Citizens United

Latest ALEC Articles, Posts and Materials – For July 1-7

Latest ALEC Articles, Posts and Materials – For July 1-7

By Bob Sloan

ALEC and their supporters have been busy of late.  Click on the article headline to visit and read the entire article…

I apologize for the lapse of reporting on ALEC, but my health has been interfering with my work of late.  Will try and keep all our readers better informed going forward.

ALEC seeking new “Directors” for key positions as Director of Nonprofit and Corporate Relations and Director of Nonprofit and Corporate Alliances.

CMD Calls for Nebraska Ethics Investigation over ALEC Keystone “Academy” Junket

— by Nick Surgey and Brendan Fischer

The Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint yesterday with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission alleging that Nebraska Senator Jim Smith, a major proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, failed to disclose significant travel expenses paid for by the Government of Alberta, Canada during Smith’s participation in an “Oil Sands Academy” organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The trip was sponsored by the operator of the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada, which may raise additional concerns under the ethics and lobbying code.

Smith and nine other ALEC legislators participated in the “academy” sponsored by TransCanada in Alberta, Canada last October, where they were shepherded around oil extraction facilities and rubbed shoulders with oil industry lobbyists. The Government of Alberta even chartered a flight during the tour to fly the participants to tar sand operations, which reportedly cost around $1,500 per legislator.

Fire Island Erupts Over Verizon’s Wireless Voice Link: New York AG Claims Verizon Violated Agreement

The future of telecommunications in the U.S. is being played out on the sandy beaches of Fire Island, NY. Forget about not being upgraded to fiber optic services. Customers are “extremely disappointed,” “horrified,” “very frustrated,” with “grave distress and dissatisfaction” about Verizon’s plan to stop fixing their phone lines and giving them an inferior wireless replacement, Voice Link, which can’t handle basic plain old telephone service, “POTs” services like fax, DSL or even reliable e911 service…

…In our previous article we highlighted how Verizon Voice Link’s deployment ties to Verizon and ATT’s plan to abandon whole areas of the U.S. and decline to repair the copper wiring, even after a storm. The phone companies and a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, created ‘model’ legislation that has been burning through the states, removing basic obligations, from quality of service requirements, state commission oversight to even removing “carrier of last resort,” where the company no longer has to provide basic services. 

On Independence Day, Fight for the Voting Rights That Secure Our Freedoms

This is our first Fourth of July in a generation where we are officially without the heart of the Voting Rights Act. When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted section 4 of the law, throwing out protections ranging from voter suppression tactics like gerrymandering maps to unduly burdensome ID laws to restrictions on early and absentee voting, the Court immediately disenfranchised Americans from sea to shining sea….

…North Carolina is not merely, as Rachel Maddow said, “conservatives gone wild” — it is no coincidence that the Supreme Court gutted the voting rights act and the North Carolina legislature moved to restrict human rights just days later:

It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking reproductive freedoms.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking same sex marriages.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking immigrants’ rights.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking workers’ rights.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking living wages.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking guns safety laws.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking polluter pay laws.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking consumer protections.

And it is definitely no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking Citizens United repeal. There is a clear line — drawn by conservatives at the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council with a literal “wish list” and dozens of allies determined to limit voting rights in order to advance narrow interests.

LETTER: No way is Wisdom High a ‘D’

Most of us in Maine know that ideological beliefs drive Gov. LePage and his administration; one is the idea that public schools are failing our children and therefore must be eliminated. Public schools are failing our children and we now have the “proof” via these grades that that is the case.

Gov. LePage and Mr. Bowen take their guidance from a right wing conservative think tank called American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC has one agenda on education: Get rid of public schools so they can introduce their favorite agendas; privatize schools through school vouchers; create more charter schools; water down teacher licensing; support private schools using taxpayer funds; erode local control; create more home school regulations; encourage virtual schooling

Under the influence of ALEC

It seems that daily, we are provided with glimpses of how inane politics and policymaking can be. We need to look no further than our own legislators for amazing examples. While North Carolina faces real problems, state lawmakers have spent the time necessary to craft a bill that will protect food suppliers from lawsuits. Furthermore, these lawmakers have included a provision in the same bill that restricts municipalities from limiting the size of soft drinks.

In fact, the News and Observer of Raleigh reported on Friday that a Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would prevent people from suing food suppliers for making them fat. The same bill ensures that municipalities cannot limit the size of soda pop for sale. Known as the “Big Gulp” bill, this type of “oversight” clearly belies the ruling party’s claims of being opposed to big government intrusion.

Even worse, this bill makes our state legislature look like a pawn being directed to and fro by the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC claims that it provides model legislation for lawmakers nationwide as way to promote free market and conservative ideals. By several accounts, though, ALEC exists merely to serve the Republican Party and large corporations and their interests, often at the expense of the consumer. As details on the organization have come to light in recent months, it has lost some key financial backers, Coke and Pepsi among them – ironically.

ALEC, for those who may not be aware, is the group that has provided and promoted voter registration legislation that aims to restrict voter turnout. It also helped write Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

According to Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican, this “Big Gulp” legislation (put together by ALEC) would prevent “legal extortion.” Sadly, this piece of legislation appears to do nothing more than distract the state’s elected officials from governance, and distraction is something at which they have proved to be quite adept.

For the party that decries big government, this action is truly laughable. This is big government at its worst: It thwarts the public to the benefit of fat cat donors.

State legislators not asking for ALEC membership reimbursement

Remember that controversy from a few months ago, when the Legislature’s Executive Board decided to pay for membership dues of lawmakers belonging to the strongly business-oriented American Legislative Exchange Council?

At the time, Democratic legislators made clear they didn’t want memberships purchased for them. Democrats also paid for newspaper ads denouncing the use of public funds for ALEC dues because of the organization’s political stances and financial supporters.

Now another policy is in place. Maher directed the Legislative Research Council to pay for ALEC memberships only if legislators submit vouchers requesting reimbursement. The membership cost is $100 for a two-year term.

Here’s the kicker. So far, no legislator has requested ALEC membership reimbursement. That’s according to Jim Fry, executive director for the LRC, which is the Legislature’s professional, non-partisan staff.

