salon.com — In one of the biggest salvos of the post-Citizens United campaign finance wars, President Obama’s campaign is taking direct aim at one of the top conservative dark money outfits, filing a complaint with the FEC against Crossroads GPS. The group is the 501(c)4 arm of the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads empire, a status that means it doesn’t have to disclose its donors or much else to the public, unlike standard super PACs, like its twin, American Crossroads. But the Obama campaign is arguing that the group is essentially violating the tax laws governing its nonprofit status and therefore must reveal its funders. Regardless of the complainant’s legal merits, it represents a major escalation in Democrats’ war on conservative secret money groups, as the Obama campaign has mostly stuck to rhetorical, and not legal, attacks against these groups so far.
otherwords.org — "Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin," screamed headlines across the country after the labor-bashing incumbent governor hung onto his job in the June 5 recall election. Well, yes...but no. Walker will get to stay in office for the rest of his term, but he didn't win the election — money did. This was a victory for the Citizens United edict issued two years ago by the Supreme Court's five-man corporatist majority. This anti-democratic ruling opened the door for unlimited sums of corporate cash to barge into our national, state, and local elections and take charge. Walker is the first ugly sprouting of that alien seed.
motherjones.com — Justice John Paul Stevens had seen a lot of precedent overturned by the time the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in January 2010. Appointed to the court by Gerald Ford after a career as a distinguished Republican jurist, he'd been there for contentious cases on abortion, the death penalty, Gitmo, you name it. But none had prepared him for the way the court's new conservative majority, led by John Roberts, seized on an obscure campaign finance case expected to produce a narrow ruling and used it to shred nearly four decades of federal law. Stevens penned an impassioned 90-page dissent lambasting the "glittering generality" of this construction. Stevens wasn't the only one appalled. Citizens United set off a torrent of outrage. So how to put elections back in the hands of voters? Here are the four options.
washingtonpost.com — For those who believe money already has too much power in U.S. politics, 2012 will be a miserable year. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, lassitude at the Federal Election Commission and the growing audacity of very rich conservatives have created a new political system that will make the politics of the Gilded Age look like a clean government paradise. Americans won’t even fully know what’s happening to them because so much can be donated in secrecy to opaque organizations. It’s always helpful for voters to know who is trying to buy an election, and for whom. This time, much of the auction will be held in private. You can be sure that the candidates will find out who helped elect them, but the voters will remain in the dark.
propublica.org — This morning, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, faced a Senate hearing over more than $2 billion in bank losses caused by risky hedges that blew up. Dimon said that the hedges—investments meant to protect the bank—had grown into “complex and hard-to manage risks.” The losses “let a lot of people down, and we are sorry for it.” Many lawmakers are holding up the losses as evidence of the need for stronger financial regulation. The chairman of the Senate banking committee, Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in his opening remarks, asked for “a full accounting” of JP Morgan’s losses. But through campaign contributions and well-connected staff, JP Morgan appears to have already taken its own accounting of the Banking committee. Here’s a picture of connections between the company and the committee.
salon.com — Few people have been more vilified by the right than George Soros, the billionaire financier who spent millions trying to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. He’s been the subject of a borderline anti-Semitic expose by Glenn Beck, been called “evil” by conservative blogs, and seen his name become an epithet to attack people who may or may not be tied to the secretive mega-donor. All this thanks to his deep-pocketed crusade against Bush and other conservatives. But George Soros is about to get completely blown out of the water by Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul and conservative mega-donor. In 2004, Soros gave $23.7 million to a handful of outside political groups called 527 organizations, which were the state-of-the-art in campaign finance at the time, making him the largest donor to the outside groups that year.
Last Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker kept his job, but with a high price tag. In a state of only six million people, $60 million was poured into the race, $50 million of which went to Governor Walker. And almost half of that was spent by outside groups -- most of them not based in the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin was not an isolated event. Since 2010, Super PACs and corporations have spent record amounts of money in elections nationwide. Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to over $290 million, four times more than the previous mid-term elections in 2006.
colorlines.com — It may not feel like there’s anything positive to make out of the unsuccessful bid to recall Gov. Scott Walker in yesterday’s Wisconsin elections, but there were hints of optimism. Young voters and African-American voters did more than their part to show up, according to exit polls and early reports, despite significant efforts to confuse and challenge them from groups that profess to be fighting voter fraud.
guardian.co.uk — The failed effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is widely seen as a crisis for the labor movement, and a pivotal moment in the 2012 US presidential election season. Walker launched a controversial effort to roll back the power of Wisconsin's public employee unions, and the unions pushed back, aided by strong, grassroots solidarity from many sectors. This week, the unions lost. Central to Walker's win was a massive infusion of campaign cash, saturating the Badger State with months of political advertising. His win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.
Scott Walker survived his recall. In case you were wondering whether our democracy is totally fucked, read this about the last minute ads that poured into Wisconsin. That's very inspiring. I feel all patrioticlike just thinking about it. Scott Walker will be the new GOP prototype. Their worst impulses have been validated.