federal election commission

The Anniversary of Citizens United

  • Posted on: 10 January 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

January 21st marks the two year anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, the landmark Supreme Court case that removed limits on election spending by corporations and other moneyed interests, overthrowing 100 years of election laws. 

( For more background on CU v FEC, read this blog and watch the video from the Story of Stuff.)

The Citizens United case has already begun affecting elections.  Spending on political television ads funded by anonymous donors is already five times what it was during the entire Republican primary season four years ago, according to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG.

An example of the kind of propaganda corporate polluters are flooding the airwaves with - thanks to Citizens United – is the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) new election cycle ad campaign, released last week.

The new advertising campaign is an attempt to hoodwink Americans into supporting Big Oil’s political agenda by faking grassroots support for the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking, and offshore arctic drilling. Now that the Supreme Court has decided API can use Big Oil’s millions to influence elections, API, the Chamber of Commerce, and other industry fronts can relentlessly attack candidates that don't support the fossil fuel industry’s political agenda.

Greenpeace caught API in the act of creating this Astroturf campaign, when activists responded to a leaked casting email that invited “real people not actors” to share their views on energy.  When the activists showed up to the shoot, API tried to use them as puppets, feeding them lines and strictly controlling what people could say on camera.  

Greenpeace created a parody commercial and website called "vote 4 energy" to point out API’s manipulations, but without millions of dollars of oil and gas money for ad buys, API’s lies will likely reach many more people.
 
Therein lies the fundamental injustice of the Citizens United decision, it increases the power of the richest sectors of society, allowing those with the most money to have the biggest voice in elections.  Because of Citizens United, Groups like API now wield advertising dollars like a cudgel, threatening politicians with unrelenting attack ads if politicians dare to deviate from corporate approved policies.  API’s president Jack Gerard admitted this strategy when he unveiled his ad campaign, promising “Huge political consequences” if President Obama does not approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

 

It is up to the people of America to beat back this corporate takeover of our government.  As the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision approaches, a growing and diverse movement has been building to pursue the only remedy that can overcome the entrenched Supreme Court majority’s distortion of the First Amendment: amending the Constitution to reverse Citizens United and broadly ensure free and fair elections, uncorrupted by excessive corporate influence.                                                                               

We need to tell corporate manipulators this is not over.  Demand your right to democracy for the people and by the people by joining one of the many actions taking place to mark the anniversary of Citizens United, starting January 19.  The People for the American Way have set up a website that can connect you to an event in your area.  There are hundreds of events across the nation so get involved!!  

 

Those interested in how pro-corporate forces have plotted to hijack democracy for more than three decades, check out the report on the Powell Memorandum, a blueprint for corporate takeover of democracy written by former Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell.

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Rand Paul wants to arrest the Koch brothers?

  • Posted on: 27 September 2011
  • By: Connor Gibson

In a recent interview posted by ThinkProgress, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) briefly departed from his defense of corporate polluters (who heavily financed his 2010 election campaign) and claimed, "If you dump benzene in the stream, I want you to go to jail."

ThinkProgress was quick to point out the irony that one of Paul's many dirty campaign contributors, Koch Industries, was caught by the Department of Justice in 2000 after illegally releasing at least 91 metric tons of uncontrolled benzene into its liquid waste stream, and later plead guilty to falsifying documents in an effort to cover up the incident. For more, see the Justice Department's 2001 press release: "Koch Pleads Guilty to Covering Up Environmental Violations at Texas Oil Refinery." Greenpeace also has more information about Koch Industries' environmental record and how the company has avoided responsibility for preventing chemical disasters at its facilities.

Federal Election Commission data shows that Charles Koch and wife Elizabeth, David Koch and wife Julia, and Chase Koch (Charles Koch's son and Koch executive) and wife Anna each contributed the maximum $2,400 to Rand Paul's 2010 campaign for a total donation of $14,400...plus another $5,000 from Koch Industries. Koch Industries as a company spent over $7 million to influence the 2010 election cycle (see page 18 of Koch Industries: Still Fueling Climate Denial).

Forbes' newly updated "Richest Americans" list shows that Charles and David Koch have jumped up the rich list to tie as the fourth richest American, each worth an estimated $25 billion. Demonstrating the continuing consolidation of wealth at the top, Rachel Maddow reports that as Charles and David Koch increased their net wealth by $16 billion, Koch Industries cut 13,000 jobs.

For ongoing research about the dirty deeds of the billionaire Koch brothers, check out Greenpeace's hub page on Koch Industries and climate denial.

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