When a Democratic legislator, Rep. Kathy Tyler of Big Stone City, said travel payments should be restricted to the organizations in which the Legislature is a member, a Republican legislator, Rep. Betty Olson of Prairie City, called for ALEC memberships to be provided for all legislators.

The board’s Republican majority adopted the policy to pay ALEC dues. That was the board’s April 23 meeting. The ALEC matter didn’t come up again at the two subsequent meetings May 13 and June 10. The board’s next meeting is set for Aug. 19.

The Court’s Ambivalence

As others observe elsewhere in this issue, our nation’s policy is advancing by degrees not just into a different future, but, it would seem, into two different futures, mutually exclusive in their intent.

The most obvious case in point resides with the Supreme Court, which in consecutive days in the last fortnight has laid waste to pretty much everybody’s conventional stereotypes. Was the court “conservative” or even reactionary when it cast into the litter bin of history Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act? Was it “liberal” when, the very next day, it found in favor of plaintiffs in cases challenging Proposition 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act nationally?

The fact is that both judgments were 5-4 decisions which, taken together, say something about the essential ambivalence of the time. But let us do some hair-splitting of our own, by way of making sense of it all. The point of the voting rights decision, on the face of what the decision both said and implied, was that in those deep South states where the franchise was at issue for African Americans, there is no longer any problem worth taking advance precautions over.

Really? Then the court is agreeing with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing pressure group which has churned out a one-size-fits-all law requiring photo IDs for voting and sold it to the conservative legislatures in a growing number of states. So it’s “fraud” that’s being targeted and not poor folks, black folks, and older folks, the groups most likely to be without photo IDs. Sure.

Take it back from corporations

 Anyone who has been paying any attention at all knows that nation-less corporations and mega-wealthy individuals are destroying our democracy and killing our country. They choose our elected official of both parties by anointing candidates with money to buy expensive deceptive TV ads. They inundate our legislatures with slick lobbyists. They own and control our news resources. They write our laws through the corporate funded American Legislative Exchange Council. They exempt themselves from reasonable taxation and regulation. Rather than creating jobs they create their right to export our jobs. They intentionally screw government up and then call for everything to be privatized so they can make more money. It’s time for us to declare our independence from nation-less corporations and the mega-wealthy.
A constitutional amendment is required to keep wealth from dominating our democracy. Sixteen states have called for such an amendment. An initiative, a real people’s initiative, will be held in Washington state next year. Visit WAMEND.org and washclean.org for information about how you can help. We’ll need signature gatherers.

The ultra-wealthy and their nation-less, mindlessly profit-driven corporations are eating our democracy and our future. They are anything but patriotic. On Independence Day let’s, “Let ’em eat cake.”

ALEC related support and/or propaganda from Right Wing outlets:

Nixon failing to bolster Missouri’s economy

According to a recently released report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Show-Me state ranked 42nd in economic performance — over the past 10 years! We are ranked 47th in state gross domestic product, meaning we aren’t producing many goods.

As a result, we aren’t creating many jobs — that’s why our unemployment rate remains stagnant at 6.8 percent, nearly double Nebraska’s unemployment rate and substantially higher than many of our neighbors like Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma.

This may explain why over the past three years, Missouri has suffered a net loss in migration as people leave for stronger economies.

Why are we in this mess? Gov. Jay Nixon refuses to lead and has taken zero initiative to grow the Show-Me State.

EPA Growth Knows No Limits

Simply put, the president is using Congressional inaction as a pretext for a climate policy power grab, and that is very troubling. Alas, it is only the latest development in a worrying accumulation of authority at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A new American Legislative Exchange Council report, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty, reveals that the agency has been systematically centralizing environmental protection by seizing rightful control from the states and replacing local community input with extreme environmental activists.

 

Koch Bros Exploit Loophole in Judicial Conduct Rules

Koch Bros Exploit Loophole in Judicial Conduct Rules

New Investigation Reveals Corporate Interests Have Been Quietly Influencing Federally Appointed Judges

Leave it to the Koch brothers to find a perfectly legal way to buy influence with federally appointed judges. The billionaire siblings are already well-established in their gluttonous abuse of lax campaign finance laws under Citizens United — pulling the strings of elected judges, but they’ve also been quietly greasing the palms of appointed judges too.

The Center for Public Integrity released a report on March 28th that details the results of their investigation into the corporate exploitation of a loophole found in The Code of Conduct for United States Judges. In that code, we find canon 4D(4) which refers to the Judicial Conference Gift Regulations which states that the following type of “gift” is allowable under the law, if it:

“…consists of an invitation and travel expenses, including the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals for the officer or employee and a family member to attend a bar-related function, an educational activity, or an activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.”

Translation: Training seminars, and plenty of them, with titles like “The Moral Foundations of Capitalism”, “Corporations and the Limits of Criminal Law”, Terrorism, Climate & Central Planning: Challenges to Liberty and the Rule of the Law”, and “Criminalization of Corporate Conduct”.

Sound like fun? Well, apparently 185 federal judges thought so. Fully 11 percent of these appointed members of the judiciary felt compelled to be wined, dined and “educated” in these classes, among the other 100 such seminars sponsored by corporate interests between 2008 and 2012.

Most seminars were paid for by multiple benefactors, but some sponsors were more enthusiatic than others. The Charles G. Koch Charitable Trust Foundation, The Searle Freedom Trust, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, Pfizer, and State Farm Insurance all stepped-up to fund, or co-fund, 54 seminars each. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Dow Chemical, AT&T, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce similarly shelled-out for around 50 learning experiences for our federal judges. Many of these seminars were held at George Mason University, who coincidentally recently received a $4.4 million donation from the Koch brothers.

Judicial impropriety, or just the appearance thereof?

For disallowed behaviors, the judicial code of conduct does not make a significant distinction between the two because their net result is the same: a public diminution of respect for the judiciary. But, since this activity is permissible, judges are fair game for corporate interests — and, boy do they ever know it.

