Barry Goldwater (R-AZ)

Many people look on successful candidates as being bought and paid for by whomever gave the most money.

To make representative government work the way the framers designed it, elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people,

not to the wealth of groups who speak only for selfish fringes of the whole community.


The public does not have any doubt about the power of money.

Every poll taken shows that the vast majority of Americans believe campaign spending is a very serious problem and that those who contribute large sums of money have too much influence over the government.

Our nation is facing a crisis of liberty if we do not control campaign expenditures.

We must prove that elective office is not for sale.

We must convince the public that elected officials are what James Madison intended us to be, agents of the sovereign people, not the hired hands of rich givers.



A Conservative Voice for Reform from Battles Past

Needham’s U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch (MA-09)

I support a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.

Corporations are state-created entities that are immortal —
they live forever

—granting them rights due to citizens greatly diminishes the rights of ordinary citizens [flesh and blood persons].

It was wrong-headed. I think it was probably

the worst decision  of the Supreme Court in my lifetime.”

–U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch (Oct. 24, 2011, at Needham Public Library)

(Congressman Lynch is Needham’s Representative in US House of Representatives)

Broadcasters Betray Trust With Citizens United

Guardians of the public interest over the public airwaves are perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of the post-Citizens United trash heap of vicious ads that will be the biggest phenomenon of the 2012 elections.

And now we are discovering daily that broadcasters are among the biggest enemies of transparency that would at least shed light on who is funding the ads.

read more at Roll Call

Patch: Board of Selectman Votes 3-2 to Support Citizens United Warrant Article at Town Meeting

Needham Town Meeting will have the chance in May to share its views on the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision…

Selectmen voted 3-2 in favor of supporting the article on the May 7 Annual Town Meeting warrant, with selectmen Dan Matthews and Matt Borrelli on the opposing side.

The article, which was placed on the warrant by a citizen’s petition, calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would essentially reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling by clarifying that the First Amendment is not meant to protect the freedom of speech of for-profit corporations.

Continue reading Needham Board of Selectmen votes to support challenge to Supreme Court Decision

The Needham Board of Selectmen voted three to two on Tuesday night in favor of supporting a warrant article that calls for a challenge to the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling opening up unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.

The decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, led to the growth of Super Political Action Committees, which have poured vast amounts of money into the presidential campaign this year.

After a brief debate over whether a warrant article with national implications was appropriate for a local town meeting, chair Jerry Wasserman, and selectmen Moe Handel and John Builian voted in favor of supporting the Citizens United article. Selectmen Daniel Matthews and Matthew Borrelli voted against it.

“We can have an influence here on an important issue that affects all of us very personally,” said Wasserman. Continue reading

Bipartisan Consensus: Unlimited $ Leads to Corruption

New Poll: Super PAC Spending Has Produced Widespread Perceptions of Corruption

By significant margins, Americans believe new rules allowing individuals, corporations, and unions to donate unlimited amounts to SuperPACs will lead to corruption.

These beliefs are held equally by both Republicans & Democrats.

  • 69% agreed that “new rules that let corporations, unions and people give unlimited money to Super PACs will lead to corruption.” Only 15% disagreed.  Notably, 74% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats agreed with this statement.
  • 73% agreed that “there would be less corruption if there were limits on how much could be given to Super PACs.” Only 14% disagreed.  Here, 75% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats agreed.
  • Only about 1 in 5 Americans agree that average voters have the same access to candidates (and influence on candidates) as big donors to Super PACs.  Two-thirds of Americans disagree.

Broad Bipartisan Majorities Believe Elected Officials Favor the Interests of Super PAC Donors over the Public Interest

Large majorities of Americans believe that members of Congress will favor the interests of those who donate to Super PACs over those who do not — and that Super PAC donors can pressure elected officials to alter their votes.

