motherjones.com — Since the mid-2000s, a small cadre of lawyers and activists has reshaped the role of money in American politics. Led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), attorney James Bopp, Jr., and law professor and activist Brad Smith, this group has won a string of victories that have imploded campaign finance laws. But it's been rough going for the deregulators as of late. They've lost a slew of cases intended to gut existing political disclosure laws. They've failed to knock down bans on contribution limits. And despite their objections, the Internal Revenue Service has said it might revisit how it regulates dark-money nonprofit groups, which outspent super-PACs 3-to-2 in the 2010 elections and unloaded at least $172 million through June of this election cycle.
huffingtonpost.com — Half a billion dollars and all we got is this lousy election? That's about how much has been spent in the presidential race so far, and by the time it's all said and done, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates the price tag will reach about $2.5 billion. That's a lot of money -- and much of it will have been spent on what is sometimes called "messaging." With a $2.5 billion bankroll, you'd think pretty much every important issue would get its place in the sun. Well, as it turns out, you don't always get what you pay for. Let's take a quick refresher tour of some of this campaign's more pointless diversions.
motherjones.com — Foreign money and American elections are like fire and water, orange juice and toothpaste, Yankees fans and Red Sox fans: The two don't mix. At least they haven't for nearly 50 years, when the federal government banned foreigners from giving or spending any money on local, state, and federal elections. But for the secretive nonprofit groups pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2012 elections, the rules are different. These outfits, organized under the 501(c) section of the US tax code, can take money from foreign citizens, foreign labor unions, and foreign corporations, and they don't have to tell voters about it because they don't publicly disclose their donors. What's more, with a savvy attorney and a clean paper trail, a foreign donor could pump millions into a nonprofit without even the nonprofit knowing the money's true origin.
tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com — A battle between leaders of the two parties over campaign finance rules intensified this week as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Republicans of flat-out threatening the Internal Revenue Service after they warned the agency not to tighten oversight of anonymous money groups misusing the tax code. The squabble is about how forcefully to crack down on groups approved under special 501(c)(4) tax status by claiming to primarily engage in “social welfare,” but which pour significant resources into political activities. Democrats want a strict cap on how much money they may spend for politics; Republicans prefer the ambiguity of the status quo. Beneath the issue is a sea of anonymous spending in which pro-GOP groups are drowning Democrats.
Mitt Romney has either stumbled into or gotten himself into a bit of a "sticky wicket," during his visit to Great Britain. Not only has he managed to offend his hosts, but that Daily Telegraph article. The article, which appeared in one of the U.K.'s leading conservative papers, quoted an unnamed Romney adviser suggesting President Romney would restore the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K., based on a shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage."
In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.
The Romney campaign has thus far limited its response to distancing itself from the quote and denying its veracity. Though it seems that such an offensive remark would require a much stronger response, the truth is Mitt Romney can't afford too much distance between himself and the ideas behind that quote.
Ask any magician and they’ll tell you that the secret to a successful magic trick is misdirection — distracting the crowd so they don’t realize how they’re being fooled. Get them watching your left hand while your right hand palms the silver dollar: “Now you see it, now you don’t.” The purloined coin now belongs to the magician.
Just like democracy. Once upon a time conservatives supported the full disclosure of campaign contributors. Now they oppose it with their might — and magic, especially when it comes to unlimited cash from corporations. My goodness, they say, with a semantic wave of the wand, what’s the big deal?: nary a single Fortune 500 company had given a dime to the super PACs. (Even that’s not entirely true, by the way.)
Meanwhile the other hand is poking around for loopholes, stuffing millions of secret corporate dollars into non-profit, tax-exempt organizations called 501(c)s that funnel the money into advertising on behalf of candidates or causes. Legally, in part because the Federal Election Commission does not consider them political committees, they can keep it all nice and anonymous, never revealing who’s really behind the donations or the political ads they buy. This is especially handy for corporations — why risk offending customers by revealing your politics or letting them know how much you’re willing to shell out for a permanent piece of an obliging politician?
thehill.com — One hundred years ago, the people of Montana raised their voices and voted to close the door on corporate money in politics. On Monday, without even hearing arguments, the Supreme Court kicked the door open, allowing corporate dollars to flood the Treasure State's elections. Lost between the rulings on Arizona’s immigration law and the Affordable Care Act is the most dangerous threat to our democratic process since the Citizens United v. FEC case of 2010 – and few people seem to have noticed. In throwing out Montana’s hundred-year-old state law forbidding corporate political contributions, the Court ignored the will of 75 percent of the American people and overturned an effective state precedent that protected Montana elections from the corruption of corporate money. This ruling compounds the damage to our democracy already done by the Citizens United decision, which has allowed millions of untraceable dollars to overwhelm our federal, state, and local elections.
On June 20, 2012, Nick Nyhart, CEO and President of Public Campaign, Joan Mandle, Executive Director of Democracy Matters, Tracy Leatherberry of Common Cause and others delivered a people's indictment for crimes against our democracy to Karl Rove, American Crossroads, and Crossroads GPS.
Detailing an attempt to subvert and sell our democracy, the indictment was also mic check'd from the street by hundreds of protesters in 100 degree DC heat. The protest was organized by the Campaign for America's Future, OurDC and others who took to the street.
creators.com — Leave it to Bill Moyers, one of America's most useful citizens, to sum up our country's present political plight in a succinct metaphor: "Our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. These kings are multimillionaire corporate moguls who by divine right — not of God, but (of the Supreme Court's) Citizens United decision — are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh." Pricey, indeed. In its disgraceful, democracy-crushing judicial edict of January 2010, the Court took the big advantage that America's corporate elite already had in politics — and super-sized it. This is the first presidential election to be run under the rigged rules invented by the Court's five-man corporatist majority, and we can see the effects of this ruling.