Building a permanent majority for reform
Democracy - Russ Feingold
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s lawless decision in Citizens United, it’s clear that corruption is alive and well in our political system. Super PACs, 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporations, and trade associations such as the Chamber of Commerce funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into the election this past year, often using the same former staffers and ad companies that official campaigns have used.
This system is unsustainable and grossly unpopular. While I’m confident that a Supreme Court with new justices appointed by President Obama will recognize the corruption that exists—just as a different Court did when it upheld the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill—we cannot wait until then. Americans need to continue the hard work of rolling back the new era of corporate dominance that Citizens United has ushered in, and we cannot do that without building a permanent pro-reform majority…
Overturning Citizens United is only one step. In order for Democrats to prevent another era of corporate-dominated policy-making, and to regain credibility as the party that stands up to the overwhelming corporate influence in Washington, Democratic elected officials, advocacy groups, and high-dollar donors must walk away from the corrupting money and organizations spawned from the Citizens United decision. Until they do, Democrats will not be taken seriously as the party of reform. READ MORE
Advocates cheer SEC consideration of corporate disclosure rule
Los Angeles Times
A decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to consider a new rule this year requiring companies to release information about their political spending has buoyed disclosure advocates, who say such a move could be a game-changer in their quest for more transparency.
If approved by the SEC, the regulation could require all publicly traded corporations to detail how much money they give for political activities, including to tax-exempt advocacy groups and trade associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the move faces stiff opposition from many in the business community, including the Chamber.
The new rule would provide the fullest picture yet of how much corporations have become engaged in campaigns since the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling made it legal for them to spend unlimited sums on independent political activity. READ MORE
Washington's jaw drops at possibility of AIG lawsuit
Remember when AIG took a $182 billion bailout only to turn around and hand out seven-figure bonuses to the same guys who tanked their company?
Grab the pitchforks — it gets better.
Now the insurance organization might join a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the terms of the bailout — saying the deal that saved the company cheated shareholders.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — who faced calls for his firing over the AIG bailout — and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are furious, according to one Democratic lawyer. Other officials inside the agencies were angered by the news, too, sources in the department told POLITICO. READ MORE
Call time for Congress shows how fundraising dominates bleak work
Welcome to town, new members of Congress. Now hit the phones.
For an incoming member of Congress still basking in the glow of electoral victory, it's a message that hits those in both parties hard -- the most direct indication that time in the people's chamber will be a bit different from the version taught in civics classes…
The amount of time that members of Congress in both parties spend fundraising is widely known to take up an obscene portion of a typical day -- whether it's "call time" spent on the phone with potential donors, or in person at fundraisers in Washington or back home. Seeing it spelled out in black and white, however, can be a jarring experience for a new member, as related by some who attended the November orientation. READ MORE
Obama's shadow money allies file first report
Center for Responsive Politics - Open Secrets Blog
Priorities USA Action, the super PAC started by two former aides to President Barack Obama, never matched the eye-popping revenues of its conservative counterparts, Restore Our Future and American Crossroads. Those two groups raised more than $300 million combined in the 2012 election cycle.
But after Obama dropped his initial reluctance to support Priorities (or any super PAC) and gave his quiet blessing to the group, Priorities' contributions picked up. By Election Day it had raised more than $66 million from unions and wealthy liberal donors, whose names had to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.
Not so for the donors to Priorities' 501(c)(4) sister outfit, called simply Priorities USA. It and similar tax-exempt organizations are supposed to be "social welfare" groups that engage in only limited politicking and file reports just once a year, with the IRS. And though they must give the names of their top benefactors to the tax agency, they can keep them secret from the public. READ MORE
Federal contractors donate to Obama inaugural events
Two companies, AT&T and Microsoft, helping to underwrite President Obama's Jan. 21 inaugural festivities have multimillion dollar contracts with the federal government and a third stands to benefit financially from the new federal health care law being implemented during his second term.
A long-standing U.S. law bars federal contractors from spending to influence presidential and congressional elections, but few limits are imposed on post-election fundraising to pay for swearing-in festivities.
After refusing corporate money for his first inauguration, Obama reversed course last month and has taken donations from seven corporations, according to a list the inaugural committee recently posted to its website. They are a tiny fraction of the 417 inaugural "benefactors" announced to date, but include some big corporate figures. READ MORE