This is the last warning before you vote Tuesday.KAS


Issue #36 • October 29, 2010

We hope you enjoy this issue of Public Citizen’s e-newsletter about the intersection of money and politics. This is part of the campaign we developed following the disastrous Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts supporting or attacking 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:

  • 149: Number of independent groups that have spent money to influence this year’s elections (according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports through Oct. 25)
  • $176.1 million: Amount those groups have spent on the midterms
  • 10: Number of groups responsible for the bulk of that spending
  • 59.9 percent: The percentage of that money that comes from undisclosed sources

Public Citizen calls on electioneering groups to disclose corporate donors
Public Citizen has sent a letter to all groups that are conducting electioneering communications or independent expenditures in the 2010 elections, urging them to disclose to the public the sources and amounts of corporate contributions they use for their campaign spending.

Disclosed corporate funds are a fraction of what is hidden, heavily favor Republicans
Tapping into what few disclosure records exist of campaign spending by outside groups in the 2010 elections, Public Citizen has identified about 200 corporate contributors to a mere 29 independent groups that have reported their funding sources to the Federal Election Commission. These disclosure records account for a very small fraction of the record-breaking campaign spending by outside groups this year, but they confirm a widely suspected trend: Corporate money is heavily favoring Republican candidates by 11-to-1.

BP, other firms called out for trying to elect climate change deniers
BP is on the offense. The company is one of more than half a dozen polluters named by Climate Action Network Europe as pouring money into campaigns for candidates who oppose climate change legislation. In a new report, CAN Europe says the support “is all the more galling because the same companies argue that additional emissions reductions in Europe cannot be pursued until the United States takes action.”

Total estimated bill for midterms: $4 billion
The latest guesstimate from the Center for Responsive Politics of how much everybody – candidates, political parties and outside groups – will spend on the midterms is $4 billion.

Citing negative ads, New Hampshire Chamber cuts ties with U.S. Chamber
Saying that it was offended by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s political attack ads, a New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has cut its ties to the national group. The Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce is not renewing its membership to the U.S. Chamber. The U.S. Chamber plans to spend $75 million to influence midterm races. The U.S. Chamber has spent more than $1.3 million targeting Paul Hodes, the Democratic candidate running for U.S. Senate in the Granite State.

Gold’s Gym franchises leave after owner donates to anti-gay conservative group
Remember the Target controversy? Seems as though political donations have landed another company in hot water. Four Gold’s Gyms franchises in the San Francisco area are leaving the brand because Gold’s owner gave $2 million to American Crossroads, the conservative group created this year by Republican strategist Karl Rove. American Crossroads is helping anti-gay candidates; the San Francisco gyms get a lot of business from the LGBT community.

TARP aided companies make big donations to PACs
Companies that received money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, some of which still owe the government money, have made large donations to political action committees (PACs), The Washington Post reports. General Motors gave $190,000 to campaigns in the past month, some of which went to support candidates who opposed TARP support for the company.

Business execs say much corporate money being spent on elections
Business executives are concerned about the pressure exerted on them to cough up money to support political campaigns, a new poll shows. What’s more, two-fifths of them say the amount of corporate money being solicited for politics is too high.

National parties open lines of credit only weeks before elections
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has taken out a $10 million line of credit and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took out a $17 million line of credit less than two weeks before the midterm elections.


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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  1. eslkevin says:

    Here is what the Progress Report Notes:
    The Voter Fraud Fraud

    Employing baseless fear mongering about the (no longer existent) ACORN and other liberal groups that are supposedly trying to steal next week’s elections, conservative “anti-voter-fraud campaigns are popping up across the country, but their biggest rollouts have tended to be in lower-income areas with large minority populations.” From the Illinois Republican Party and Tea Party groups to the right-wing astro-turfing group American Majority Action, a startling number of right-wing groups have rolled out aggressive campaigns to “block Democrats…err, voter fraud, at the polls,” as Mother Jones’ Suzy Khimm sarcastically noted. While campaigns and political parties have long dispatched trained poll watchers and election judges to the polls to look for irregularities, this year, conservative groups are turning to grassroots activists with little or no training in thinly-veiled efforts to suppress liberal voter participation. Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin announced on Fox News that “we are all voter-fraud police now,” while American Majority Action lets anyone with an iPhone become a poll watcher with their Voter Fraud app. While combating fraud is of course important, these supposedly well-meaning efforts have a “chilling effect” on voter participation, notes Gerry Hebert, executive director of the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center. Conservative groups tend to target their efforts at communities with large minority or Democratic populations, claiming that fraud is more prevalent in these neighborhoods, with the effect of suppressing Democratic voters and disenfranchising minorities. Other times, groundless allegations of voter fraud are simply used to rile up the base before Election Day and undermine the credibility of opponents, but have the dangerous effect of also undermining voters’ faith in the electoral process.

