Money and Democracy Update

Issue #78 • September 16, 2011

“Money and Democracy Update” is Public Citizen’s weekly e-newsletter about the intersection of money and politics. It is part of our ongoing campaign to track the results of — and ultimately overturn — the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows for-profit corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or attack political candidates. We’ll update you regularly with select news stories and blog posts, legislative developments and ways to get involved.

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $2.5 billion – $3.3 billion: The amount that local TV stations are expecting to receive in political ads in the 2012 election cycle

Good government groups to supercommittee: Show us your meetings
More than a dozen good government groups, including Public Citizen, are calling on the supercommittee to disclose committee-related contacts with lobbyists and report any campaign donations within 48 hours. The supercommittee is charged with slicing more than a trillion dollars from the budget.

Meanwhile, in supercommittee news … second supercommittee member stops raising money, sort of
Dave Camp (R-Mich.), said he won’t schedule any more fundraising events while he is serving on the supercommittee. However, he will attend fundraisers that are already scheduled. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) also has announced that he will stop raising money while on the committee.

Blogger takes readers inside Koch brothers summit
Brad Friedman, who runs the Brad Blog, has been working feverishly for weeks to find out more about what went on when the wealthy, conservatve Koch brothers held a recent summer seminar. He has audio. He has names. He is spilling it all in a multi-part series.

A harbinger of 2012? Outside groups pour money into special elections in N.Y., Nev.
Outside groups poured $1.65 million into the special elections held this week in New York and Nevada. Half of that money came during the final week, according to iWatch News.

Following in the Kochs’ footsteps
Looks as though the whole post-Citizens-United-form-a-Super-PAC-to-influence-elections concept is trickling down to the local level. A Rhode Island man is using a corporation to form a political action committee to elect the next mayor of Las Cruces, N.M. The PAC man, Bobby Oliveira, said he doesn’t plan to disclose funding sources and fully expects legal battles because of it. But “if the Koch brothers can do it, so can we,” he said.

Haley Barbour on board at Rove’s Crossroads groups 
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is joining American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the fundraising machines launched by Republican strategist Karl Rove that were the source of so much of the 2010 midterm elections money. The groups have a goal of raising $240 million during the 2012 election cycle.

Revolving door spinning faster than ever, new study shows
Exploiting connections can help boost one’s paycheck, but it might not be good for democracy. Still, it is happening with greater frequency; over the past 10 years, nearly 5,400 former congressional staffers have gone on to lobby, while nearly 400 former members of Congress have become lobbyists, according to new information released by LegiStorm and reported by The Washington Post.

Speaking of the revolving door … 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s former spokesperson is becoming a lobbyist at the high-powered Quinn Gillespie & Associates. Jim Manley worked for Reid for six years; he also has been press secretary to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and was press aide to former Senate Majoriy Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine).

Ethics rules may be tightened for federal employees
In a move that is drawing praise from good government groups including Public Citizen, the Office of Government Ethics – an executive branch agency – is proposing to prohibit all federal employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists. Currently in the executive branch, only political appointees are prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists.

Colorado town condemns corporate personhood
The board of trustees in Jamestown, Colo., has formally condemned corporate personhood. In a resolution passed this week, the board called for an amendment to the Constitution to establishing that only human beings, not corporations, may have constitutional rights, and that the First Amendment doesn’t protect unlimited political spending.

Conservatives in Montana take third run at state campaign finance laws
Conservative groups in Montana have filed a third lawsuit challenging Montana’s elections laws – this time going after the state’s ban on corporate donations to candidates, its campaign donation limits for party committees and political action committees, and its requirements that candidates and committees must disclose who paid for political ads. This suit comes as Montana’s Supreme Court gets set to hear an appeal next week on the first lawsuit.

Complaint filed against Issa
American Family Voices has filed a complaint with the House Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) bought a large stake in a Goldman Sachs mutual fund, he pressured the government to stop investigating the company. Issa disputes the allegations.

Visit DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more!