Weekly News Roundup 9/28


From our blog:

Romney Fails and T-Paw Bails…to Work for Wall Street?

Why Removing Money and Lobbying from Politics is the Only Thing that Matters Today

Call to action:

Debates w/ only Dems & Repubs are a farce! We demand real debates!

“The presidential debates are the first opportunity for millions of voters to see the presidential contenders themselves, not just their advertising campaigns. These debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) - a supposedly "nonpartisan" corporation which is a puppet of the national Democratic and Republican parties, and the big corporations that fund both of them. The CPD's criteria to be included in these debates are designed to exclude independent contenders who promote ideas that challenge those in power.”


OpenSecrets Webchat Oct. 4: Ask the Experts -- How Will Citizens United Affect 2012?

“Next Thursday, Oct. 4, the Center for Responsive Politics will sponsor a webchat on the fallout from Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A roundtable of experts -- David Magleby, Ray La Raja, Timothy Werner, Diana Dwyre and CRP's Bob Biersack -- will be on hand to discuss, among other things, how the 2010 decision has led to a surge in independent expenditures by unions and corporations.”

News from around the web:

Romney Unwittingly Explains Why Citizens United Was Wrong

“At a forum on education policy on Tuesday morning, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched into an unexpected explanation of why big money should be kept out of our political system.”

Cardin Backs Obama on Citizens United Repeal

An effort endorsed by President Barack Obama to draft a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision seems to be gaining traction in Congress.

Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin told The Daily Caller that “it may be necessary for Congress to try to initiate a constitutional change” in order to limit the money involved in elections.’

Citizens United Ruling Accounts for 78 Percent of Outside Campaign Spending

“The landmark 2010 Supreme Court ruling that struck down longstanding prohibitions on corporate political spending now accounts for 78 percent of spending by outside groups trying to influence the outcome of the 2012 election, according to a study conducted by the non-profit and non-partisan Sunlight Foundation.”

Amendment 65: A Non-Binding Retort To Citizens United

“Some 182,113 state residents signed the petitions that take direct aim at the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial “Citizens United” decision, which essentially held that the First Amendment allows corporations and unions to spend freely on elections.”

Are Super-PACs Overhyped?

‘With six weeks until Election Day and Barack Obama's polling advantage holding steady, a new narrative is emerging about the first presidential election of the super-PAC era. It goes something like this: All the hue and cry about outside interests buying the election has been misguided; in fact, about the only thing super-PACs have been good for is blowing their rich backers' money. "A summer of vast campaign spending and dark warnings about sinister, secret donors is on the verge of being replaced by a fall in which rich men spend a lot of time explaining to their wives why they wasted millions of dollars," Buzzfeed's Ben Smith wrote last week.’

Bain Capital Owns Clear Channel (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Etc.)

“Wouldn’t it be great if a Republican presidential candidate could just buy the support of just about every major conservative talk show host in America?  Well, it may not be as far-fetched as you may think.”

Million-Dollar Megaphones: Super PACs and Unlimited Outside Spending in the 2012 Elections

“Demos and U.S. PIRG Education Fund analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and secondary sources on outside spending and Super PAC fundraising for the first two quarters of the 2012 election cycle reveals:

Outside spending by organizations that aggregate unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and institutions is playing a significant role in the 2012 election cycle, and much of it is not disclosed.

Super PACs continue to be tools used by a small number of wealthy individuals and institutions to dominate the political process.”

The Founders Versus the Funders

“The problem in America’s democracy that Citizens United has come to represent can be simply stated: The People have lost faith in their government.”

With more control over campaign cash, Obama gets more discounts on advertising

“As the presidential campaigns step up the pace of their multimillion-dollar spending sprees, President Obama has a little-noticed strategic advantage that gives him more control over the money he has raised.

While Mitt Romney relies heavily on massive amounts of cash held by the Republican Party and interest groups, Obama has more funds in his own campaign coffers. That allows him to make decisions about where and how to spend the money and to take better advantage of discounted ad rates, which candidates receive under federal law.”

Citizens United's New Movie, Ways & Means' Closed-Door Meeting, and More

More information on and the trailer for Citizens United’s new anti-Obama film.

Republican super PACs hit a crossroads

“Republican super PACs are about to face a potentially existential test of their reach and impact as the 2012 election cycle comes to a close, with their spending being closely watched as a way of answering a central question at the core of modern American politics: can an avalanche of money from outside groups move the needle in the presidential race and Senate contests across the country?”

Super PACs get new use -- as lobbying arms on Hill

“From autism research to dentists, a growing number of issue-based organizations are preparing to use these powerful political committees not for their prescribed purpose — advocating for the election or defeat of candidates — but as de facto lobbying arms on Capitol Hill.”

What Citizens United (et al) Wrought: The Shadow Money Explosion

The article includes a visualization and graphs produced by Newsweek & The Daily Beast in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics to illustrate the influx of money into the 2012 campaign.

The Dark Money Shuffle

This is the second installment in a series by The Daily Beast, in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics, on the influx of money into the 2012 campaign. 

The Super-PAC Economy

This is the first installment in a series by The Daily Beast, in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics, on the influx of money into the 2012 campaign.

Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry's, launches dollar-stamping campaign

Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and a liberal activist, has hit on a concrete way to drive home the message about the role that money plays in politics.

“We are going to adorn currency,” he declared in a phone interview. “We are going to beautify our dollars. It’s a little monetary jujitsu – we’re using money to get money out of politics.”

Wealthy Right Wingers Including the Kochs Have Pledged to Raise $1 Billion to Elect Romney and Other Republicans

Support from nominally independent Super PACs and dark money groups gives Romney a significant financial edge over President Obama.

Corporations Are Not People: Citizens United and the Global Climate Crisis

By allowing corporations the same “free speech” as people, ordinary American voices are suppressed and lawmakers are convinced that corporate interests are the real American issues. And by casting doubt on the science, corporations silence the voices of Americans who are impacted by climate change, postponing or preventing mitigation opportunities and investments in potential solutions like green technology.

Why Congressional Wealth Matters

An income gap exists between Congress and the general population, and the gap is getting bigger. The Center For Responsive Politics documents the increase of congressional wealth over the past few years. In effect, Americans are now being represented not by their peers; but by the 1 percent.

Yet as members of Congress have gotten richer, more Americans have fallen down the economic laddres. According to Pew Research Center, “in 2011, the middle-income tier included 51% of all adults, down from 61% in 1971.” Unless a substantial number of the formerly middle class joined congress, they are getting poorer.

Can People-Powered Democracy Work? A Maryland Congressman Bets "Yes"

Congressman John Sarbanes was frustrated with the state of political fundraising in the wake ofCitizens United, and looking for another way.  He'd heard about systems that increase the value of small contributions by matching them with public dollars—turning a $25 contribution into $150 or $175, for example. […]So, he set out to do it himself, and quite literally put his money where is mouth is. In October 2011, Congressman Sarbanes launched a Grassroots Donor Project. He set aside $500,000 in campaign funds that he would not touch until he could raise 1,000 contributions of $100 or less. On July 9, 2012 his campaign announced he'd reached his goal. And, today Congressman Sarbanes is announcing the introduction of legislation to create a system that will harness the power of grassroots donors and help ordinary citizens counteract the increasing influence of the tiny minority of wealthy donors that currently dominate the process: the Grassroots Democracy Act.

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