    SUPPRESSION: This year’s election has been riven with conservative voter suppression efforts. This spring, the progressive group One Wisconsin Now uncovered collusion between the Wisconsin Republican Party and state’s Republican attorney general to engage in “voter caging,” a tactic in which groups attempt to disenfranchise voters by sending mail to addressees on the voter rolls — often targeting minority communities — and then compile lists of addressees from which the mail is returned undelivered, using that information to purge voter rolls. In Houston, the non-partisan Texans for Public Justice has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against the right-wing group King Street Patriots for engaging in voter suppression efforts. The Patriots have been targeting voters in Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D-TX) district, who said in a statement, “I was very concerned when I was informed of multiple incidents in which voters in predominately minority neighborhoods of my congressional district were intimidated and harassed. These incidents were documented by both the electronic and print media.” In Indiana, a “shoving match” broke out Saturday at a polling station after a GOP official was caught — illegally — photographing voters “in an intimidating manner.” The conservative Heritage foundation also puts out a “candidate book” every year which encourages Republican candidates to push for more suppressive voting rules, such as requiring voters to have photo IDs at the polls. Voter fraud hysteria is “happening to a degree we haven’t seen in years,” said Wendy Weiser, a voting rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. “They can be highly confrontational. That can cross the line into intimidation and voter suppression.” Some conservative groups even acknowledge that their tactics may flout election laws, “but they suggest that such a violation is worth the risk if there’s the potential of rooting out acts of electoral skulduggery.” Right-wing organizers ResistNet candidly admit that their activities could be illegal, but slyly suggest how activists might be able to skirt the rules: “It is illegal to video the polling place, but you can video the birds on top of the polling place or the dog sitting in front of it. If your video of birds or dogs happens to include voter vans, well… ”

    THE WRONG ANGLE: No where in the country have voter fraud allegations played a more significant role in the election than in the heated Nevada Senate race, where Republican challenger Sharron Angle has — without evidence — accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of trying to “steal this election.” In a fundraising plea to supporters, Angle’s attorney Cleta Mitchell wrote, “As Sharron Angle’s campaign attorney, I am sorry to report that the Democrats and their cronies are up to their same old tricks of trying to manipulate the election in hopes of skewing the results in their favor.” The only evidence Mitchell offered is that the Angle campaign had “received reports that some teachers union representatives were offering Starbucks cards to people to get them to vote for Harry Reid.” “Coffee and doughnuts was the entirety of the substance of the Angle allegations,” the Las Vegas Sun reports, but Mitchell confidently concluded that “what Harry Reid is doing is clearly illegal.” Meanwhile, an outside group called the Nevada Action Coalition has charged Reid with unsubstantiated accusations of election impropriety, telling supporters “the dark side has secret plans for this election.” They’ve alleged that voting machines have been sabotaged to change people’s votes to Reid, and have been holding seminars to train “lots of watchers” while encouraging voters to call their “Poll Watcher Hot Line.” But as the Sun reported, while the group bills itself as an independent “group of ordinary American citizens,” a non-profit group run by Angle donated almost $100,000 to the Nevada Action Coalition in 2008. Moreover, far beyond unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations, the Coalition claims that the federal government wants to merge the U.S. with “the corruption, socialism, poverty and population of Mexico and Canada” and designate a section of Kansas City as sovereign Mexican territory, according to its website. Election officials have squarely dismissed these fraud allegations, saying they had “not received any credible complaints of any fraud taking place.” Larry Lomax, the election official in Clark County, Nevada’s largest, said it is “technically impossible to pre-program” voting machines. “We have not had a single complaint filed,” said Secretary of State Ross Miller, who oversees elections and set up a robust Election Integrity Task Force in 2008. “[U]unfortunate and frankly,” Miller said the allegations are “irresponsible, because they undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process.” Unsurprisingly, Fox News host Glenn Beck jumped to Angle’s defense, confidently asserting — without any evidence — that Miller was merely doing the bidding of right-wing bogeyman billionaire George Soros and the Service Employees International Union. Surveying the baseless voter fraud allegations, veteran Nevada political journalist John Ralston wrote, “I am exhausted at the ignorance and repulsed by the vitriol.”

