentally, a new report from election experts at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law delves deep into the political effects of so much money in our system. The authors worked for more than a year interviewing former and current members of Congress, campaign and legislative staff, and other political figures.

There's a lot in the report to make it worth reading the whole thing, but here's what's possibly the most disturbing of their key findings: "Members of Congress see independent spending as a threat—usually implicit but sometimes explicit—for those who refuse to toe the line of outside groups."

What does that lead to? Here's a handful of former members explaining:

"When Club for Growth first came out we used to laugh about them, we used to chuckle on the floor… But, after the Citizens United case, they became….much more active….if you didn't behave in a certain way they would come into your district and spend a lot of money to make sure you were defeated in the primary."—Former Rep. Steve LaTourette (p. 87-88)

"You're already threatened.... You're sitting there saying ... is Americans for Prosperity going to advertise against me in a primary, yes or no?....If you're sitting there making a decision, [thinking]… we'd better do something about it, but if I do something about it, I know the Koch brothers are going to run an ad against me. I know they're going to put a lot of money to try to defeat me in a primary. I know it… They don't have to threaten me…the net effect is the same. I'm afraid to do what I think is right."—Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who ran for Senate again in 2012 (p. 82)

That's exactly what these groups want—to put that fear into the hearts of lawmakers. The far-right groups—the ones that have the really serious money in this game, like the Kochs—have had tremendous success at that. Just look at the Republican House, or even the degree of obstruction by Senate Republicans since 2009. There's an ideological line to toe if they want to keep their jobs. And that's not even getting into the issue of how many people are kept out of politics because of the overwhelming amounts of money involved.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (34+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:29:46 PM PDT

  •  I've always thought that what was going on (6+ / 0-)

    was a lot like bribery. It appears it may be more like extortion.

    "I guess you think you can psych me out by saying really random stuff." -Sora, Hollow Bastion, KH2

    by SphericalXS on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:37:18 PM PDT

  •  And look at (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Mannie

    veteran Republican politicians like McConnell and Cornyn quaking in their boots and pandering to the extremists for fear of this glut of oligarchic money.

    I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again. - Oscar Wilde

    by penelope pnortney on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:38:59 PM PDT

  •  That's just the tip of the iceberg (0+ / 0-)

    IMO.

    but yeah, the big money/big media connection is ugly and basically controls everything.

    Except then there's Brat. Hmmm.

    There is no way for a citizen of a Republic to abdicate his responsibilities. ---Edward R. Murrow

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 03:32:29 PM PDT

  •  Calgary Cruz (aka The Missing Koch Brother) (0+ / 0-)

    Has already slammed this amendment citing loss of the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech (translation: political bribery)

  •  Its the same playbook as the NRA. (0+ / 0-)

    The threat is stronger than its execution.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 07:48:06 PM PDT

  •  It's not just Republican primaries. (5+ / 0-)

    The threat of this kind of outside money drives many Dems in close districts to cast seemingly crazy votes simply to avoid feeding the Kochtupus' advertising machine with "issue" material.

    Which in turn disgusts Progressives who fail to support their Dem reps.

    Unlimited money has turned electoral politics on its ear.

    War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

    by DaNang65 on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 04:20:37 PM PDT

  •  what good will it do??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NM Ray, Aunt Pat

    by art 1 Section 4.

    The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof;

    but the Congress may

    at any time by law make

    or alter such regulations,

    except as to the places of choosing Senators.

    which they did with the VRA and by creating the FEC

    all the Roberts and Co. will do is call it unconstitutional

    by the way this art and sec were not mentioned in neither the shelby vra or the citizens united or the mccucthison
    cases

    In Shambala I can see the forests & the trees

    by Joseph Westfall on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 04:28:45 PM PDT

    •  17th amendment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Toprow
      The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

      When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

      This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

      by Just Bob on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 04:45:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our problem is that we have at least 4 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, KayCeSF, Toprow

    Maybe 5 Justices on the Supreme Court, who have trouble understanding plain English. One can barely stay awake.  The Republican Party has made a joke of the Court, because they don't believe that they and their friends should be subject to the same laws as others.

    If Money is Speech, Speech isn't Free! I wonder what it is about that that Antonin Scalia cannot understand?

    by NM Ray on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 04:35:58 PM PDT

  •  Behold the great American shakedown. No wonder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Toprow, cyeko

    the rest of the world is looking askance at us; it has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with radicalism.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 04:54:32 PM PDT

  •  Otoh... (0+ / 0-)

    there's a limit to how far it can go given the current climate. If you drive the stooges like turtle out in favor of actual lunatics, you risk losing in the general. I'm sure some pols push back - "Sure, drive me out and lose to the dems" - and probably get paid better as a result, or moved to head up a think tank... Those money guys can probably be pushed around by the right kind of sociopaths - just like on TV.

    when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

    by bunsk on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 06:12:59 PM PDT

  •  How does the GOTP grow their base with high -neg? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bunsk

    In 2012 with their energy high on repealing ACA they failed. Since then the GOTP negatives have grown even higher. How do you get people to work, canvas and vote when they really don't like you. We are truly witnessing a phenomenon is our politics. Or the bottom is ready to fallout this midterm. I'm hoping for the latter.

  •  ...manana.... ;) ... (0+ / 0-)

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

    by paradise50 on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 07:16:07 PM PDT

  •  Ahem... the correct title is "THE Ohio State (0+ / 0-)

    University" not "Ohio State University".  The folks in Columbus are pretty particular about this and when you mess it up, Woody Hayes comes to haunt you...  

  •  "to put that fear into the hearts of..." (0+ / 0-)

    This is the very definition of terrorism.

  •  Not a new aproach. (0+ / 0-)

    The NRA, AIPAC and the anti-Castro Cubans have been doing this successfully for decades.   Its not just the Koch's.   Its a blight on the political system but impossible to control.

  •  And we have bought and paid (0+ / 0-)

    for puppets on the supreme court. We need to bring pressure against them... Or is there nothing we can do?

    It's only against the law...if you're a Democrat.

    by cyeko on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 07:40:09 AM PDT

  •  Hey, There's a big super PAC being led by Lawre... (0+ / 0-)

    Hey,

    There's a big super PAC being led by Lawrence Lessig to tackle this problem right now. It's mayday PAC (The PAC to end all super PACs). Check out http://mayday.us . Last month they raised one million in small dollar donations, now shooting for 5 million by July 4th.

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