Federal Judge E. Grady Jolly, of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, attended the 2009 seminar, “Criminalization of Corporate Behavior”, sponsored by American Petroleum and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The judge later went on to rule against the EPA in a suit where the plaintiffs were (you guessed it) American Petroleum and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barber also attended that 2009 seminar, and went on to dismiss a strong wrongful death case against ExxonMobil and Chevron USA — both corporations were also co-sponsors of the seminar. This judge has recently been assigned the BP Deepwater Horizon case. He will decide if the oil company owes the U.S. billions in fines from the 2010 blow-out which killed 11, and damaged the gulf coast environment and economy for untold years and in yet undiscovered ways.

(editor’s note:  also please see VLTP’s Special Investigative Report – ALEC’s Koch-Funded Cabal’s Educating our Federal Judges, by clicking here)

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

democracy tree-vltp

An ALEC Sham – The International Task Force

by 2old2care


For a couple of entries coming up – I am going to be taking snips from an excellent piece of investigative journalism written by Bob Sloan, the Executive Director of the Voter Legislative Transparency Project (VLTP).

I’m going to do this in multiple entries – using snips – ’cause I am a “blogger” with ADD, with the attention span for research and writing of about that of a flea
(let’s jump around and do this – or this, no this, maybe this, or this …).


ALEC-New Partnerships and Exposing Hidden Foreign Influences

Before we consider what the impact of a joint Republican Study Committee/ ALEC/Heritage Foundationpartnership against federal controls would have upon the U.S., we should first look at current ALEC activities along these lines involving memberships held by foreign representatives. Together ALEC’s state lawmakers work hand in hand with several influential foreign elected officials to establish US state and foreign policies and pass laws suggested by those representing foreign powers…

“Together ALEC’s state lawmakers work hand in hand with several influential foreign elected officials”?

Are you kidding me – state legislators from ho-bunk towns in the United States making “international” resolutions.

You have got to be kidding me!

Like America is suppose to believe that ALEC state legislators have the experience in foreign affairs necessary to be working on an “international” task force.  Get real!!!
Most of them haven’t even been out of state – except to go to an ALEC meeting – for free – on a corporate ALEC scholarship.

For example, take Mary Kiffmeyer – from Minnesota – our ALEC State Chair who is on the International and Federal Relations Task Force.

The oldest of 14 children, Kiffmeyer was raised in Pierz, Minnesota.
The population was 1,393 at the 2010 census.[6]

Kiffmeyer lives near Big Lake, Minnesota.
Big Lake   …   population was 10,060 at the 2010 census.

Oh – yeah – this is someone I want interfering in foreign affairs on the ALEC International Relations Task Force.

These state bumpkins and their insistence in interfering with Foreign/ International Relations will probably set world governments and US foreign relations back 100 years.  God only knows what they are doing behind the closed doors of the secretive meetings of the ALEC International and Federal Relations Task Force.

God help us and the world!!!!!


Concerns about foreign money and influence finding their way into our electoral process because of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – are now bolstered by the discovery that foreign nations are already taking part in establishing U.S. policies related to voting and foreign matters – through ALEC.

And this paragraph is NOT a push, ALEC Resolution in Support of the Citizens United Decision

Summary:

This Resolution emphasizes the importance of first amendment protections of corporations’, non-profit advocacy groups’, and labor organizations’ speech. The resolution warns that mandatory disclosure and disclaimer requirements, particularly relating to an organization’s sour source of funding, can be intimidating to  such organizations and inhibit free speech.

Resolution

WHEREAS, the January 2010 Supreme Court decision in  Citizens United v. Federal  Election Commission  restored and affirmed the First Amendment rights of  corporations, labor organizations, and nonprofit advocacy groups to engage in  political speech in campaigns; and

SNIP

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED  that the American Legislative Exchange Council  (ALEC) opposes efforts that are outlined above at the federal, state, and local level  to undermine the Supreme Court’s decision in  Citizens United v. Federal Election  Commission  .

Adopted by the Public Safety and Elections Task Force at the Annual Meeting, August 7, 2010. Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors, September 19, 2010


“foreign nations are already taking part in establishing U.S. policies related to voting and foreign matters – through ALEC.”

One major difference which ALEC has attempted to bury deeply and not disclose is the involvement of foreign nationals holding elected offices in their governments who also hold full ALEC membership(s) – including the right to a vote [on ALEC “model legislation”].

These [foreign national] individuals help develop US policies, write ALEC resolutions and proposed model bills to be implemented in the United States – and internationally.  They [foreign nationals] cast votes alongside corporate reps and lobbyists and conservative state lawmakers on US state and federal model legislation, formulate resolutions sent out to the President, Congressional members and foreign governments.  These foreign officials then return to their government posts and lobby on behalf of the same initiatives they helped develop for the US – initiatives being lobbied for by ALEC to their [foreign national] governments using the same resolutions, models or policy demands.
foreign participation in developing US laws and policies

in relation to our state AND national government – BECAUSE –  the “ALEC International Task Force” is part of the ALEC “Federalism Task Force”

Which is part of ALEC’s “Federal Forum” program, which focuses on:

“Bringing state legislative leaders into contact with ALEC’s alumni  members in Congress is the cornerstone of the Federal Forum and  is instrumental in maintaining the principles of limited government,  individual liberty, and free markets. Through this relationship, ALEC hopes  to provide its 96 alumni members with information and testimonial support  from the states on pressing policy issues.”

foreign participation in developing US laws and policies –

At last count, ALEC documents list at least nine governments represented by seventeen publicly elected foreign officials sitting on ALEC’s International Relations task force – with full membership and voting rights.

And that’s where we will go next in this series

International Relations Task Force Co-Chairs (as of 11/2011)

Harold Brubaker (since replaced upon his retirement from the NC General Assembly by Tim Moffitt, also from North Carolina); and

Brandie Davis – Lobbyist for PMI Global (Philip Morris International)

16. Specific lobbying issues

World Trade Organization obligation issues.

Pending U.S. Trade Agreement Initiatives.

S 3240: Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012; proposed amendment relating to trade negotiations.

ALEC International Relations Task Force Co Chairs,
A state legislator and a lobbyist.
How fitting!!!!

