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Newt Gingrich: Citizens United Super PACs 'Fundamentally, Profoundly Wrong ... - Huffington Post

Newt Gingrich: Citizens United Super PACs 'Fundamentally, Profoundly Wrong ... - Huffington Post | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke with Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert on Tuesday and appeared to suggest that he, like the comedian, was done defending super PACs.

 

A day earlier, Colbert retired his "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow" super PAC, which he'd created to underscore the negative effects of unlimited money allowed to flow into electoral politics after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling.

 

On Tuesday, Gingrich offered pointed criticism of the ruling's most visible byproduct.

"I think super PACs as such are in fact very dangerous in the long run," Gingrich told Colbert. "There's something fundamentally, profoundly wrong about what's happening. And it's happening in both parties, and in the long run it's going to be very negative and very destructive of our system."

 

Gingrich hasn't always felt this way. At the time of the court's decision in early 2010, he argued that it had granted “the right of every citizen, whether you agree or disagree, to get up and be heard, to speak, to have space in politics.” And the former speaker himself was a heavy beneficiary of super PAC spending during his failed campaign for president earlier this year. Winning Our Future, a super PAC supporting his candidacy, received at least $15 million in donations from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson alone.

 

But after serving as a punching bag for a super PAC supporting eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich appeared less pleased with Citizens United's impact on elections. Despite his unhappiness with being the primary target of the super PAC's attacks, Gingrich refused to take the opportunity to oppose Citizens United more broadly.

”I’m the victim of one personal person, Mitt Romney, whose staff decided to run a deliberately negative and dishonest campaign,” Gingrich said in January. "This particular approach, I think, has nothing to do with the Citizens United case, it has to do with a bunch of millionaires getting together to run a negative campaign, and Governor Romney refusing to call them off.”

 

On Tuesday, Gingrich appeared to admit that super PACs, which were ultimately responsible for more than $625 million in spending over the 2012 election cycle, allowed candidates with the highest number of wealthy backers to have an unfair advantage over those who had fewer.

"It turned out 26 billionaires beat one," Gingrich said of Romney's supporters compared to his. "This was a great revelation to us," he added jokingly.

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Rep. Schiff slams 'staggering naivety' of Citizens United ruling - Raw Story

Rep. Schiff slams 'staggering naivety' of Citizens United ruling - Raw Story | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California called for the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling to be overturned, saying the decision was “at odds with reality.”

 

The ruling struck down key campaign finance laws, giving rise to so-called Super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money to influence federal elections.

 

“What stood out most about Citizens United was not the court’s legal reasoning, but its staggering naivety,” Schiff said on the House floor. “As the court confidently declared, ‘We now conclude that independent expenditures including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.’ Unfortunately, the five justices who joined this opinion must be the last five Americans to feel that way.”

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Time for Legislature to push back against Citizens United decision - Concord Monitor

Time for Legislature to push back against Citizens United decision - Concord Monitor | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it
Time for Legislature to push back against Citizens United decision
Concord Monitor
The people of New Hampshire have seen how the U.S. Supreme Court's horrendous Citizens United v.
Diane Owens's insight:

The Texas legislature is also considering 3 resolutions asking for a constitutional amendment to reverse the effects of the Citizens United and related decisions.  For more information join the Central Texans United to Amend FB group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CenTexUnitedtoAmend/

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Three Years After Citizens United, More Campaign Finance Cases Loom - Corporate Counsel

Three Years After Citizens United, More Campaign Finance Cases Loom - Corporate Counsel | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Three Years After Citizens United, More Campaign Finance Cases Loom Corporate Counsel The third anniversary of the unpopular Citizens United decision was lost in the shadows of a presidential inauguration and the birthday of a landmark abortion decision. But fallout from that controversial campaign finance ruling lives on at the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

The justices on February 15 will consider three petitions, one of which is brought by the irrepressible foe of campaign finance restrictions, James Bopp Jr., and all of which urge the justices to do more to unravel those federal restrictions.

Diane Owens's insight:

Texans can't affort to let the Supreme Court continue to overturn common sense campaign finance laws. A constitutional amendment is increasingly our only option to fight the influence of big money on elections.  Join the effort at http://www.wolf-pac.com/texas.

