Empire - US Democracy: The Power of Money. Infographic: What's the Cost of Getting Into Congress? (Scaling) Wal-Mart took part in lobbying campaign to amend anti-bribery law. The effort has intensified in the past two years, drawing on the backing of several large companies and trade groups such as the Retail Industry Leaders Association, where one of Wal-Mart’s top executives serves as a director.
It also has involved high-powered lobbyists, including former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey. The 1977 law, known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, prohibits U.S. companies from offering fees or gifts to foreign officials to advance corporate interests. When the GOP Tried to Ban Dark Money. For a brief moment a decade ago, it was Republicans who wanted disclosure of anonymous political donations that Democrats now decry.
Last month, when House Democrats introduced  the DISCLOSE 2012 Act to try to stop the flow of secret "dark money" into the electoral process, it marked an ironic twist. A decade ago, it was Republicans who were pushing for disclosure of donors to nonprofit social welfare groups who are now pouring millions into political attack ads and House Democrats who opposed them. Now the parties have exchanged positions. The groups in question are nonprofits known as  501(c)(4)s, after the section of the tax code that describes them. The best-known of the newer c4's are the Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads GPS , which last year raised a $33 million war chest to support Republicans, and the Obama-affiliated Priorities USA , which is expected to play a similar role for the president.
The 501(c)(4) category is not new. Democrats on the committee opposed it. Double Standards Galore. I happened to be flying on American Airlines the morning after the company declared bankruptcy.
Exactly nothing bad happened to my flight. Nobody passed the hat to buy aviation fuel.
The Man Behind Citizens United Is Just Getting Started. Photo: Jay Fram IN JANUARY 2008, James Bopp got laughed out of court—literally.
The white-haired lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana, was appearing before a federal three-judge panel in Washington, DC, to argue that his client, a small conservative nonprofit named Citizens United, should be able to air Hillary: The Movie on on-demand TV during the Democratic presidential primaries. Citizens United had produced the film to show that Hillary Clinton was a "European socialist" and ruthless political schemer—a cross between Machiavelli and Lady Macbeth who "looks good in a pantsuit," as Ann Coulter put it in the movie. Also featured was Kathleen Willey, who accused Bill Clinton of hugging and kissing her in the White House—and who suggested in the film that Clinton had helped hatch a plot to assassinate her cat. At that point, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth laughed out loud. But as Bopp himself likes to say, the First Amendment is not a loophole. How Dependent are Super PACs on Top Contributors? Not so super PACs.
Are the new funding groups bad for democracy?
Photo: matthileo. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has led to an explosion of campaign spending. Photograph by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images.
Most of what you hear about Citizens United v. FEC is negative. The Dark Money Shakedown. This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website. A bit over an hour into the five-hour drive across the ferrous red plateau, heading south toward Uganda's capital Kampala, suddenly, there's the Nile, a boiling, roiling cataract at this time of year, rain-swollen and ropy and rabid below the bridge that vaults over it. If Niagara Falls surged horizontally and a rickety bridge arced, shudderingly, over the torrent below, it might feel like the Nile at Karuma. Naturally, I take out my iPhone and begin snapping pics. Sugar Daddies. Larry McCarthy, Mitt Romney, and Restore Our Future Super PAC. Editor’s note appended.
Mitt Romney, in his struggle to wrap up the 2012 Republican nomination for the Presidency, has presented himself as an outsider. During an exchange with Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, at a recent Republican debate, Romney declared that “to get this country out of the mess it’s in” Americans need leaders “from outside Washington, outside K Street.” One television ad by Romney supporters makes the same argument against Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, calling him “the ultimate Washington insider” while showing his face in front of an image of the Capitol dome. Romney, unlike the remaining Republican candidates, has served no time in Washington.
Yet he’s relying on a media offensive managed by operatives who have long been at the heart of Washington’s Republican attack machine. McCarthy is known for his ability to distill a complicated subject into a simple, potent, and usually negative symbol. “You thought that was fair?” The road to political dictatorship. Is US democracy being bought and sold. Has money corrupted US politics beyond repair?