 
AND

American Legislative Exchange Council International Relations Task Force [As of 6/30/2011]

Richard Ashworth
Member
Member European Parliament [MEP] 5 Hazelgrove Road
West Sussex RH16 3PH

Cory Bernardi
Member
Senator, Australian Senate
Level 13
100 King William Street
Adelaide, S.A. 5000

Adam Bielan
Member
MEP
UL CHODUIE WI CZA 2/7
Warsaw, Poland 02-593

Martin Callanan
Member
Member of the European Conservatives & Reformists Group
European Parliament
105 Kells Lane
Gateshead, UK NE95XY

Philip Claeys
Member
MEP
Kruiskruidlaan 11
Belgium 3090

Niranjan Deva
Member
MEP
Bat. Altiero Spinneli 14E130
60 Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstaat 60
Belgium B-1047

Christopher Fjellner
Member
MEP
14 Rue Wiertz
ASP 13E116
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Liam Fox
Member
Member British Parliament, House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
UNITED KINGDOM

Daniel Hannan
Member
MEP
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels 1047
BELGIUM

Chris Heaton-HarrisMember
MEP
1.40E+158
60 Rue Wiertz
Brux, Belgium B-1047

Roger Helmer
Member
MEP
ASP 14E 242
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Ayesha Javed
Member
Assemblywoman, Punjab Provincial Assembly
Provincial Assembly of the Punjab
The Mall Road
Lahore, Punjab 54000

Syed Kamall
Member
MEP
60 Rue Wiertz (14 E116)
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Michal Kaminski
Member
Chairman of the European Conservatives & Reformists Group
European Parliament
ASP BE130, European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Mirostaw Piotrowski
Member
MEP
UL Zaua 39
Lublin, PO Box 20-601
Poland

Ivo Strejcek
Member
MEP
Vintrnt 105212
Zdar Nad Sazavon
Czech Republic 59101

Konrad Szymanski
Member
MEP
Joliot-Curie
26 M.6
Warsaw, Poland 02-646

AND

Reem Badran
Member of Parliament from Jordan, and ALEC’s newest International Legislator Member. (Page 26 • Inside ALEC | October 2012)

Written by 2old2care

because I can logo
cropped-bannerformat1.jpg

 

Destroying Access to Local Democracy

Most of you will have no idea what I am writing about – because you are fortunate to have more than just basic cable, and were born after the advent of cable TV.

Many of you – might not know or care – but you should –  if you claim to care about the democratic process – or are a progressive, or a liberal, or just like to spout off something about caring for your fellow man when you’re drunk.

While taking my somewhat regular look at the ALECexposed webpage today to research some model legislation, I was reading about the intricate web of legislation woven in Wisconsin.

As very similar legislation  has already been passed into law here in NC it piqued my interest.  And let me tell you Wisconsinites something — you should really care about this one.

For those of you in the industry – please excuse my simplistic approach to this issue – this is the best I could surmise from my research.

HISTORY

rabbit ears antennaBack in the “good old days”, if people wanted to watch TV they had to have an antenna either on top of the TV, next to their house or on top of their house.

Back in the seventies – cable broadcasting came about in order to provide more TV service to more people.  Because the signal to an antenna was often interfered with by tall buildings or mountains,  cables were dug underground to improve reception and to bring it to areas beyond the limited reach of broadcast antennae.

The underground areas that the corporations wanted to use for installing these cables were generally located in cities across the United States.  This is referred to as the “right-of-way” where the electric, telephone, and gas lines (aka utilities considered necessary needed to live) were then located.

right of wayThis ”right-of-way” is PUBLIC land – owned by you and me.  Back in the old days, it was determined that cable TV was entertainment, a luxury – not really needed.  So if the private, for-profit cable companies wanted to run their cables in the PUBLIC right-of-way – the cable companies would need to pay a franchise fee (aka rent payment) to the cities to use that space located underground land that belongs to the PUBLIC.

Public Access TVpublic access tv

As part of those franchise agreements allowing private for-profit cable companies to use the PUBLIC right-of-way, was the establishment of PEG programs.  PEG stands for Public, Educational and Government programming.  This is your local public access TV station.

Public – This means that the public access station is available to most any person to use their first amendment rights to do a TV show.  In my area  – every one of these shows is a local citizen spouting right wing babble.  Although in many parts of the country there are many interesting shows focusing on local and national issues, including ethnic groups, youth, seniors, the LGBT… community programming.

Educational – This is available to the schools to broadcast school board meetings, high school sports programs, high school graduations, band concerts, grade school programs, etc. on the public access TV station.

Government – This is available to government to broadcast city and county board meetings, planning meetings, utility board meetings and a host of other meetings that are suppose to be “open meetings”.

vocational programming on public access tvAnd let’s not forget job creation.  Many Public Access TV stations broadcast programming that provides valuable training  to local teens and adults which can help them to learn employable skills.

But don’t believe for a split second that the funding for this was given to the cities out of the cable companies’ goodwill.  The negotiation of franchise renewals continues to be a bitter and horrendous process – a Private v. Public “death-match” every time.

Meanwhile,  the well financed private corporations are effectively acting as a cartel–carving up the country between themselves so that they do not have to have any costly competition with each other…essentially monopolies in their own marketing areas.

In these franchise renewal negotiations the arrogance of the Private cable companies is on display as the use of YOUR Public right-of-way is a bone of contention.  These corporations want to be able to use the right-of-way for Corporations are not Peoplefree–this is just taken for granted.  Apparently this fits well with their corporate personhood,  No restrictions on their profits are acceptable.  Regulations to ensure that Public Access TV remains Public are anathema.  In the pursuit of ever greater revenues – these corporations demonstrate nothing but absolute disdain for the Public services that are part and parcel of Public Access TV.

And that is where the association with ALEC comes in along with cable-company-specific ALEC “model” legislation comes in.

Many Public Access stations across the United States are losing their funding from the cable companies because of ALEC legislation.  The aim of this ALEC legislation is take the franchise negotiations away from the city level and put the negotiations at the state level – where ALEC’s Corporate Member cable companies negotiate with ALEC Legislative Members in the state legislatures.
ALECexposed

Quoting very liberally from ALECexposed, here is an interesting timetable for you to consider:

First, in Wisconsin,, there was the The Broadband Deployment Act of 2003, which freed the telecom industry from oversight.  Check out the resemblance to ALEC’s Broadband and Telecommunications Deployment Act

Then came  a Municipal Broadband bill from 2004, which blocked municipalities from competing with corporate providers of broadband services.  A remarkable resemblance to ALEC’s Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act

And a 2007 Telephone Deregulation Bill, ending public oversight and regulations in Wisconsin for telephone services, looks like the ALEC Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007

And the Video Competition Act, eliminating municipal cable franchises and freeing companies from their previously-negotiated contracts.  Considering that it looks like the ALEC Cable and Video Competition Act, there certainly appears to be a strategy at work for the possible takeover (perhaps privatization?) of Wisconsin’s Public Access TV,


Do Not Forget
The services that are provided by Public Access TV to the public include:

Public – which gives people the chance to voice their first amendment rights to a larger audience.

