guardian.co.uk — "The president is wrong." So says one of the newly appointed co-chairs of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Those four words recently headlined the website of the organization Progressives United, founded by former US Senator – and now Obama campaign adviser – Russ Feingold. He is referring to Obama's recent announcement that he will accept Super Pac funds for his re-election campaign.
thenation.com — A recent report from Demos and US PIRG found that 196 people have contributed nearly 80 percent of the individual donations to Super PACs in 2010 and 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each, for a total of $79 million. That’s 43 percent of the $181 million total raised by Super PACs during this period (the rest comes from businesses, unions and other PACs). Demos and US PIRG provided me with the names of these donors and which Super PACs they gave money to. Click here to see the document (pdf). They are the .000063 percent of the electorate who will shape the 2012 campaign on both sides of the aisle. “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” Adelson told Forbes this week. “But as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it.” That’s the best argument yet for overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
inthesetimes.com — Reader: I have a confession to make. I am not a lawyer. Nor am I a constitutional law scholar, a person who has studied in great detail the differences in disclosure requirements between nonprofits and for-profit corporations, or a person who reads articles with the word “finance” in the first paragraph. My chief interest with money lies in whether I have enough of it to survive. In this, I am not unlike many Americans, all of whom are affected by the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC. All of us have good reason to be invested in the fight to overturn that decision and ensure that corporate money does not control our election system.
truthdig.com — Would the Florida Republican primary, have yielded more light and less heat if each candidate had been apportioned airtime based on an equitable formula? Might not Jon Huntsman or Tim Pawlenty have been able to stay in the race and perhaps overcome initial handicaps if they had been able to advertise for free? We are choosing our presidential candidates the way we choose our favorite television shows, by which one generates the most advertising revenue for the broadcaster. Is that really what the founding generation of Americans had in mind? The Federal Communications Commission should forbid television broadcasters from charging for campaign ads, and we, the public, should peacefully demonstrate outside the FCC offices at 445 12th Street SW, in Washington, D.C., until it does so.
robertreich.org — Have you heard of William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, Peter Thiel, or Bruce Kovner? If not, let me introduce them to you. They’re running for the Republican nomination for president. I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are – but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors. Bottom line: Whoever emerges as the GOP standard-bearer will be deeply indebted to a handful of people, each of whom will expect a good return on their investment. And this is just the beginning. We haven’t even come to the general election.
Thanks in large part to the phenomenon of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, 2008 was known as the year of the small donor. While Barack Obama can't called it's herald, his decision to accept, if not embrace, the reality of super PACs suggests that the 2012 presidential election — the first post-Citizens United presidential election — may become known as the Year of the Super PAC. (There's word that even Occupy Wall Street could get a super PAC.) Maybe. But that barely scratches the surface. So far, the 2012 race suggests that behind every successful candidate is a well-funded super PAC. And behind every power well-funded PAC is an even more powerful backer with very deep pockets. Take a closer look, and bigger story is that 2012 election may turn out to be The Year of the Billionaire.
tomdispatch.com — At a time when it’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation’s political conversation -- drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99% -- electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1%. Or, to be more precise, the .0000063%. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80% of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.
dailykos.com — When you think of Mitt Romney, you probably think of a tall, robotic fellow with no discernible strong beliefs or stances (at least, none that can survive longer than a week at a time). That's terribly unfair, and you should be ashamed for thinking it. He may have started out as an empty husk devoid of strong personal beliefs, but thanks to a crack team of industry insiders, he now is quite filled with opinions. Coincidentally, they happen to be the opinions of an army of top lobbyists in Washington, and the companies they lobby for. Funny how that works.
Financial wilding led to our economic collapse. Use of exotic “innovations” — like derivatives and credit default swaps — exploded. Regulators were paralyzed while huge bets were made in the shadows. Markets, we were assured, self-regulate. Congress blocked reform. Big money rushed in, seeking ever higher returns. Laws legitimized shadow financial activities. Speculation careened out of control.
A similar wilding now threatens our democracy as out-of-control big money floods our elections. These exotic derivatives are the super PACs and related operations, fueled by cartloads of secret money. The Federal Election Commission is toothless and paralyzed. Congress blocks new regulations. The Supreme Court opened the floodgates with Citizens United, ruling that corporations have the right to spend unlimited sums in “independent expenditure” campaigns. The marketplace of ideas, we are assured, can regulate itself.
This financial wilding is likely to escalate until it thoroughly corrupts our democracy. more »