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 #81 • October 7, 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:

150: Number of Super PACs on file with the Federal Election Commission
About three dozen: Number of Super PACs that have formed since July

Occupy Wall Street: Protesters have a right to be angry
Overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is just one of the demands being made by protesters turning out all over the country. Those involved as part of Occupy Wall Street have a right to be angry. What’s more, some are saying it could turn into another tea party-like movement.

Links between Clinton and Keystone lobbyists are many and deep
The ties between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and lobbyists for the controversial TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project are many and deep. A former staffer on Clinton’s presidential campaign is TransCanada’s in-house lobbyist. Another Keystone lobbyist works for a firm whose employees and PACs made it the largest single source of funds for her presidential campaign. And a variety of other lobbyists active on pipeline-related matters have ties to the Clintons or Obama. The State Department is one of several agencies that must approve the pipeline if it is to be built.

One man has outsized sway over results of North Carolina races
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which said corporations could spend as much as they want to sway elections, and other campaign finance developments have allowed a multimillionaire owner of discount stores, Art Pope, to have a huge influence over conservative politics in North Carolina.

Trade deals were a boon for lobbyists
The three countries with trade deals pending with the U.S. (Colombia, Panama and South Korea) spent $15 million on lobbying, legal and public relations work since 2006, according to The Hill. Of that, $2.3 million was spent this year. More than 30 firms got a piece of the business. The controversial deals are up for a vote before Congress next week.

FEC relaxes donation rules for hybrid PACs
To be consistent with a recent court ruling, the Federal Election Commission has relaxed donation rules for PACs that are hybrids of Super PACs and traditional PACs. Now, these hybrid entities can accept unlimited sums for campaign ads while still raising money for candidates, as long as there is no mixing of money.

Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United reintroduced
U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) this week reintroduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

California business groups fight political expenditure disclosure, while others push for it
Business groups are pushing back against efforts in California to require companies to disclose their political spending. A coalition of business groups, led by the California Chamber of Commerce, is asking the California Public Employee’s Retirement System not to press corporate boards to reveal information about political donations. But not everyone thinks hiding donations is a good idea. NorthStar Asset Management Pension Plan of Boston is asking shareholders to vote on political spending by Proctor & Gamble. Pension plan representatives say they are concerned about risks to P&G’s brand, reputation and value.

Already hit the contribution limit? Turn to a Super PAC
Already maxed out on your contributions to your favorite presidential hopeful? No problem! You can give to their Super PAC instead! That’s what a dozens of Mitt Romney supporters have done. A new analysis finds that dozens of donors to Romney’s Super PAC, Restore Our Future, already gave the maximum allowable amount to Romney’s campaign ($2,500). For the Super PAC, they ponied up as much as $1 million each.

Speaking of Super PACs …
If the primaries move to an earlier month on the calendar, voters could be going to the polls without knowing who paid for all those ads they have been seeing on TV. That’s because the elections would be held before Jan. 31, the Federal Election Commission deadline for Super PACs to turn in their disclosure forms.

Sarah Palin: Did she know, or didn’t she?
Potential donors got a solicitation from Sarah Palin’s PAC just a couple of weeks ago. The letter urged people to give money to show support for Palin while she decided whether to run for president. But did Palin already know she wasn’t running? Jon Stewart of The Daily Show said evidence suggests she did.

Rick Perry at top of third-quarter fundraising by Republicans, but is $17 million really that much?
Presidential candidate Rick Perry raised $17 million in the third quarter, more than any other Republican in the race (Mitt Romney raked in $14 million). But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much, or that impressive.

Colbert creates shell corporation
Still working to make a point about how lax the nation’s campaign finance rules are after Citizens United, comedian Stephen Colbert has created a shell corporation, named Anonymous Shell Corporation, to funnel money into his Super PAC. Doing so ensures that the sources of funding for the PAC remain hidden.

Sign up to host a house party!
Billions of dollars have started to pour from corporate coffers into the 2012 elections. We’re responding by ramping up support for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to spend as much as they want influencing elections. We need your help! Sign up to let us know you’re interested in hosting a house party this November, on the day after Election Day.

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