The landmark Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruled that individuals working through corporations, unions, or independent political action committees, known as SuperPACs, could make unlimited campaign contributions. The Corruption Of Our Entire Political Class Explained In One Paragraph. Ari Berman: The politics of the super rich. Guess The Politician... And Follow The Money. A few days ago we presented a roster of the top contributors to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign as reported by OpenSecrets.
Today we have done the same for two other candidates, representing two previous election cycles: 2008 and 2004. The first table shows Romney's key contributors to date. No One Is Above the Law, Even Megabanks. Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, is the co-author of “13 Bankers.”
The American ideal of equal and impartial justice under law has repeatedly been undermined by attempts to concentrate power. Our political system has many advantages, but it also provides motive and opportunity for resourceful people to become so strong they can elude the legal constraints that bind others. The most obvious example is the oil and railroad trusts at the end of the 19th century. A version of the same process is happening again today, but what has become concentrated is not a vital energy source or the nation’s transport arteries but rather something much more abstract – financial sector risk.
Tom Ferguson: The Devil and Rick Santorum – Dilemmas of a Holy Owned Subsidiary. By Thomas Ferguson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of many books and articles, including Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems. Cross posted from Alternet The father of the Investment Theory of Politics reveals what pundits miss in the GOP’s failure to lead its own electorate and its evangelical problem. Election night in Iowa was a heavenly moment for Rick Santorum. As he marveled over the late breaking tidal wave of support that in just weeks had swept him from nowhere into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney for first place in the state’s Republican caucuses, the former Pennsylvania Senator gushed to supporters about the secret of his campaign’s success: “I’ve survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God. . . .
But it was not God who saved Rick Santorum. The Second Gilded Age: Has America Become an Oligarchy? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International. At first, the outraged members of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York were mainly met with ridicule. They didn't seem to stand a chance and were judged incapable of going up against their adversaries, Wall Street's bankers and financial managers, either intellectually or in terms of economic knowledge.
"We are the 99 percent," is the continuing chant of the protestors, who are now in their seventh week of marching through the streets of Manhattan. And, surprisingly, they have hit upon the crux of America's problems with precisely this sentence. Indeed, they have given shape to a development in the country that has been growing more acute for decades, one that numerous academics and experts have tried to analyze elsewhere in lengthy books and essays. It's a development so profound and revolutionary that it has shaken the world's most powerful nation to its core. Inequality in America is greater than it has been in almost a century. A New 'Gilded Age' Jeffrey Sachs: Paul Ryan, American Values, and Corporatocracy. My new book, The Price of Civilization, describes why America needs a "mixed economy," one where a more effective federal government regulates business and invests alongside the business sector.
Barack Obama Has, on Average, Attended a Fundraiser Every Five Days in 2011. Zhang Jun/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com On Wednesday, President Obama zipped up to New York City to attend three different fundraising events. Occupy Wall Street protesters greeted the president outside the Sheraton New York, the site of one of Obama's fundraisers, though New York police officers kept the demonstrators penned in what NYPD called "frozen zones. " (More on that here.) But perhaps the most interesting item to come out of Obama's New York swing was this statistic, via CBS News' Mark Knoller: Sixty-nine fundraisers this year by December 1. Obama's fundraising activity surpasses that of predecessors George W.
Jeff Connaughton: Obama and the Rule of Law. Long silent and now contradictory, President Obama needs to deliver a clarifying speech about our financial markets and the rule of law. Speaking in Kansas on December 6, he said, "Too often, we've seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there's no price for being a repeat offender. "
National Institute on Money in State Politics. The Institute's Blog: Nonpartisan. Timely. Transparent. The Sun Never Rises: Sources of Michigan’s Dark Money Set to Remain HiddenTwo days after Christmas, Governor Rick Snyder gave a belated gift to dark money groups and those donors who felt stifled by Michigan’s campaign finance limits. Influenceexplorer. Rootstrikers - Fighting the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Is Our Republic Lost? Over the weekend I finished Larry Lessig’s most recent (and ambitious) book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It. Amongst those of us who considered Lessig our foremost voice on issues of Internet policy, his abrupt pivot to focus on government corruption was both disorienting and disheartening: here was our best Internet thinker, now tilting at government windmills. I mean, fix government? American society / economy / politics.