    NONEXISTENT FRAUD: Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the right-wing voter fraud hysteria is how rare voter fraud actually is. In 2002, the Bush administration made cracking down on voter fraud a top priority and after five years of investigations across the entire country, they brought only 86 convictions — hardly enough to sway even a single election, let alone a existential threat to American democracy. Moreover, most of the cases were “misunderstandings about voter eligibility, such as felons who voted without knowing it was illegal.” The administration found “virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.” A 2007 study by the Brennan Center reached a similar conclusion, reporting that “the vast majority of ‘fraud’ cases, it found, were due to typographical errors.” Slate’s Chris Beam has also detailed how exceedingly difficult it would be to actually commit voter fraud on any scale that would actually sway elections, considering that every person involved risks five years in jail and and a $10,000 fine. Meanwhile, in the 2008 Supreme Court Case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, which upheld Indiana’s law requiring voters to provide photographic identification, only a single case of fraud was deemed worthy of citation. Of course, the right has a long long history of fomenting conspiracy theories about voter fraud in efforts to actually suppress participation.


    Halliburton and BP knew that the Deepwater Horizon rig was facing serious structural problems before the April 20 blowout, according to the presidential commission investigating the accident. The commission staff determined that Halliburton conducted tests indicating that the cement at the rig was not up to industry standards, but did not take action.

    According to the Pentagon’s DADT survey findings reported yesterday, a majority of service members “would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops.” The survey’s results will be included in the Pentagon’s report for President Obama on December 1 regarding how the military would end the DADT policy.

    The EPA has again delayed a decision on whether to adopt tougher smog standards, a proposal that was opposed by oil refiners, manufacturers, and some Democrats running for office. The decision, scheduled for Sunday, has been put off indefinitely, and an EPA spokesman said the department was “working to ensure we get it right.”

    Unemployment claims dropped sharply last week, by 21,000 claims — the biggest drop in unemployment claims in any week since July.

    Yesterday, the government announced it had spent a record $80.1 billion on intelligence activities in the last year, an increase of nearly 7 percent over the previous year. In its first disclosure of both the civilian intelligence agencies and military budgets, the Defense Department said “no program details will be released.”

    Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo said this week that President Obama is a greater threat to the U.S. than al-Qaida. Speaking with voters in a local coffee shop, Tancredo said, “It’s not al-Qaida, it’s the guy sitting in the White House.”

    Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin opened the door slightly to a run for president in 2012, telling Entertainment Tonight that she would put her hat in the ring “if there’s nobody else to do it.” She said she’ll take a “real close look at the lay of the land” to see “whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job and I’ll get to be their biggest supporter and biggest helpmate if they will have me.”

    And finally: Early yesterday morning while Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called him with an urgent message: “You shouldn’t be on the phone while you are driving.” Actually, LaHood — who has launched a major campaign to urge people not to use cell phones while driving — was calling to say that Chaffetz’ district had been awarded a $500,000 federal grant for an airport, but he would only deliver the news after Chaffetz put in his hands free Bluetooth device.

  2. eslkevin says:

    THE PROGRESS REPORT yesterda stated:

    An Extreme Makeover

    During the current campaign season, many Republican candidates have pushed to revive failed and unpopular policies from the GOP past, such as eliminating the Department of Education or privatizing Social Security. “We need to get back to transferring many of the powers of the federal government to the states,” said Alaska’s Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller, calling for the abolition of Social Security as we know it. “I’d start by eliminating the U.S. Department of Education at a cost of $50 billion and then move on to Housing and Urban Development,” said Utah Republican Senate nominee Mike Lee. Lee’s call was echoed by Nevada’s Republi can Senate nominee Sharron Angle, who said, “I would like to go through to the elimination. I think we start by defunding it, and the reason that we should eliminate it is because its not the federal government’s job to provide education for our children.” And these newcomers to the national political stage may find many sympathetic ears in the incumbent Congress, as the GOP’s shift to the right and embrace of the Tea Party has caused it to espouse an extreme anti-government zeal. These ideas — and others becoming part of the mainstream right wing, like ending the 14th amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship — highlight the extreme policy positions that have come to define the modern-day conservative movement and the candidates that it has adopted.

    PRIVATIZING SOCIAL SECURITY : In 2005, President George W. Bush attempted to privatize Social Security, but the effort fell flat in the face of wide public opposition. Bush now says his greatest failure was not privatizing Social Security, and many Republicans are attempting to succeed where Bush did not. According to a Center for American Progress Action Fund review, 104 Republicans in Congress have, at one point or another, supported privatizing Social Security. In all, 47 percent of House Republicans and 49 percent of Senate Republicans are on record in support of the idea. Many Republican candidates for the Senate — including Pat Toomey (PA), Ken Buck (CO), John Boozman (AR), and Rob Portman (OH) — have also proposed some form of privatization. This push comes despite the 2008 turmoil in the stock market, which would have cost an October 2008 retiree almost $30,000 in lost savings. In the end, creating private Social Security accounts would impose new risks on seniors , create new administrative costs and benefit reductions, and wouldn’t even set the Social Security system on a path to solvency. In fact, such a move would force the federal government into trillions of dollars of new borrowing, as money that should have gone into the general Social Security system gets diverted into the creation of personal accounts. This is an unnecessary risk, as more than 13 million seniors (and 20 million people in all ) are kept out of poverty only because of Social Security.

