Issue #46 • January 28, 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:
* $5.6 million: The amount House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) received in corporate-linked donations during the 2010 midterm campaign
* 40 percent: The increase in corporate donations Cantor received between 2008 and 2010
* $1.2 million: The amount Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the new head of the financial services committee, received from banking interests in the midterms. Bachus wants to undo financial reform.
* $400,000: The amount Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), new chair of the energy and commerce committee, took from energy and mining industries
* 50 percent: The increase in donations to Upton from energy and mining interests between 2008 and 2010
GOP leaders move to axe presidential public financing system
Saying that eliminating it is a no-brainer, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 239-160 this week to eliminate the public financing system for presidential campaigns. That’s the system put in place after Watergate to curb the influence of big corporations in elections. Because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a proponent of the system, there is little chance of the system being axed. Public Citizen and other groups roundly condemned the GOP’s effort.
Obama State of Union comments on lobbying disappoint all
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama called for Congress to do what the White House has done: list all visits with lobbyists online. Lawmakers responded sourly, suggesting Obama should keep out of congressional operations. Campaign finance reform advocates were not impressed either. Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told The Hill that the speech was disappointing because Obama failed to mention Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.
Koch brothers hold conservative caucus in California
The billionaire conservative brothers who backed an unsuccessful California ballot measure to suspend the state’s efforts to address climate change are holding a planning meeting this weekend in that state. The goal: To come up with a conservative agenda for future elections. Common Cause, Greenpeace and other organizations plan to protest.
Speaking of the Kochs …
They apparently can’t take a joke. Several environmentalists last year pulled a prank on the company, setting up a mock website and issuing a press release in Koch Industries’ name, claiming that the company had changed its stance on climate change. (The Koch brothers bankroll climate change denial.) Koch went to court to try to unmask the identities of the spoofers. Public Citizen is now representing them and filed a brief this week explaining why the Kochs have no case.
We got it wrong: Citizens United fallout much worse than we had thought
Now that we have suffered through our first post-Citizens United election, it is time for critics of the Supreme Court’s decision to admit we got it wrong. The impact has been far greater and far worse than we anticipated.
Minnesota senator refuses to meet with anyone who supported opponent
When the Minnesota Nurses Association contacted state Sen. Scott Newman and requested a meeting, they got a nasty surprise. His office sent a note back saying that the senator will not meet with anyone who supported his opponent, either financially or otherwise. “After some careful checking, I discovered that the MNA had donated to Kimball’s campaign. Your association will be unable to schedule an appointment with Senator Newman,” the note said.
Vermont aims to end corporate personhood
Vermont state lawmakers have introduced a measure to end corporate personhood. The idea is to counteract the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and raises some interesting legal questions.
Visit http://www.DontGetRolled.org to learn more!