Money and Democracy Update

kristy SRI/ESG News

An article from Public Citizen

Issue #64 • June 3, 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:

* $9.1 million: The amount that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised through his political action committee during the 2010 election cycle. He didn’t declare his candidacy for president until this week.

Not so fast … judge reconsiders ruling on corporate donations to candidates
We told you last week about a federal court decision that corporations can give money directly to candidates – despite the fact that the law is quite clear that they can’t. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed with that. Now, the judge is reconsidering. Perhaps he didn’t realize his ruling ran counter to the law?

Groups, lawmakers call for disclosure order
U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and 25 other lawmakers sent a letter this week to President Barack Obama expressing their strong support for his draft executive order requiring disclosure of campaign spending and contributions by companies that seek federal government contracts. Public Citizen and five other good government groups cheered them on and called for Obama to sign the order.

GOP contenders scramble for big-donor support
As the field of GOP presidential contenders firms up, those who plan to run are scrambling to shore up support from big-money donors. Not only could this help boost their races, but it could scare off potential opponents.

California treasurer backs corporate disclosure of political spending
Warning about the pernicious effects of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, the California state treasurer is urging the boards of two state pension funds to support shareholder initiatives that require corporations to fully disclose their political spending. The Supreme Court’s decision gave corporations the go-ahead to spend as much money as they want to influence elections.

Colbert’s pursuit of Super PAC could be damaging
Comedian Stephen Colbert may be trying to form a Super PAC to make a point about the corruption of the political system, but if he succeeds, it would set a bad precedent, some say. “We appreciate that Mr. Colbert submitted his advisory opinion request in the spirit of political comedy, but we’re not going to stand by and watch potentially damaging unintended consequences to decades of important campaign finance law,” Paul Ryan, associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said this week. Funny thing is, the head of the Campaign Legal Center is acting as Colbert’s lawyer to help him pull the stunt.

Nevada campaign finance measures go to governor
Nevada’s Legislature has approved measures that would require candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically, require them to file earlier so voters would be able to see the data sooner, and prohibit candidates from taking money from foreign sources (already against the law but apparently it wasn’t clear). The measures will become law if signed by the governor.

Tennessee gives corporations green light to contribute to candidates
Tennessee’s governor has signed a measure permitting corporations to donate money directly to candidates.

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