Educational – which gives people the opportunity to see events that they cannot physically or financially attend.

Government – which gives the public access to their government.  Even when they are working 10 – 12 hour days – the public can watch the government meetings on TV and know what is happening in their community and comment to their city / county representatives.  They can see for themselves just who their elected representatives are indeed representing,  Transparency in government.

Many of you may not watch public access TV – but many people do.

Just because some don’t watch it – does not mean that public access TV should not be available.

As I stated earlier – franchise negotiations appear to be fierce – with the cable companies wielding their well-paid lawyers against public servants.  Many towns don’t have the expertise or the money to pay for the legal expertise to properly negotiate with the legions of highly paid cable lawyers.  And thus many cities across the United States are losing most funding for public access TV or all funding for public access TV.

Think about it – just for a moment. There is something horribly wrong with this ALEC, legislators, corporationsscenario.  ALEC Corporate private sector members come into the state legislature and negotiate cable franchise agreements (for the cities) with ALEC state legislators.  If this piece of ALEC “model” legislation has not already been implemented in your state (and it has been in some) – it will be introduced by an ALEC state legislator sooner than later.

When the public no longer has access to their local government (as provided by public access TV), democracy at the most local level is diminished and that is what ALEC’s pro-cable company “model” legislation and your state ALEC legislator are doing – reducing access to democracy  to increase profits / revenues for some very large corporations.

If you check the corporations listed at ALECExposed – you will find your cable provider.  They attend ALEC meetings to promote legislation that increases cable corporate revenues / profits – with total disregard for the needs of the public.

 

 

Michigan Judicial Races Draw $14 Million in Dark Money

going, going, goneRich Robinson, of the watchdog group Michigan Campaign Finance Network, is reporting that in the 2012 election, Michigan judicial races were by and large bought and paid for by shadowy third party issue ads. Robinson finds that “Just 25% of $18.6M spent was reported to the State”. That’s $14 million in dark money. His concern is that, not only are these judicial seats for sale, but we don’t know who’s buying them, and therefore won’t be able to detect bias or need for recusal.

While the bulk of the money was spent on the Supreme Court contest, this time around a fight for the 6th Circuit Court, where in addition to the $725,000 reported by the candidates, $2 million was spent by Washington D.C. players.

As reported last year in Democracy Tree, Supreme Court contests produce more issue ads than other political races in Michigan because judicial candidates are bound to an entirely different set of rules which hobble their ability to personally sling the mud, so they count on third parties to do all their dirty work.  These races have a history of being a hotbed for outright absurdities and improprieties in campaign issue ads.

Incumbent or not, a Supreme Court candidate is bound by specific campaign rules found in the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct. In that code we find Canon 7 B (1) (d) – which states:

“A candidate, including an incumbent judge, for judicial office:  should not knowingly, or with reckless disregard, use or participate in the use of any form of public communication that is false.”

This is significant — all other political candidates are surprisingly not generally bound to be truthful in advertising, although television and radio stations are legally responsible for the veracity  of all issue ads, they exercise no control over candidate ad content.

Judicial candidates are not permitted to personally lie, so someone else must do it for them.

Michigan Supremes are first nominated by their respective parties, but thereafter pretend to be completely nonpartisan, as required by law. It’s a sham that grows more and more comical with each election cycle.  Michigan high court races rank 6th in the nation in campiagn expenditures, and that’s before the Citizens United ruling.  The numbers get worse — Michigan ranks 3rd in Supreme Court race television ad spending, again, before corporate personhood.

These races are getting uglier by the year.  In 2008, Chief Justice Taylor (R) was defeated thanks to a 3rd party issue ad campaign waged by Michigan Democrats. Taylor was a member of the notorious “Engler-4”, a conservative majority that had an abominable voting record, so there was plenty of damning, yet truthful, material for them to draw from. But the Dems ignored that. Instead they ran a T.V. spot depicting him as sleeping at the bench. But the ad actually showed an actor sleeping, leaving the viewer to believe it was Taylor himself.  The ad did its job, Taylor was defeated in large part due to the memorable moniker it created in voter’s minds: “Sleeping Judge Taylor.” This ad was not only misleading, but it didn’t even address a real “issue”.

Issue ads and candidate ads are nearly impossible to differentiate if not for the “paid for” requirement. The U.S. Supreme Court attempted to define their individual properties in a 1976 ruling, Buckley v. Valeo. The opinion said that issue ads are not permitted to urge viewers to vote a particular way with language such as “vote for” or “vote against”, whereas candidate ads could use those phrases. Perhaps those rules made sense 36 years ago, but honestly, we rarely hear simplistic content like that in our current television fare.

The only real difference between issue and candidate ads is what we don’t know about who is behind the organizations running those issue ads. Specifically, who’s money is buying the ads. Voter ignorance of this is no indication that the beneficiary candidate is unaware of who their corporate sugar-daddies are. In fact, it would be naive to think they don’t know.

With 63% of Michigan voters believing that campaign money influences judicial decision making, it seems voters are not naive after all. The National Institute on Money in State Politics reports in The New Politics of Judicial Elections in the Great Lakes States, that 86% of cases before the Michigan Supreme Court can you CONTRIBUTE anything to help your caseinvolved one or more campaign contributors to one or more of the justices. And, that’s just the money we know about because it’s been properly reported under the rules set forth in the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. However, the overwhelming bulk of the money is spent by shadowy third-parties on issue ads, of whom we know virtually nothing.

Michigan’s high court judges are for sale and the voters don’t know who’s buying them. Sure, one can venture a guess based on their judicial record. But they’re certainly not going to tell who’s pulling their strings, in fact they mustn’t tell, because of Canon 7 B (1) (d) — It’s Code for keeping it a secret.

