HOW TO GET BIG MONEY OUT OF ELECTIONS & RECLAIM THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF ‘WE THE PEOPLE’

Please join David Cobb, nationally known spokesperson for Move to Amend, as he pulls back the curtain on the decades-old story of how corporations have gotten the Supreme Court to give them constitutional rights reserved for the people by the framers of the Constitution. Using these rights, corporations and the super-rich are now allowed to spend unlimited sums to influence our elections!

David’s talk couldn’t be better timed.  On November 6, nearly a third of Massachusetts voters will have the chance to vote on the “Democracy Amendment” question, a nonbinding ballot question calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate constitutional rights and allow us to establish spending limits in political campaigns.

Meet other concerned citizens who want to reclaim our democracy! Get involved in the growing national movement for an amendment to the US Constitution!

Date:    Thursday, September 20th, from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.

Location:   Natick Senior Center,  90 Oak Street, Natick MA

David Cobb is National Projects Director of Democracy Unlimited. He is a lawyer and political activist. David has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for political office himself, and has been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.  He truly believes we must use ALL the tools in the toolbox to effect the systemic social change we so desperately need. 

Co-Sponsored by Common Cause, Democracy Amendment Coalition of MA, Occupy Natick
Progressive Democrats of America – Greater Boston (PDA)

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Karl Rove’s Super Secret SuperPAC Meeting… infiltrated

From Businessweek:

On the final morning of the Republican National Convention, Karl Rove took the stage at the Tampa Club to provide an exclusive breakfast briefing to about 70 of the Republican Party’s highest-earning and most powerful donors. During the more than hour-long session, Rove explained to an audience dotted with hedge fund billionaires and investors—including John Paulson and Wilbur Ross—how his super PAC, American Crossroads, will persuade undecided voters in crucial swing states to vote against Barack Obama. He also detailed plans for Senate and House races, and joked, “We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

Then Rove pleaded with his audience for more money—much more.

This rare look at the mechanics of super-PAC fundraising and electoral strategy was likely not intended for reporters. I was invited as the guest of a financier who is a significant Republican donor. The financier knew that I was a journalist. At no point was I presented with, nor did I agree to, restrictions regarding the information I heard. Upon my arrival at the breakfast, I was not asked if I was a journalist. I gave my name, identified the person who had invited me, was handed a wristband, and ushered into the dining room. American Crossroads disputes this version of events, but a spokesman did not immediately return calls to elaborate.
–Read More at Businessweek

image from businessweek

State Legislature Races Are Cheap

The thinking behind it, which was very ingenious, was that

State legislative races are cheap, and you can just put a bit of money into them and flip the statehouse…

And most people don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s going on in the states. …

But state legislatures are ground zero for where politics play out.

In the 2010 state races, where people don’t spend much money, he and the groups that he helped found — that were supposedly independent groups — spent $2.2 million.

It doesn’t sound like a lot nationally, but it can make all the difference in the context of one state.

So basically what you’re looking at is one very wealthy corporate captain who, when motivated enough, can exert enormous influence in a state.

–New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, Fresh Air Interview, on how one billionaire is targeting state level politics, which could be a template for national interests seeking to leverage their politics at a local level in these “cheap” races in the age of Citizens United.

Super PACs

From a presentation by Mimi Marziani, Money in Politics After Citizens United: Troubling Trends & Possible Solutions

The creation, and subsequent rise, of so-called “Super PACs” is the most prominent post-Citizens United development.  Regular PACs have been around for a long time, but could only accept contributions up to $5,000 from human beings.

Super PACs are mutant PACs that can raise, and then spend, unlimited amounts money from corporations, unions, and individuals on political advertisements, as long as they do not coordinate their spending with any candidate.

Despite popular belief, Citizens United did not create Super PACs—at least, not directly.

The Court, in holding that corporations have the same right to engage in independent spending as natural persons, naively stated that political spending can only corrupt if it is directly coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.

Afterward, the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) and lower federal courts quickly expanded this logic.  They reasoned that as long as a group is not coordinating with any candidate, there is no anti-corruption reason to impose contribution limitations on that group.  Thereafter, numerous political committees declared independence from their preferred candidate, and Super PACs were born.

Contrary to the Supreme Court’s assumption, however, there is no reason to believe that independent spending benefiting a candidate is, in fact, less likely to lead to corruption than direct contributions.

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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.”