Email date: 7/8/13
In this update:
1. Public, politicians at odds over money in politics
2. A better response to Citizens United
3. The best response to Citizens United
4. Tell PBS to air ‘Citizen Koch’
Public, politicians at odds over money in politics
At a time when the Gallup Poll is showing that four out of five Americans believe there should be tighter limits on political contributions and half say they could support banning donations altogether in favor of a system of public financing, lawmakers in states across the country are moving in the opposite direction.
Six governors, including three from each major party, already have signed bills increasing campaign contributions limits so far in 2013. Nearly a dozen other states are considering such measures. In Wisconsin, legislation doubling the state’s limits on political donations was passed last month with bipartisan support in the Assembly and awaits action in the Senate.
The push to allow bigger donations to political candidates and parties is defended as necessary to counter the explosion in spending by interest groups after the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case. Saying the answer to the post-Citizens United flood of special interest money in elections is to allow candidates and parties to receive even larger donations is like saying the way to treat cancer in one part of the body is to introduce cancer cells into other organs.
A better response to Citizens United
While politicians from coast to coast are itching to treat the cancer growing in the body of democracy with more cancer, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission is contemplating action that would strike a far more effective blow against Citizens United.
TAKE ACTION: TELL THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION TO MANDATE CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY AND PUT SHAREHOLDERS IN CHARGE OF POLITICAL DECISIONS
Emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, CEOs have been spending unprecedented amounts of corporate money to influence our elections.
But corporate money doesn’t really belong to CEOs – it belongs to the shareholders.
Many if not most Americans are shareholders but may not realize it, because so many people have retirement savings in mutual funds or other investment accounts primarily made up of stock in various companies. When you hold this stock in a corporation, you own a piece of the corporation – and you should know how it spends your money.
Corporate America shouldn’t be able to use the public’s retirement savings or other investments as its secret political war chest.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal agency, has the authority to require publicly traded companies to disclose how they spend money on politics.
Subject line: Comment on File Number 4-637
SAMPLE MESSAGE TO THE SEC:
I am deeply concerned about the influence of corporate money on our electoral process.
In particular, I am appalled that, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, publicly traded corporations are spending investors’ money on political activity in secret.
I am writing to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose all their political spending.
Both shareholders and the public must be fully informed as to how much the corporation spends on politics and which candidates are being promoted or attacked. Disclosures should be posted promptly on the SEC’s web site.
Thank you for considering my comment.
The best response to Citizens United
SEC rulemaking to require full disclosure of corporate election spending would be a giant leap in the right direction. But ultimately, the Citizens United decision needs to be overturned. Fortunately, one of the biggest stories in American politics is the growing momentum behind the push to amend the constitution to do just that. It’s also one of the least reported stories.
Tell PBS to air ‘Citizen Koch’
Among the prime beneficiaries of the Citizens United decision are the billionaire Koch brothers. The ruling gave them even greater ability to throw their weight around in the political arena, and the documentary film “Citizen Koch” shows and tells how they made use of it in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the country. The movie, in which Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe appears, was supposed to be shown on public television until the Kochs threw their weight around there too. Now citizens are petitioning PBS to reconsider its decision and air the film. We hope you will take a minute to sign the petition.