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Citizens United To Supreme Court: Landmark School Desegregation Case Was Wrong - ThinkProgress

Citizens United To Supreme Court: Landmark School Desegregation Case Was Wrong - ThinkProgress | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Citizens United, the conservative group that successfully sued to enable wealthy corporations to buy elections, also has it in for same-sex couples. Yet an amicus brief they recently filed in the Supreme Court backing the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act would not simply deny marriage equality to gay people, it calls upon the Supreme Court to toss out a landmark decision ending public school segregation in the District of Columbia and declare that the federal government is free to discriminate against minorities and women.

Diane Owens's insight:

The Money = Free Speech attacks the notion of equal protection under the law as a constitutional right guaranteed by the 14th amendment.

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A Citizens United Wedding (Video) - Huffington Post (blog)

A Citizens United Wedding (Video) - Huffington Post (blog) | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it
A Citizens United Wedding (Video) Huffington Post (blog) Occupy Wall Street held an (un-)holy matrimony of a real human being to a non-human corporate "person" to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Citizen's United, granting corporations equal rights...
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The future of campaign finance - The Economist

The future of campaign finance - The Economist | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

A morning-after constitutional?  After an expensive election, proponents of stricter campaign-finance laws are looking for converts.

 

IF, AS the saying goes, “a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality”, then perhaps an advocate of stricter campaign-finance laws is a newly elected congressman or senator who has weathered months of negative ads funded by third-party groups freed from spending limits or disclosure requirements. That, at least, is the hope of many both inside and outside Congress.

 

This was the first presidential election since the Supreme Court ruled nearly three years ago, in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (FEC), that the First Amendment prohibits restrictions on campaign spending by companies, unions and independent groups. (The court had already established, 34 years earlier in Buckley v Valeo, the principle that campaign contributions, that is to say the giving of money, is a protected form of expression.) Before the Citizens United ruling, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 had barred corporations and unions from funding “issue ads”, which discuss a candidate’s position on an issue without directly advocating that candidate’s election or defeat. The Supreme Court struck down that ban, and in this cycle such groups, unconnected with any party or candidate, spent more than $1 billion, including more than $600m on the presidential race. Although most of that came from super-PACs, which must disclose both their donors and spending to the FEC, much of it also came from politically active non-profit organisations, which need disclose nothing at all. Total spending probably exceeded $6 billion—more than in any previous election cycle.

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Reconsider Buckley v. Valeo - OpEdNews

Reconsider Buckley v. Valeo - OpEdNews | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is widely acknowledged by legal experts as a constitutional scholar of super-star prominence. But in a November 15th speech made at a Federalist Society dinner he made an interesting misstep. In defending the 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC he provided the rationale for overturning the landmark decision in Buckley v. Valeo.

 

Reflecting on public criticism of the 5-4 decision in Citizens United he noted, "The question is whether speech that goes to the very heart of government should be limited to certain preferred corporations; namely, media corporations. Surely the idea that the First Amendment protects only certain privileged voices should be disturbing to anybody who believes in free speech."

 

Certainly, he says, we should not abide free speech protections for only certain privileged voices. But this is exactly the dictate of Buckley v. Valeo. This 1976 ruling decided that Congress could not limit the amount of money an individual could independently spend on elections because doing so would amount to a restriction of free speech, albeit only the free speech of the privileged class who can afford it!

 

An analysis of money spent on the 2012 federal elections shows that only 0.37% of contributors, a privileged few indeed, donated more than $200, but that this small group accounted for more than 67% of the total spent! In fact, a "privileged few individuals" provided the bulk of 2012 super PAC funding, and Buckley enforced their right to do so.

 

If Alito believes his own words, then the Court should reconsider Buckley v. Valeo. This decision enshrined privileged free speech by establishing a property requirement, one excluding those without expendable cash (47% of Americans by a recent CBO report).

 

Buckley's "money is speech" doctrine also puts space between members of the privileged class itself by creating a form of speech which scales with wealth. The more money one has the more speech one has. This rings Orwellian. Some speakers are more equal than others. And with the media focus of modern elections, political speech that effectively reaches the masses is reserved for the modern aristocracy alone. So yes, Justice Alito, I agree with you, this is disturbing.

