Tag Archives | Citizens United

Mr. President, It’s Our Moment of Truth

John Wellington Ennis

John Wellington Ennis

Dear Mr. President,

From the heartlands of America to our city centers, there are too many folks who don’t believe our system works. When citizens are under-served by their leaders, an apathy is fostered that enables corruption and prevents accountability. Despite the historic struggle to vote, the dream of democratic elections is at risk when the public does not take voting seriously. In cities, states and at the national level, campaigns have become a cynical game that shuns voters, and lets those with millions to spare dominate the debate and decide who runs. This has to change.

I have been inspired by the people I have met across the country who are working hard in their community to limit the influence of money in politics. They have told me in one way or another how they came to realize that until we reform how money is spent in elections, we can’t confront the biggest problems facing us.… Read the rest

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CU5: Nationwide Actions Mark Fifth Anniversary of Citizens United

"U.S. Chamber of Commerce building" by AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Chamber_of_Commerce_building.JPG#mediaviewer/File:U.S._Chamber_of_Commerce_building.JPG

“U.S. Chamber of Commerce building” by AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Republished with permission from Occupy.com

The corporate money machine has been snaking its way through our government for much longer than five years. However, this Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the moment when that snake went from insidious slithering to a boa constrictor-like tightening on our feeble and fragile democracy.

Five years ago, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission allowed corporations and unions the right to spend as much money as they want to influence elections. It gave rise to dark money spending and Super PACs where donors remain hidden from public view while funneling millions of dollars into state and federal elections.

In 2012, non-party outside spending passed the $1 billion mark for the first time in our history – three times the amount spent in the 2008 presidential elections.… Read the rest

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The Supreme Court’s Billion-Dollar Mistake

Anyone who’s been a regular visitor to this page knows that we deplore the Pay 2 Play political system in place in the United States. Much of the blame for this must be laid at the steps of the US Supreme Court, as described in the New York Review of Books:

Five years ago this week, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court decided to allow unlimited amounts of corporate spending in political campaigns. How important was that decision? At the time, some said criticism of the decision was overblown, and that fears that it would give outsize influence to powerful interests were unfounded. Now, the evidence is in, and the results are devastating.

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US SupremeCourt West Facade by UpstateNYer (CC)

To coincide with the decision’s fifth anniversary, eight public interest organizations—the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Demos, U.S. PIRG, Public Campaign, Justice at Stake, and the Center for Media and Democracy—have simultaneously issued reports that demonstrate the steadily growing influence of money on elections since the Court’s decision.

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Four marches, two weeks, one goal: The NH Rebellion to #GetMoneyOut


Republished with permission from Occupy.com.

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

King was well aware of the power of a march. The New Hampshire Rebellion is too.

What began last January as a walk by a handful of people turned into a statewide march involving over 200 – and included an international media campaign that reached over 3 million people, raising awareness about the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Then, taking that initial New Hampshire Rebellion momentum into a July 4th weekend march along the state’s coast, more than 500 people showed up. In the year since its founding, organizers of the New Hampshire Rebellion have proved not only that they don’t walk alone, but that they have no intention of turning back.… Read the rest

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Activist Comics: Disclosure

If someone was talking shit about you, wouldn’t you want to know who it was? And if it was $145 million worth of shit you were buried under, wouldn’t you be outraged and demand to know who was dumping all this excrement on top of you, and why?

Well, here we are: After $145 million of anonymous spending in the midterm elections, the American public remains none the wiser as to who not only wanted to spend fortunes influencing politics, but needed to do it without exposing their identities and their motives. Insomuch as political spending is largely an investment made by eager pay-to-players looking to get a massive return in the form of tax breaks, contracts, or legislative deference, how much worse must these interests be if they need to keep their motives secret?

There are some — such as Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas, and fulminating lawyer James Bopp — who believe there should no disclosure on spending in elections at all, because that might expose a particular donor to criticism from others, which then would make them hesitant to give large sums to unpopular causes, and that is JUST LIKE restricting their First Amendment right to free speech.… Read the rest

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The Wool Over Our Eyes

P2PStills51

No one likes having the wool pulled over their eyes. Now imagine wealthy CEOs hiring millions of knitters to blanket your entire city with a massive wool sweater, soaked in gasoline. That’s what dark money is. It’s rich interests that already have millions to burn, but would rather spend that money on polluting our election process and muffling the public’s voice. And they are going through ever-greater hoops to hide the source of the money in this election cycle, precisely because people seeing the truth is bad for their cause.

What our founding fathers and mothers set forth in America was an experiment in democracy, one that seemed daring at first independent of a monarch, but soon needed to enfranchise the rest of its citizens. To those that came before us, who sought to build a better life for their children, the right to participate in our democratic process was paramount to what it meant to be free.… Read the rest

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Citizens United, Explained With Dogs

It is an antiquated rule banning cameras from the Supreme Court, when they are public proceedings affecting all Americans. John Oliver was right to challenge this seclusion from the public eye on his recent episode of Last Week Tonight when he had no choice but to dramatize courtroom proceedings with a bench of jurist dogs. Clearly a better means of public information is necessary for the highest court in the land.

Until then, here is a case that is often mentioned, though is still not clear to all: Citizens United vs. FEC, which said that corporations have the right to spend unlimited outside money in elections. Working with interviews compiled for my documentary exploring the Citizens United decision, PAY 2 PLAY, I have re-mixed the footage to include the Supreme Court of Canines.

This election cycle shows that the impacts of Citizens United are no laughing matter, with more anonymous money flowing through our elections than ever.

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How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

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Justice Kennedy, the author of the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’ opinion.

Pay 2 Play politics has been the name of the electoral game in America since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Jim Rutenberg has a great essay in the New York Times Magazine showing just how bad things have become:

…Before 2002, parties could accept unlimited donations from individuals or groups (corporations, labor unions, etc.) so long as they devoted the funds — so-called “soft money” — to the amorphous act of “party building.” The McCain-Feingold law, as it came to be known, banned soft-money contributions, and it also prohibited political groups that operate outside the regulated system and its donation limits — like the Wylys and their Republicans for Clean Air — from running “issue ads” that appear to help or hurt a candidate close to an election. It implemented tough fines and even prison terms for those who illegally coordinated with the official campaigns.

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The Senate just rejected a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United

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ABC-Washington Post poll results: Public views of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Remember the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC? You know, the one allowing corporations to spend whatever it takes to have their candidate win elections for public office. Well many, many people thought that was bad law and Congress should act to override it, but the Senate just rejected the opportunity to adopt a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, reports Vox:

On Thursday afternoon, a proposal to amend the US Constitution to allow tougher campaign finance and election spending restrictions was blocked in the Senate, in a party-line vote. 54 Democrats voted to advance the measure — another, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would have done so but wasn’t present. However, every single Republican voted against it, and it fell to a filibuster.

Unlike with other bills that have majority support, a filibuster wasn’t the primary obstacle here. 

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Scientific Study Says the US is an Oligarchy (In Other Breaking News: Water is Wet!)

Pic: PD

Pic: PD

The Daily Kos has reported on a new study (courtesy of researchers from Princeton and Northwestern) which claims to demonstrate, via science, that the US is an oligarchy:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

This news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention, though it is encouraging to see that more people are beginning to wake up and acknowledge these facts.

Another disturbing aspect which the author points out:  “the data used for this study was drawn from study of public policy 1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002.… Read the rest

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