Tag Archives | Citizens United

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. A proposed constitutional amendment has to win 67 votes to be passed by the Senate — so, assuming all Democrats were present, the amendment would still have been 12 votes short overall.

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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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US Supreme Court Opens Up Federal Elections To Richest Bidders

Make no mistake, the US Supreme Court’s decision to remove limits on monetary donations to candidates for federal political office is a game changer. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the implications:

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections. In the court’s most significant campaign-finance ruling since Citizens United in 2010, five justices voted to eliminate sensible and long-established contribution limits to federal political campaigns. Listening to their reasoning, one could almost imagine that the case was simply about the freedom of speech in the context of elections.

“There is no right more basic in our democracy,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in the opening of his opinion for the court in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

But make no mistake, like other rulings by the Roberts court that have chipped away at campaign-finance regulations in recent years, the McCutcheon decision is less about free speech than about giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

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Citizens United 2.0: Major Supreme Court Ruling Will Further Expand Reach Of Money In U.S. Elections

supreme courtThe Supreme Court’s conservative majority feels that any limit on the flow of money into political campaigns is a violation of free speech, the New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down some limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the already large role money plays in American politics.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, with the court’s more conservative justices in the majority, was a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to affect the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

Dissenting from the bench, Justice Stephen G. Breyer called the decision a blow to the First Amendment and American democracy.

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Complicit Corruption: Calling Out the Supreme Court on Citizens United

“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.” – Thomas Jefferson

This past Wednesday, Kai Newkirk – co-founder of 99Rise.orgstood up during a session of the Supreme Court and (while being secretly videotaped, presumably by another member of his organization) made the following bold announcement:

“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap in McCutcheon. The people demand democracy!”

This is the first time that video footage has ever been taken within a session of the SC (these sessions are open to the public, yet photography and recordings are banned) and Newkirk will face federal prosecution in March for having the balls to stand up in front of these crooks and say what everyone else is already thinking.… Read the rest

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‘If You Create The Democracy You Want To Have…’ – Interview With Jim Hightower

jimhightowerAaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

“Agitation is what America is all about. If it were not for agitators we’d be wearing white powdered wigs singing ‘God hail the Queen.’ Agitation built America,” said Jim Hightower to a packed hotel conference room on Sunday. The author, radio host, former elected official and “progressive populist” rabble-rouser was speaking at an event put on by a group called Common Cause, which was celebrating a recent victory in the movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. At the end of May, Illinois became the 14th state to adopt a resolution supporting the reversal of Citizens United V. FEC,, the Supreme Court decision which allowed even larger unfettered corporate spending in elections.

The push to amend the Constitution to reverse Citizens United is just one step in trying to get money out of politics, something Hightower, along with a growing number of Americans across party lines, have been fighting for.

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