    ABOLISHING THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION : As recently as 1996, the Republican Party platform declared, “The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education.” However, multiple bills attempting to do so were stymied in Congress. As ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes pointed out, “The last time the Republicans made a concerted effort to eliminate the Department of Education in 1995, they ran into a strong public backlash. Polling conducted by Hart Research Associates found that 80 percent of respondents in June 1995 wanted the Department of Education to be maintained, while just 17% wanted it eliminated.” And evidently not much has changed, as a new New York Times/CBS poll found that education funding is the last area in which respondents would like to see spending cuts. But that hasn’t stopped plenty of GOP candidates — 36 in all — from advocating for the Department’s abolition. And those candidates would find plenty of like-minded colleagues in Congress, as 75 incumbents have also supported the idea in the past. The Department of Education is currently responsible for the federal student loan program, Pell Grants, and education reform programs like the Teacher Incentive Fund and Race to the Top.

    ENDING BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP : In April, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), after previously working with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on crafting an immigration reform package, proposed that the 14th amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship should be overturned. “I’m looking at the laws that exist and see if it makes sense today,” Graham said. “Birthright citizenship doesn’t make so much sense when you understand the world as it is.” While Graham’s declaration was challenged by conservatives outside of Congress — Mark McKinnon, a former Republican adviser to President Bush, said, ” ;The 14th Amendment is a great legacy of the Republican party. It is a shame and an embarrassment that the GOP now wants to amend it for starkly political reasons” — Graham’s idea received a very different reception on Capitol Hill, with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) all saying Congress should at least hold hearings on the issue. In all, 130 Republicans in Congress want to consider ending the 14th amendment’s citizenship guarantee, which amounts to nearly 60 percent of the Republicans in Congress. As Keyes put it, “Ending birthright citizenship is no idle belief in the GOP caucus. Rather, Republicans have been pushing this idea for n early two decades, introducing 28 separate bills to eliminate birthright citizenship since 1995.”

    ABC News has received wide-ranging criticism for its decision to include “dishonest hatchet-man” Andrew Breitbart as part of its election night coverage. “This blindsided a good portion of the team here,” said an ABC source. “And not in a good way.” ABC has since clarified the decision, stressing that Breitbart is not affiliated with the network and that he will only appear on its website.

    Last Tuesday, the Fox Business Network devoted five hours of programming to a California ballot initiative, Proposition 24, which would repeal corporate tax breaks. The New York Times observes that during all the coverage, which overwhelmingly attacked Prop. 24, Fox Business Network never reported on one fact: its parent company, News Corp., spent $1.3 million to defeat the proposition.

    GOP House candidate Rich Iott, who drew fire after photos emerged of him wearing a Nazi uniform, refused to support House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) for Speaker Saturday. Boehner took significant flak for campaigning for Iott, but “moments after Boehner spoke” in Toledo on Iott’s behalf, Iott said, “I don’t know” about Boehner for Speaker.

    Top Republican advisers to the 2012 presidential contenders and veteran GOP operatives now have “a common, if uncoordinated, mission of halting the momentum and credibility” of Sarah Palin. Palin’s “intensely polarizing political style and often halting and superficial answers when pressed on policy” make GOP elites view the prospect of her 2012 nomination “a disaster in waiting.”

    Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the “top Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security,” praised the Obama Administration for successfully stopping an attempted terrorist bombing revealed last week. “The administration handled it perfectly. I give them full credit,” said King during an appearance on CBS’s Face The Nation.

    According to the New York Times, the leaders of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the secretive groups lead by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie which have already spent millions of dollars in this election cycle, are already gearing up for the 2012 elections. They told major donors that they planned to be “even more effective” during the presidential elections.

    During an appearance on the Univision program “Al Punto,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to bring the DREAM Act back for a vote in the lame-duck session. “We all support the DREAM Act. I just need a handful of Republicans to help me,” he told the station.

    The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear Arizona’s appeal today of a lower-court ruling that blocked “the most-contested provisions” of SB1070 from taking effect. In July, the Obama administration succeeded in blocking provisions requiring police to check immigration status when stopping someone, allowing for warrantless arrests, and criminalizing failure of legal immigrants to carry registration papers.

    And finally: Ahead of his big rally in Washington on Saturday, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton challenged Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert to drink the “Eleanor’s Revenge” — a cocktail served at a local bar that was named after Norton. Norton has an “ongoing feud with Colbert over his jokes about D.C.’s lack of voting rights” and said she would make sure the drink was “strong enough” for “some payback.”

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