There is something we can do to make a real difference in 2014. Since T.V. stations are legally liable for the veracity of issue ads, we can tell them to shape-up by going to Flack Check – Michigan, a site that tracks and posts dubious issue ads by market area, and provides links to easily register complaints with the broadcasting station. How will this make a difference? If viewer complaints convince just one major carrier to reject the content of an issue ad, it will have a cascade effect starting with the third-party producer who will be forced to change that ad, and will likely run the replacement across all markets. Just a few victories, here and there, will serve as a warning to both the producers and the broadcasters  — that the public is watching them.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

democracy tree logo

Montana Bill Would Give Corporations The Right To Vote

Montana State Rep. Steve Lavin (R-ALEC)A bill introduced by Montana State Rep. Steve Lavin (R-ALEC) would give corporations the right to vote in municipal elections:

Provision for vote by corporate property owner. (1) Subject to subsection (2), if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote in a municipal election as provided in [section 1].

(2) The individual who is designated to vote by the entity is subject to the provisions of [section 1] and shall also provide to the election administrator documentation of the entity’s registration with the secretary of state under 35-1-217 and proof of the individual’s designation to vote on behalf of the entity.

The idea that “corporations are people, my friend” as Mitt Romney put it, is sadly common among conservative lawmakers. Most significantly of all, the five conservative justices voted in Citizens United v. FEC to permit corporations to spend unlimited money to influence elections. Actually giving corporations the right to vote, however, is quite a step beyond what even this Supreme Court has embraced.

The bill does contain some limits on these new corporate voting rights. Most significantly, corporations would not be entitled to vote in “school elections,” and the bill only applies to municipal elections. So state and federal elections would remain beyond the reach of the new corporate voters.

In fairness to Lavin’s fellow lawmakers, this bill was tabled shortly after it came before a legislative committee, so it is unlikely to become law. A phone call to Lavin was not returned as of this writing.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Lavin was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) now defunct Public Safety and Elections Task Force. Last year, pressure from progressive groups forced ALEC to disband this task force, which, among other things, pushed voter suppression laws.

we refuse to accept that corporations are people

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article is written by Ian Millhiser, and is posted at Think Progress at http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/02/22/1628631/montana-bill-would-give-corporations-the-right-to-vote/?mobile=nc
TP-justice

Institutional Investors Continue To Press Companies For Disclosure Of Lobbying

Shareholder resolutions filed with more than 50 companies by  more than 65 institutional and individual investors for 2013

BOSTON, Ma. – Investors today announced the filing of shareholder resolutions at more than 50 corporations as part of a 2013 proxy season initiative asking companies to annually report their federal and state lobbying, including any payments to trade associations used for lobbying as well as support for tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation.

The resolution filers believe that shareholders need better, more complete disclosure of how companies in which they invest use resources to affect both elections and legislation. The lobbying disclosure initiative is a natural extension of ongoing shareholder efforts for greater corporate political spending transparency and accountability. Specifically, enhanced lobbying disclosure will enable shareholders to better evaluate whether a company’s lobbying expenditures and actions advance the company’s interests and do not present risks to company value.

A recent report by the U.S. SIF Foundation found that disclosure of lobbying and political spending has emerged as the “greatest single concern of shareholders among environmental and social issues,” with more than 100 resolutions being filed annually on the subject in 2011 and 2012. (1)

Reflecting investors’ interest in enhanced disclosure, the S.E.C. announced on Dec. 21, 2012, that it is considering a rule to require public companies to disclose their spending on politics and lobbying.

While the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and the unprecedented amount of political spending in the 2012 elections have attracted a great deal of media attention, company expenditures on federal lobbying far exceed political election contributions by approximately a nine-to-one ratio. A 2011 study by Si2, funded by the IRRC Institute, found that in 2010, S&P 500 companies spent a total of $1.1 billion on political contributions and lobbying, of which $979.3 million was spent on federal lobbying (2).  These figures do not include state level lobbying  expenditures by companies, where there is incomplete disclosure and yearly spending exceeds $1 billion.

Moreover, lobbying by trade associations is indirectly supported by corporate contributions that are substantial and largely unreported. For example the Chamber of Commerce spent more than $500 million on lobbying since 2009, making it the country’s largest lobbying spender. The majority of companies do not disclose the portions of their trade association payments used for lobbying. These payments can create reputational risks for companies. Lobbying disclosure proponents believe companies need to manage these risks by assessing whether their memberships in trade associations accurately represent their corporate interests and policy positions, and that shareholders need to understand their companies’ expenditures for trade association lobbying and the risks they might represent.

The resolutions therefore also ask companies to disclose support for and membership in tax exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, which includes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC approved model legislation based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law that gained national attention after the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin. In response to investor and grassroots pressure, 42 companies, including Amgen, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Walgreens and Yum! Brands, evaluated the risk to their corporate reputations, compared to the benefits, of continuing membership, and made the decision to leave ALEC. (2)

Thomas DiNapoli, comptroller of the state of New York and an active proponent of corporate disclosure of both political spending and lobbying, stated, “As a fiduciary, it’s important that companies in which the New York State Common Retirement Fund invest are open, transparent and demonstrate high standards of governance.” Mr. DiNapoli’s office oversees the $133.8 billion state fund. “Thus we have joined once again in 2013 filing resolutions urging companies to report to their investors about their lobbying priorities, oversight and corporate dollars spent.”

Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME and chair of the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan’s Pension Committee, stated, “These proposals are based on the simple principle that what gets disclosed gets managed. Corporate payments for lobbying are a use of shareholder assets. Disclosure will help ensure these expenditures are in the company and shareholders’ best interest.”

Timothy Smith, director of environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareowner engagement at Walden Asset Management and one of the coordinators of this initiative, stated, “Over the last six years, investors increasingly have urged companies to disclose their spending aimed at influencing elections. This year investors have once again taken a logical next step and asked companies to disclose their direct and indirect lobbying activities. Whether the issue is environmental impact, consumer protection, financial reform or shareholder rights, it is important for investors to understand how company dollars are spent to influence our laws and regulations by lobbying activities. While many companies have modest government affairs budgets, others spend tens of millions of dollars annually on lobbying directly and through trade associations. In addition, many companies work through lobbying organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to influence legislation and regulation at the state level. We believe it is timely and appropriate for companies to be much more transparent.”

More than 60 investors joined in filing and co-filing the resolution seeking comprehensive disclosure of corporate lobbying, among them are the AFL-CIO; the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan; Benedictine Sisters of Virginia; Boston Common Asset Management; Christopher Reynolds Foundation; CtW Investment Group; Dignity Health; First Affirmative Financial Network; Green Century Funds; Mercy Investments; Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Nathan Cummings; Needmor Fund; New York State Common Retirement Fund; Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order; Responsible Endowments Coalition; Sisters of St. Francis; Trillium Asset Management; UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust; Unitarian Universalist Association; United Steelworkers and Walden Asset Management. This unique investor network is organized by the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan and Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust & Investment Management Company.

Specifically, the resolution asks for disclosure of:

1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, including that done on our company’s behalf by trade associations.

2. Payments used for lobbying as well as grassroots lobbying communications.

3. Membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.

4. Decision-making processes and oversight by management and the Board.

 

AMONG companies receiving lobbying disclosure resolutions for 2013 are:

3M (MMM)

Abbott Laboratories (ABT)

Accenture (ACN)

Allergan (AGN)

Alliance One International (AOI)

Alliant Techsystems (ATK)

Allstate (ALL)

Altria Group (MO)

American Electric Power (AEP)

AT&T (T)

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)

Chevron (CVX)

Cigna (CI)

Citigroup -C-

ConocoPhillips (COP)

Corrections Corporation of America (CXW)

CVS Caremark (CVS)

DaVita (DAV)

Devon Energy (DVN)

Dupont (DD)

EBay Inc. (EBAY)

Endo Health Solutions (ENDP)

Entergy (ETR)

Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS)

ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM)

General Dynamics (GD)

GEO Group (GEO)

Goldman Sachs (GS)

IBM (IBM)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM)

Lockheed Martin (LMT)

Lorillard (LO)

Marathon Oil (MRO)

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC)

Northrop Grumman (NOC)

Nucor Corporation (NUE)

Peabody Energy (BTU)

PepsiCo (PEP)

Pfizer (PFE)

Philip Morris (PM)

Reynolds American (RAI)

SLM Corporation (Sallie Mae) (SLM)

Time Warner Cable (TWC)

Union Pacific (UNP)

United Parcel Service (UPS)

United Health Group (UNH)

Universal Corporation (UVV)

Verizon Communications (VZ)

VISA U.S.A. (V)

Walgreen (WAG)

Wells Fargo (WFC)

WellPoint (WLP)

Xcel Energy (XEL)

 

Filers of Lobbying Disclosure Resolutions 


Pension Funds

New York State Common Retirement Fund

 

Labor

AFSCME Employees Pension Plan

AFL-CIO

CTW Investment Group

Service Employees International Union

UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust

United Steelworkers

 

Asset Management Companies

Boston Common Asset Management

First Affirmative Financial Network

Green Century Funds

Jantz Morgan

PAX World Fund

Sustainability Group, Loring Wolcott & Coolidge

Trillium Asset Management

Walden Asset Management

Zevin Asset Management

 

Foundations

Brainerd Foundation

Center for Community Change, Washington, DC

Edward W. Hazen Foundation

The Funding Exchange

Haymarket Foundation

Lemmon Foundation

LKMC Aquinas Funds

Max and Anna Levinson Foundation

Merck Family Fund

Nathan Cummings Foundation

Needmor Fund

Oneida Tribe of Indians Trust Fund

Oxfam America

Responsible Endowments Coalition

Christopher Reynolds Foundation

Russell Family Foundation

Swift Family Foundation

Tides Foundation

 

Non-Profit Institutional Investors

Manhattan Country School

 

Religious Filers

Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore

Benedictine Sisters of Virginia

Catholic Health East

Catholic Health Initiatives

Community Church of New York

Congregation of Benedictine Sisters,

Boerne, Texas

Congregation of Divine Providence, San

Antonio, Texas

Congregation of St. Joseph of Carondelet,
St. Paul Province

Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes

Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of
Brighton

Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy
Cross, Indiana

Convent Academy of the Incarnate Word

Dignity Health

First Parish Unitarian Church, Cambridge, Ma.

Glenmary Home Missioners

Marianist Province of the United States

Mercy Investment Services

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

Monasterio Pan Vida

Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order

School Sisters of Notre Dame

Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey

Sisters of the Holy Family

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Boston

Sisters of Notre Dame

Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph

Providence

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Sisters of St. Francis, Academy of Our Lady
of Lourdes, Rochester

Trinity Health

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

United Church Foundation

 

Individuals

Daniel Altschuler

Gwendolen Noyes

Gun Denhart

Carol Master

____________________________________________________________

ConocoPhillips Lobbying Disclosure

Whereas, we rely on the information provided by our company to evaluate goals and objectives, and therefore have strong interest in full disclosure of our company’s lobbying to assess whether it is in the best interests of shareholders and long-term stockholder value.

Resolved, the shareholders of ConocoPhillips request the Board authorize the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:

1.  Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.

2. Payments by ConocoPhillips used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.

3. ConocoPhillips’ membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.

4. Description of the decision making process and oversight by management and the Board for making payments described in section 2 above.

 

For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation or regulation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation or regulation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation or regulation.

“Indirect lobbying” is lobbying engaged in by a trade association or other organization of which ConocoPhillips is a member.

Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.

The report shall be presented to the Audit Committee or other relevant oversight committees of the Board and posted on the company’s website.

 

Supporting Statement

As shareholders, we encourage transparency and accountability in the use of staff time and corporate funds to influence legislation and regulation both directly and indirectly.

This resolution received 25 percent voting support in 2011.

ConocoPhillips sits on the Board of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is noted as “by far the most muscular business lobby group in Washington” (“Chamber of Secrets,” Economist, April 21, 2012). In 2010 and 2011 the Chamber spent $198 million on lobbying. Yet ConocoPhillips does not disclose its trade association payments nor the portions used for lobbying on its website.

ConocoPhillips spent approximately $40.2 million in 2010 and 2011 on direct federal lobbying activities, according to disclosure reports (Senate Records). These figures may not include grassroots lobbying to directly influence legislation by mobilizing public support or opposition and do not include lobbying expenditures to influence legislation or regulation in states that do not require disclosure.

Also, ConocoPhillips does not disclose its contributions to tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as a $10,000 contribution to the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) annual meeting.

According to the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 26, 2012) the oil industry, including ConocoPhillips, spent “tens of millions of dollars” related to the 2012 election to galvanize employees to support their industry’s agenda and elect sympathetic candidates. We also believe the costs of these programs should also be fully disclosed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FOOTNOTES:

(1)  “Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States 2012,” US SIF Foundation.

(2).  Heidi Welsh and Robin Young, “Corporate Governance of Political Expenditures: 2011 Benchmark Report on S&P 500 Companies,” Sustainable Investments Institute & IRRC Institute, November 2011 www.irrcinstitute.org)

 

Originally posted at http://www.waldenassetmgmt.com/social/action/Lobbying_PR_212013.pdf
For Release: February 1, 2013

Contact: Timothy Smith, Walden Asset Management, (617) 726-7155,     tsmith@bostontrust.com

Cheryl Kelly, AFSCME, (202) 429-1145, ckelly@afscme.org

What’s Worse than Citizens United?

Question: What could be worse than Citizens United?

Answer: Possibly…United States v. Danielczyk and Biagi

Some may recall that two of Hillary Clinton’s fundraisers, William Danielczyk and Eugene Biagi were indicted for some serious campaign finance violations. They had reimbursed individual campaign contributors with funds from corporate sources. An act that is not ostensibly protected as “speech” under Citizens United because the funds were direct campaign contributions to a candidate. Citizens United only paved the way for PAC funds and issue ads — indirect corporate spending.

Intitially, a U. S. District Court dismissed the charges, citing Citizens United, but early last summer the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the charges claiming that direct corporate-to-candidate expenditures are not allowed under Citizens United.

Last November, Danielcyzk and Biagi filed with the  U. S. Supreme Court a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, which is Latin for a legal mulligan — a do over. They essentially asked the high court to review the case and reverse the COA ruling.

In late January, the Department of Justice chimed in with an amicus brief to SCOTUS arguing that the court should not take the bait. The court will decide in a few weeks whether or not to hear the case.

Okay, so what does all this mean and what might occur?

SCOTUS may possibly remand the case back to the District Court where it would be heard (which is not to say either party couldn’t petition the high court again.) On the other hand, it could find itself on the high court docket — a political hot potato, even for those appointed for life. Chief Justice Roberts amazed everyone (and probably himself) when he exercised forbearance in last year’s Obamacare ruling. Judicial scholars speculated that he was focused on legacy over partisan politics when he found a loophole where counsel failed to do so. He is cognizant that those same judicial scholars lined-up after the Citizens United ruling to defame it as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history…those being the same scholars that will document history, and his tenure on the court. Oh, books will be written!

Worst case scenario: the high court upholds the original district court dismissal — how would that further corrupt the campaign landscape?

The DOJ amicus brief makes the case that wealthy contributors could incorporate multiple times enabling them to skirt laws that limit individual campaign contributions. Additionally, they would be able to hide their identities and motives behind those dummy corporations.

Another potential problem is that once those millions are directly deposited in a candidate’s coffers the money would have even fewer restrictions attached to it. Media outlets, primarily television, are required by law to fact-check issue ads and pull them if they are scurrilous (although they rarely do, it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen…). But, candidate ads are wide open to making wildly false accusations, with no liability attached to the media outlet. Also, candidates are given a special price, the political rate, which affords them considerably more buying power than issue ads and PAC money. Presidential candidates are additionally rewarded with priority airtime and they may bump downticket races right off the airways. The big dollars would rule supreme.

It would be Citizens United — on steriods.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree
democracy tree logo

 

Companies Challenged over Membership in ALEC and Heartland Institute

Walden Asset Management spearheads a letter-writing campaign by shareowners urging corporations to review their memberships in the controversial organizations.

Tim Smith of Walden Management was instrumental in getting Bank of America to quit ALEC.

SocialFunds.com — Following the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January, 2010, the years-long campaign by investors to pressure corporations to disclose their direct political contributions was expanded to include payments to activist trade associations like the US Chamber of Commerce. Sustainable investors and other governance advocates recognized that inconsistencies between a company’s stated position on sustainability issues and the lobbying activities of trade associations left it exposed to reputational and business risks.

Following a number of highly publicized incidents, investor concerns have now widened to include corporate membership in partisan More →

Money OUT, Voters IN: Find an Event Near You!

Money OUT, Voters IN: Find an Event Near You!

by Lisa Graves — January 10, 2013

MLK at the signing of the Voting Rights ActRev. Martin Luther King at the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

Last year, Americans witnessed an explosion in million-dollar checks from a handful of uber-wealthy people underwriting political campaigns and election ads. In 2012, there were also numerous efforts to make it harder for Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote through restrictive voter ID legislation and limits on voter registration.

That is why the weekend of January 19, 2013, is so important. That coming weekend marks two dates significant to American democracy. It includes the federal holiday marking the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., which commemorates the civil rights leader who worked to secure voting rights for all Americans. It also marks the anniversary of the devastating U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates for big money and helped make the 2012 elections the most expensive in the history of the world.

On January 19, activists in more than 60 towns and cities across the country will participate in a national day of action through rallies, teach-ins, and conferences to move closer to taking back our democracy.

Get involved!

Join CMD and our allies at the website www.MoneyOut-VotersIn.org to find an event near you. If no event is happening, sign up to create one — check out the Resources page for a sample press release and sample flyer you can edit for your event, as well as media and planning guides.

Between the flood of money from corporations and super-rich individuals, and new state laws designed to keep people out of the voting booth, the American people are sick of a privileged few trying to drown out the voices of the many.

Learn what actions you can take to amplify your voice and take advantage of this historic moment.

Let’s make the third anniversary of Citizens United a moment to remember and one that our representatives can’t ignore.

Center for Media and Democracy • 520 University Avenue, Suite 260 • Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: 608-260-9713 • Fax: 608-260-9714