“Money and Democracy Update” is Public Citizen’s weekly e-newsletter about the intersection of money and politics. It is part of our
ongoing campaign to track the results of — and ultimately overturn — the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,
which allows for-profit corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or attack political candidates. We’ll
update you regularly with select news stories and blog posts, legislative developments and ways to get involved.
Stunning Statistics of the Week:
- $750 million: The amount President Barack
Obama raised and spent in the 2008 campaign
- $1 billion: The estimated amount his campaign will cost in 2012
Big bucks in the race for Oklahoma City Council
Oklahoma City Council members make just $12,000 a year, but apparently they are powerful enough to attract
big bucks to their campaigns. Candidates and groups running independent campaigns to support candidates have raised $1.2 million and spent $1 million of that – an unprecedented amount, the Oklahoman reports. Two groups alone account for $545,000 of that. Although
they are required to identify their donors, they merely list a nonprofit group as a donor, leaving the public in the dark
as to who is really funneling money into the races.
Citizens United affects
even local races, like this one in Alaska
An independent group
is diving into the race for Anchorage’s Assembly, which is its city council. The new group, which is getting its money
from developers and commercial real estate owners, is running ads designed to oust three progressive incumbents. Such independent spending would not have been possible for the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 ruling in Citizens
United v. Federal Election Commission, an Alaska official told the Anchorage Daily News. That ruling gave corporations
the green light to spend unlimited amounts of money to sway elections.
Tens of millions
being raised for redistricting fights
Top Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are raising millions of unregulated money from hidden sources for redistricting fights, Politico reports. The lawmakers could raise upwards of $30 million. The Federal Election Commission
has given its blessing; it voted last year to allow lawmakers to raise money for an organization called the National Democratic
Redistricting Trust. It is anticipated
that much of the money will go toward legal costs.
Two former White
House aides mull creation of independent political group
Remember how in 2008
candidate Barack Obama decried special interests raising money for independent campaign efforts? How times have changed. It appears as though two former White House aides are going to launch an independent political group to help Obama and
combat the flood of independent group spending on the GOP side.
Top 10 things every
voter should know about money in politics
Our friends at the Center for Responsive Politics have put together the top
10 things every voter should know about money in politics. Number 8: Enforcement of campaign laws is weak. No. 7: The fundraising
never stops. No. 2: Incumbents nearly always win. No. 1? Click here to find out.
U.S. Supreme Court hears challenge to Arizona clean elections law
Supreme Court justices this week heard arguments in a case challenging part of Arizona’s clean elections law.
For proponents of the law, things didn’t go so well.
With higher dues, realtors may get say in political spending
The National Association of Realtors in May will ask its members if they support a dues increase to pay
for political efforts to press for things like preserving the mortgage interest deduction. So far, the group has funded
its political work by voluntary contributions. But since the Citizens United decision, the goalposts have changed, the groups said. The International Business Times summarized the group’s position: “[I]n the new political
financing environment, it is both unrealistic and unnecessary to expect voluntary contributions to increase to the extent
needed for realtors to maintain their influence.” If approved, dues would be raised from $80 to $120.
Romney giving lots of money to the Republican Party
Potential presidential contender Mitt Romney is currying favor with the Republican Party by sending money. Romney has sent $25,000 to New Jersey’s Republican Party, $5,000 each
to the Wisconsin and Massachusetts state parties and $6,000 to New Hampshire’s state party. Oh, and he also has given
more than $300,000 to Republicans in Congress.
DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more!