Money and Democracy Update

kristy SRI/ESG News

an e-newsletter about the movement to curb corporate influence in politics and restore our democracy

Issue #70 • July 15, 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:

$86 million: The amount raised by both President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee in the second quarter of the year – a record
$35 million: The amount raised in the same period of time by all but one of the Republican presidential candidates combined
Shareholder Protection Act could mitigate Citizens United damage
At a press conference this week, Public Citizen joined four lawmakers who introduced the Shareholder Protection Act in both chambers of Congress as a way to mitigate the damage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that case, the court said corporations could spend as much as they want to influence elections. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Reps. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced a measure that would require shareholder signoff before corporations spend money on politics.

Dems challenge Romney’s PAC structure
Democrats in New Hampshire and Alabama have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission saying that presidential candidate Mitt Romney improperly used political action committees to help fund his presidential campaign before he declared his candidacy.

Minnesota disclosure law to be reviewed by appellate court
In September, the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a challenge to a Minnesota requiring corporations to disclose to the public their political donations. A three-judge panel of the court previously upheld the law.

Speaking of Minnesota …
The Minnesota Supreme Court in September will consider the legality of the state’s ban on corporate political spending.

You have heard of the Super PAC … next up: the Super-Duper PAC
The campaign dollars are coming in fast and the campaign finance landscape is changing rapidly. So the terminology must keep up. Citizens United prompted the emergence of the “Super PAC” – an entity that raises unlimited amounts of money to spending influencing elections. Now some are talking about creating “Super-Duper PACs,” a combination of a Super PAC and a traditional political action committee. Such a creature would be able both to donate to candidates and to raise unlimited funds for independent expenditures – fliers, brochures, ads and so forth – just by using separate bank accounts for the two purposes.

U.S. House member from Oregon proposes constitutional amendment
“Special interests should not have the ability to use millions to influence our elections. It’s a matter of fairness. They don’t want a level playing field and they will spend millions to keep it that way.” So says U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who this week proposed a constitutional amendment to give Congress and states the “power to prohibit, limit, and otherwise regulate the contribution of funds or donation of in-kind equivalents to candidates.”

Voldemort outspends Harry Potter
Campaign finance stories have no limits. In the lead-up to this week’s premiere of the last Harry Potter movie, the folks over at the Center for Responsive Politics decided to have some fun. They compared the campaign donations coming from people named “Harry Potter” with those from “Tom Riddle,” who may be better known as his pseudonym, Voldemort. Sorry, Potter fans, when money speaks, Voldemort narrowly wins this time.

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