Money and Democracy Update

Issue #97 ? February 17, 2012

?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:

$5.2 million: Amount President Barack Obama?s campaign spent last year for Internet advertising
$9.5 million: Amount Obama?s campaign spent on telemarketing
$2.6 million: Amount GOP contender Newt Gingrich spent on telemarketing
$1.3 million: Amount Obama?s campaign spent on credit card fees for donations
$143,862: Amount Obama?s campaign spent last year on text messages

New Mexico Legislature approved amendment resolution
New Mexico?s Legislature has passed a resolution calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. New Mexico is now the second state to pass such a resolution (Hawaii was the first).

Supreme Court Showdown
Corporations challenging the Montana Supreme Court?s decision upholding the state?s restrictions on corporate political expenditures have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put the law on hold pending a decision on whether the Supremes will hear the case. Montana?s Attorney General has responded that the challengers are asking the court ?to invalidate Montana?s Corrupt Practices Act ? an Act that has safeguarded the republican form of government in Montana for a century from the scourge of political corruption.? The challengers? request will be considered by Justice Anthony Kennedy and may be referred to the full court for decision.

Californians deliver 10,000 signatures for constitutional amendment
California residents want a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court?s Citizens United decision, as evidenced by a Public Citizen, CALPIRG and Common Cause letter signed by more than 10,000 people. The letter, supporting a pending resolution in the California Assembly calling for a constitutional amendment, was delivered this week to a California Assembly chairperson.

Fifty groups call for amendment hearings in Congress
Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees received letters this week signed by 50 organizations calling for hearings on the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Public Citizen was one of them.

New ?hybrid PACs? are catching on
Can?t keep all these kinds of PACs straight? We admit, it?s not easy. Now, we see the emergence of ?hybrid PACs.? These political action committees are like Super PACs in that they can raise unlimited amounts of money to independently support candidates via such things as TV and radio ads. But they also can raise limited amounts of money and donate that right to political candidates, providing they use separate accounts. Critics contend that these entities further illustrate the fiction of campaign finance limits.

Medical device industry launches lobbying push for weaker oversight
The $350 billion medical device industry is launching a major lobbying push to make it even easier and faster to get devices approved, a new Public Citizen report finds. The trouble is, recalls of dangerously defective devices are increasing. Defibrillators that provide painful shocks, artificial hips that shed metal fragments and destroy tissue ? these show that the approval process is already too fast and loose. Instead of caving to the industry, Congress should be strengthening the device approval process.

Eric Cantor?s Wall Street insider trading loophole
Sometimes, public outrage bubbles up and forces Congress to take action to advance the public interest. The Big Business interests, who normally count on the legislative process operating according to plan, lose control. And that’s when they really set to work. Case in point: the STOCK Act.

Dollars and Cents (even more news bites):

… Seven U.S. senators have asked the IRS to investigate social welfare nonprofits that spend a lot on direct political ads. Potential targets: The Karl Rove-funded Crossroads groups and the pro-Obama Priorities USA …

… Six lobbyists are suing the Obama administration, claiming that its prohibition on lobbyists serving on federal advisory committees (part of the administration?s attempt to be more ethical than past administrations) is unconstitutional …

… A new group, New York Leadership for Accountable Government has formed to push for reforms to the state?s campaign finance system …

… Citing Citizens United, Personal PAC, a group that helped elect Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, is suing to block a new Illinois law that limits donations to political action committees …

… A measure supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United is pending in the Alaska Legislature …

… A move is afoot in Salt Lake City to persuade voters there to approve a resolution favoring a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United …

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