  • More than two-thirds of all respondents (68%) — including 71% of Democrats and Republicans — agreed that a company that spent $100,000 to help elect a member of Congress could successfully pressure him or her to change a vote on proposed legislation.  Only one in five respondents disagreed.
  • More than three-quarters of all respondents — 77% — agreed that members of Congress are more likely to act in the interest of a group that spent millions to elect them than to act in the public interest.  Similar numbers of Republicans (81%) and Democrats (79%) agreed.  Only 10% disagreed.

The Perception that Super PACs Have Excessive Influence over Government Threatens Grave Consequences for Participatory Democracy

An alarming number of Americans report that their concerns about the influence of donors to outside political groups make them less likely to engage in democracy.  Communities of color, those with lower incomes, and individuals with less formal education are more likely to disengage due to concerns about how much influence is wielded by Super PAC donors.

  • Two in three Americans — 65% — say that they trust government less because big donors to Super PACs have more influence than regular voters.  Republicans (67%) and Democrats (69%) uniformly agree.
  • One in four Americans — 26% — say that they are less likely to vote because big donors to Super PACs have so much more influence over elected officials than average Americans.

Coming to a Town Near You!: SuperPACs and Local Races

If you like what dark-money groups are doing to national politics, you’ll love what they can do in a local race.

How much further does $10,000 or $100,000 go at the state level? According to a Pew Center on the States analysis, in the mid-2000s the average cost of a winning state Senate campaign was anywhere from $5,713 (North Dakota) to $938,522 (California). In Arizona it was $36,696; in Wisconsin, $140,287; in North Carolina, $234,031. By contrast, the average cost of a US Senate seat in 2010 was $9.2 million.

Super-PACs playing at the state level don’t need to drop millions to make a big impact, says Neil Reiff. In a crowded state-level or congressional primary with three or four candidates, a little money goes a long way. “If you’ve got a field with little or no name recognition,” Reiff says, “you can drown out everyone else.” …

“If super-PACs are going to play at the state level, we’re not going to find out until later, and it will probably happen in a very different way than in congressional or presidential races.”

‘Tea Party’ and ‘Occupy’ Join Together to Protect Free Speech

As we reported earlier this month, Waffle House executive and Georgia state senator Don Balfour is pushing a bill, SB469, that would prohibit picketing outside private residences, a law that would’ve put the Founding Fathers themselves in jail. The law is being pushed with the help of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Corporate America, and is primarily targeted at labor unions.

Now, Georgia’s Tea Partiers have joined the occupiers and labor unions in battling against Corporate America’s war on free speech. On Monday, the Atlanta Tea Party sent a message to its 50,000-person list opposing the bill. One of its main activists, Debbie Dooley, also testified against it in the state legislature.

Labor unions have First Amendment rights just like Tea Parties,” Dooley told Salon. “I don’t see how you can say it’s OK for one group to go and protest in front of CNN but a labor union can’t.”

The alliance between occupiers, tea partiers, and union members in Georgia against this corporate assault on the First Amendment is a promising sign that Americans of all ideologies are waking up and fighting back against the capture of our democracy by monied interests.

Republic Report, March 2012

Corporate Free Speech Trumps Local Self-Determination

Earlier this month, a federal court declared a Worcester regulation limiting tobacco ads (enacted for community health reasons) unconstitutional, on the grounds that corporate free speech has been expanded to include advertising. 

Tobacco companies have a constitutional right to communicate with adult consumers through retail advertising and this court appropriately recognized that,” said Murray Garnick, a senior vice president at Altria Client Services, a subsidiary of Philip Morris’ parent company. “We will continue to vigorously defend this right when it is challenged.”

Boston Globe, May 2012

BBC asks Mass. candidates: Can Money Buy Elections?

BBC was in the neighborhood this week, and visited the Wellesley RTS, where they talked to candidates for the Congressional seat represents Needham.  Speaking to Joe Kennedy III (D) and Sean Bielat (R), BBC asks–Can money buy elections? And is that “fair”?

Dump-goer says, “There’s no ‘fairness’ in American politics.”

Another, to the statement, “That’s not fair,” answers: “That’s capitalism.”

BBC’s Owen Bennet Jones, on the massive spending in the last MA-04 race (over $6 million) says, “That’s bonkers.”

Start at 2:00 mark: