The Day Money In Politics Took Our Republic Away
On January 21, 2010 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) said that section 203 of H.R. 2356 (107th) the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was “Unconstitutional.” Section 203 imposed limits on what corporations, unions, and organizations, could contribute to political campaigns to elect or defeat candidates running for public office. This ruling came in a decision on Citizens United v FEC (Federal Election Commission.) At least 3 things happened that day:
1) States lost their ability to control their own elections
Take a look at what happened in WI where Governor Scott Walker was “Recalled” by the people of Wisconsin after he took away the right of Public Employees to negotiate through “Collective Bargaining”. Outside money, $63 million dollars of it, was spent to help Walker win the recall election, the previous record for outside money was $37M. That $67M flooded into the state, from people who don’t live there, it came from people like Charles and David Koch, better known as the Koch Brothers, (who are also better known for paying fines for illegally funneling “Dark Money” but that’s a whole other story,) and SuperPACS (who desperately wanted to keep Scott Walker in place,) to support Walker for the recall election after citizens in Wisconsin were so angry that they actually gathered 1,000,000 signatures to force the recall election.Read more about Scott Walkers Recall election here: “Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin Recall Election” by CBS News.
The egregious levels of outside spending on the federal level are well documented. In the 2010 Congressional elections, spending by corporations and wealthy individuals totaled almost $300M.(i) In the 2012 election, the largest SuperPAC spent an astounding $142M. (ii) Altogether SuperPACS spent $609M in the 2012 election cycle. Overall outside spending topped $1.29 Billion. (iii) In comparison to these mammoth sums of money, it only takes a modest amount of money to have a transformative impact on a local election. If multi-million dollar SuperPACS can buy the victory of even Presidential candidates, then what’s stopping them from influencing local political elections? This paragraph and some other information is from Democracy is For People , we thank them for the material and their efforts in trying to get the U.S. Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.
2) Limits on campaign contributions from corporations, unions, and organizations (SuperPACS) were lifted, allowing widespread corruption of our politicians and allowing elections to be bought.
There is actually a Trans-Partisan opposition to Citizens United. This is NOT a partisan issue. Money in politics is hurting this country in many different ways, and EVERYONE is noticing. Campaign finance reform – including efforts to limit political spending by corporations, unions, and the super-wealthy, has been part of the conservative legacy. The court’s decision rolled back nearly a century of laws passed by both sides of the aisle who, agreed that reasonable restrictions can and should be placed on campaign spending by powerful special interest in order to preserve our democracy.
Stalwart conservative statesmen have fought for campaign finance reform. No less a conservative movement icon than Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona uttered these words in support of bipartisan campaign finance reform in 1983: “Our nation is facing a crisis of liberty if we do not control campaign expenditures. We must prove that elective office is not for sale. We must convince the people that elected officials are what James Madison intended us to be, agents of the sovereign people, not the hired hands of the rich givers, or what James Madison called factions,”
Arizona Senator John McCain, Goldwater’s successor and the 2008 Republican Presidential nominee, called the Supreme Court’s ruling “a combination of arrogance, naivete and stupidity, the likes of which I have never seen.”
Most Republicans, including Tea Party supporters, think steps should be taken to curb this corrosive campaign spending. A March 2012 poll conducted by ABCNews/Washington Post, showed that over two-thirds of Americans (69%) felt SuperPACS should be illegal. Among Tea Party supporters, the numbers were the same: 69% of Tea Party supporters felt that SuperPACS should be outlawed.(iv)
Most Republicans think big campaign spenders, including corporations, can influence how a member of Congress votes. More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) to an April 2012 Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) including 71% of Republicans — also agreed that, “if a company spent $100,000 to help elect a member of Congress, it could successfully pressure him or her to change a vote on proposed legislation.” Only one in five disagreed. (v)
3) Americans Were Outraged By the Court’s Decision
Nearly nine in ten Americans (88%) say that big companies have too much power in Washington D.C. (vi).
Eight in ten respondents oppose the court’s decision in Citizens United. (vii)
Republicans, Democrats , and Independents who have heard about Citizens United believe by an almost 4-to-1 margin that the ruling is having a negative effect. (viii)
83% of Americans (85% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 78% of Independents) think there should be limits on how much money corporations can give in elections. And 90% of those with incomes over $100,000 support such limits. (ix)
By a 5-to-1 margin, Americans agree that “there would be less corruption if there were limits on how much could be given to SuperPACS.” Only 14% disagree with this proposition. 75% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats agree. (x)
What is it Going to Take Take To Change The Way Things Are Going?
In short, it’s going to take people like YOU to get involved. Above you will notice I have a “Page” button entitled “Find/Track Politicians, Bills, Voting Records,” Click on that page button and it will explain the links that are on the page and how to use them to find, track and contact YOUR Representatives. Using, for example, GovTrack to find who your U.S. Senators (2) are, and who your U.S.. Congressman or woman is, if you don’t already know, is very easy to do. Click on GovTrack and register at the site. Once registered it will be easy to search for a specific legislative bill, Track your politicians votes, and contact your Congressmen/women and U.S. Senators. If you would also like to contact YOUR State Representatives you can click on the “Vote Smart” link to help you locate your State Senators, Assemblymen/women, and other local politicians that are supposed to be representing you. Look, right now only the Super-rich and corporations have any real influence over our elections and politicians. The only time regular people gain influence on politicians that spend more than half their time raising money to keep their job in the next election, is when we show up in numbers. When enough people flood the offices of the U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen/women, State Senators, Assemblymen/women, and right on down the line with enough phone calls and e-mails, they don’t have a choice but to listen. The sites that I’ve provided links for on my “Find/Track Politicians, Bills, voting Records” page will walk you through the process of calling or e-mailing YOUR Representatives, and will send you an e-mail whenever they take action like sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or voting on a bill. In short, please Get Involved For A Better America. Follow my Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/StoptheObstructionistTeaParty, Subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address on the home page, or on Twitter @Medic3569, for up to date news on legislative action and information on upcoming issues that may effect you. McCutcheon v FEC is due to be announced by the SCOTUS and could very likely be decided by the same “Conservative-5” Justices the way that Citizens United was, in favor of the ultra-rich and corporations. Look at the meme above, do we really want to see those top donors from the fossil fuel industry contributing over $300M when we know that they can change how a congressman/woman will vote on proposed legislation? Join the “Rapid Response” team that will take action the day the SCOTUS decision is announced at “Money Out – Voters In” to check out and join the Rapid Response to McCutcheon v FEC the day it is announced.
Other interesting reading:
McCutcheon v FEC and “Money out – Voters In” explained by the The Amendment Gazette,
Victor Tiffany is a Senior Columnist at The Amendment Gazette and the Acting State-Wide Coordinator for Move to Amend one of the organizations working hard to get congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United
(i) Public Citizen’s analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data. See Congress Watch (January 2011). “12 Months After: The Effects of Citizens United on Elections and the Integrity of the Legislative Process.”Retrieved 15 Sept. 2011, from http://www.citizen.org/documents/Citizens-United–20110113.pdf
(ii) Center for Responsive Politics, “Restore Our Future” Retrieved 22 April 2013 from: http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte#C00490045&cycle#2012
(iii) Center for Responsive Politics, “Outside Spending.” Retrieved 22 April 2013 from: http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/index.php.
(iv) Eggen, D (17 Feb. 2010, 15 Sept. 2011). “Poll: Large majority opposes Supreme Court’s decision on campaign financing.” Washington Post. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2011, from http://washingtonpost.com/wp:dyn/content/article/2010/02/17/AR2010021701151.html
(v) Brennen Center lbid.
(vi) New York City Public Advocate Bill De Blasio “New Report: Election Spending by Out-Of-State Non-Profits Surges 1500% in New York;
(vii) U.S. PIRG education Fund and People For the American Way Foundation. “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence: Big and Secret Money in New York In the 2012 Elections.” Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://www.pfaw.org/sites/default/files/outsize_spending_NY.pdf
(viii) Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (March, 2013). “From Social Welfare to Political Welfare: The Evolving Role of Nonprofits in Our Elections and Urgent Need for State Regulatory Action.” Retrieved July 8, 2013, fromhttp://politicalspending.org/501c4-Report.pdf
[ix] Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (March, 2013). “From Social Welfare to Political Welfare: The Evolving Role of Nonprofits in Our Elections and Urgent Need for State Regulatory Action.” Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://politicalspending.org/501c4 -Report.pdf
[x] Resolutions Week, “Resolutions Passed and Current Efforts” “http://www.resolutionsweek.org/?page_id=86
Note: Information provided here with footnotes was compiled by www.democracyisforpeople.org , please visit their site to view their material and to Get Involved For A Better America. We thank them for the resources, material, and for their efforts in trying to overturn Citizens United. Also involved, along with over 120 organizations working on this task is www.united4thepeople.org which is a great site to see where the effort is, and how you can become involved in your area. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have, I’ll be glad to assist you.