Front groups are breaking rules on campaign spending — but does anyone care?
Angela Bradbery, citizenvox.org -- Sept 24, 2010
Most groups broadcasting elections ads violate rules, hide donors’ identities
More than two-thirds of outside groups spending heavily on electioneering communications in the 2010 elections are not reporting where they got their money – highlighting a stunning reversal in transparency of money in politics over just the past few years, a new report from Public Citizen shows.
Here's someone who cares about the Citizens United decision:
President Barack Obama stated that the decision "gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington -- while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates."
"this ruling strikes at our democracy itself" and "I can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest".
So why has the President been so vocal about the Supreme Court decision that enables Corporate Interests to have a theoretical "unlimited impact" on the election campaigning process?
Well, perhaps it's because, if Corporations no longer have "spending limits" regarding their "political speech" -- What's to stop them from Buying-the-Election ... as Nancy Pelosi puts it?
Well, not very much really, except for some "minimal disclosure requirements" thankfully still left intact, under the parts of McCain-Feingold act -- not yet dismantled by the Roberts Court:
Court Unlikely To Stop With Citizens United
Today's Ruling On Corporate Election Spending Doesn't Bode Well For Other Campaign Regulations
by Eliza Newlin Carney, nationaljournal.com -- Jan 21, 2010
Campaign reform advocates stunned by the Supreme Court's sweeping rejection of existing limits on political spending are taking comfort in two small consolations.
First, while the court threw out decades-old constraints on corporations and unions today in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that at least force those expenditures into the public eye.
Second, the court's dramatic reversal does not threaten the existing ban on direct corporate and union campaign contributions. So while those players may now lavish money from their treasuries on independent campaign expenditures, .
"It upholds the disclosure provisions for all of the spending, it upholds the soft money ban." Referring to the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, he added: "It removes a piece of the McCain-Feingold architecture, but it leaves much of it intact."
But it's an open question how meaningful or effective disclosure requirements will be in a regime that allows corporations and unions to spend freely in campaigns. And with other campaign finance challenges in the pipeline, and the high court so clearly disposed to deregulation, it may only be a matter of time before other election restrictions topple.
OK, So WHAT exactly do the Corporate Speech promoters, still have to report or disclose?
Campaign disclosure rules upheld
Lyle Denniston Reporter, scotusblog.com -- Jan 21, 2010
The Supreme Court’s ruling on campaign finance upheld these requirements:
-- Disclosure requirement: Any corporation that to produce or air the kind of election season ad covered by federal restrictions must file a report with the Federal Election Commission or more to the ad’s preparation or distribution.
-- Disclaimer requirement: If a political ad is not authorized by a candidate or a political committee, the broadcast of the ad must say who is responsible for its content, behind the ad.
Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter as the Court upheld those requirements.
Thankfully the Democrats in Congress, did not think these reporting and disclosure requirements went far enough, to protect the Speech, of real breathing, People.
The Dems designed a Bill -- the Disclose Act -- to put some teeth into the effort to prevent the E-Bay-itazation of Our Elections ...
DISCLOSE Act – The Legislative "Fix" to Citizens United
The Federalist Society -- New Federal Initiatives Project
Allison R. Hayward -- May 10, 2010
The DISCLOSE Act contains two main features.
First, it requires corporations to include certain notices in their expenditures and file additional disclosure reports. These provisions, the authors assert, will enhance the information available to voters about what interests are behind any specific ad.
The sponsors note that without additional notices, a corporation could "hide" behind the name of a shell organization. Viewers would not know that the message was from a specific corporation and would be unable to evaluate the credibility of the message.
Moreover, the CEO of a corporation making an expenditure must personally appear and declare that he approves the advertisement, much as federal law currently requires of federal candidates.
Second, the DISCLOSE Act identifies certain types of corporations that would not be permitted to make independent expenditures.
Corporations with 20% or more foreign share ownership, or foreign control, would be prohibited from making independent expenditures.
Also barred from making expenditures would be corporations with government contracts of over $50,000 in value, or who have received and not repaid TARP funds.
The sponsors intend to strengthen existing laws banning foreign nationals from making expenditures and keep tax-funded businesses from using appropriated funds for politics.
Also, it prohibits coordination between a candidate and an outside group on ads that reference a candidate from the time period beginning 90 days before a primary and running through the general election.
Sounds like a solid Act, which would have given people a fighting chance against any Corporations trying to Buy our Election -- One-Ad-at-a-Time.
TOO BAD for us, The Disclose Act was blocked by Republicans -- from even coming to a Vote -- like over 400 other Bills that the GOP has blocked, like clockwork. (The GOP calls that 'governing'.)
The GOP does not believe in letting Votes happen. Nor apparently, in protecting the Speech of actual breathing persons, from being deluged by the "unlimited spending" of countless, Corporate Benefactors.
Disclose Act fails to advance in Senate
The proposal requiring corporations to more fully disclose political donations was drafted in response to a Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited political spending.
By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau -- Sept 24, 2010
Faced with united Republican opposition, the Senate again failed to advance a proposal Thursday that would have required corporations to more fully disclose political donations.
The vote against invoking cloture was the second failed attempt by the Senate to take up the so-called Disclose Act, written in response to the Supreme Court ruling that allowed unions and corporations to spend unlimited funds on political activities. The House passed a similar bill in June.
In the Senate, the final vote was 59 to 39, short of the 60 votes required. All Democrats voted to support the bill; two Republicans did not vote.
In a statement, Obama called the Senate outcome "a victory for special interests and U.S. corporations — including foreign-controlled ones — who are now allowed to spend unlimited money to fill our airwaves, mailboxes and phone lines right up until election day."
Well, I see President Obama is still paying attention to this issue -- even though the GOP "blocking" of the Disclose Act, got little national attention, by the Traditional Media. As.per.usual.
What is the average [non-corporate] Citizen to do?
Stay informed. Pay attention to an Ad's fine print.
Do not trust any Ad from a Front Group sponsor, that you do NOT know; that you would not send money to, or otherwise support.
Talk to your friends, family, and associates about the Corporate Interests funding so much of this season's Political Ad blitz -- thanks to the Supreme Court.
A nice sounding Name -- does NOT mean, a nice helpful Organization!
Usually just the Opposite is true ...
"Bankrupting America": The Truth behind those ‘Hole in the Ground’ Ads
By Gar Smith, berkeleydailyplanet.com -- Oct 05, 2010
How to Grab a Shovel and Fight Back
Washington has proven fertile ground for the spawning of misleadingly named lobbying groups. The roster of fake "grassroots" organizations includes
Save Our Species Alliance (opposed to the Endangered Species Act),
National Smokers Alliance (opposed to the regulation of Big Tobacco),
Americans for Job Security (opposed to the estate tax for the wealthy),
United Seniors Association [aka. USANext] (supported prescription medication legislation backed by Big Pharm),
Americans for Tax Reform (Grover Norquist’s anti-tax group),
FreedomWorks (Dick Armey and right-wing billionaires),
Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers' oil interests) and
Karl Rove’s American Crossroads (which is suspected of shifting tens of millions in secret funding from corporations to bankroll political campaigns in the November elections).
These corporate front groups masquerading as grassroots organizations have given rise to the term "Astroturf." (The disclosure that California’s Proposition 23 -- an initiative that would torpedo the state’s ambitious goal to address climate change by promoting "green jobs" in renewable energy -- is largely backed by powerful out-of-state oil and gas interests has given rise to a new term for faux activism -- the "gas-roots" organization.)
, Sen. Max Baucus, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has called on the IRS to investigate secretive political front groups that skirt the law to raise millions to support the campaigns of pro-business candidates. Baucus has specifically asked the IRS to look into the dealings of Rove’s American Crossroads.
In addition to congressional investigations, action is needed by the Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission.
Finally! Someone is digging into the Financial Windfall at Karl Rove's back.
Hopefully the specter of IRS Auditors will put a "chill in the air" -- for those other Billionaire-backers out there, who still think our Elections are "for sale" to the "highest bidder" ...
be they Foreign or Domestic backers ... The IRS wants your name and numbers ... so beware. Stay legit. Fill out the paperwork.
Investigate Rove's American Crossroads and Other Corporate Front Groups
by Kevin Zeese, truthout.org - 07 Oct 07, 2010
A big victory Wednesday, September 29, 2010, for democracy as the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, called for an investigation of corporate front groups and asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to conduct a full investigation not only of Karl Rove's American Crossroads, but all groups improperly using tax-exempt status to manipulate elections.
being misused as electoral organizations should now be forewarned -- you may not be anonymous for long.
These groups are really "political committees" and are likely to be required to disclose the names of their donors like any other political committee. The public will know who you are. So, think twice before giving your money to Rove and other political operative.
Knowledge is Power.
The more People know -- the less Power those faceless, deep-pocket Front Groups, will have over our lives --
and over our Elections!
Stay knowledgeable. Stay vigilant. Stand strong.
And VOTE! ... take some friends with you too.
Let the Front Groups know --
Our Elections are NOT For Sale!