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The Man Behind Citizens United Says 2012 Has Vindicated Him - Mother Jones

The Man Behind Citizens United Says 2012 Has Vindicated Him - Mother Jones | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Last month, James Bopp, the legal mind behind the Citizens United case that gave rise to super-PACs and the dark-money boom, told me he didn't really believe Americans were all that upset with the increasing amounts of money spent on politics. "There's a general cynicism among the American people about politicians and politics," he said, but "they could care less about campaign finance."

 

Now that the election's over, Bopp says he's been vindicated. When I caught up with him late last week, he told me he figures that Mitt Romney's loss was probably due to a variety of factors like poor messaging and spending. Without Citizens United, though, he says the election would have turned out much worse for Republicans: There would have been no counterbalance to the mainstream media. "The lesson here is all the hype over independent spending was just completely overblown," Bopp says. "Nobody can buy an election."

 

The poor return on investment among the biggest conservative outside spending groups would appear to back that up. You can only spend so much to sway voters, says Bopp. "There's a diminishing returns as you saturate a market. Once you've got your message across, the addtional spending accomplishes nothing." The pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future, for instance, made significant ad buys just one week out from the election in Minnesota and New Mexico, two states that Obama was at no risk of losing. Those moves led reporters to wonder if outside groups had raised more money than they knew what to do with. "That's why this thing about buying elections is fundamentally false," Bopp concludes.

 

The $6 billion in total spending in 2012 dwarfs that of any recent election, but Bopp simply attributes that to an increasingly bloated system that requires increasing amounts of money to compete against incumbents.

 

Bopp says the election was "fought to a draw," and "neither side accomplished what they set out to do." The county still has the same president, Republicans still have control of the House, and Democrats still lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. As for Obama's consideration of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, Bopp hopes he pursues it. He's confident that Republicans at the national and state level could block any serious efforts to undo the decision, especially with Republican supporters of the now-defunct McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill like Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe departing the Senate.

 

"I hope [Democrats] spend all their time on that," Bopp says, "because it's not going anywhere."

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Outside spending makes big difference in state-level races - The Center for Public Integrity

Outside spending makes big difference in state-level races - The Center for Public Integrity | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

The explosion of outside spending unleashed at the federal level by the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling also rocked state races.

 

Contests for the top executive and judicial spots, in states whose bans on corporate outside spending were invalidated by the ruling, were newly shaped by unlimited cash from out-of-state corporate and union treasuries.

 

The D.C.-based governors’ associations led the way, nearly keeping pace with candidate spending in several close races. Governors’ races in Montana, Washington and New Hampshire were neck-and-neck as voters were besieged by ads financed by outside spending groups through Election Day.

 

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Finally, a poll to add some clarity to the election! « CitizenVox

Finally, a poll to add some clarity to the election! « CitizenVox | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

There is only one thing abundantly clear in the polls right now: There is way too much money in politics. A new poll commissioned by the Corporate Reform Coalition found that nine out of 10 Americans agree there is too much corporate money in elections, and 51 percent strongly agree with that statement. For all you poll junkies out there, you’ll be relieved to know nine out of ten is way outside the margin of error.


The poll found strong evidence that not only do Americans think there’s too much money in politics, they believe this money has a damaging effect on our democracy. A whopping 81 percent believe the secret flow of money in politics is bad for our democracy. And 84 percent believe that corporate political spending drowns out the voices of average Americans. The same percentage believes corporate political spending makes Congress more corrupt. The results clearly show that Americans are ready for a dramatic revamping of the campaign finance system.


On that front, Americans broadly support commonsense reforms that have been stonewalled by this Congress. When it comes to the issue of disclosure, 85 percent of Americans believe prompt disclosure of political spending would help voters, customers and shareholders hold companies accountable for their political spending. Congress had the opportunity to provide that accountability earlier this year by passing the DISCLOSE Act, but the bill met a Republican led-filibuster in the Senate. Congress also has yet to move on the Shareholder Protection Act despite the fact that 73 percent of Republicans and Democrats support requiring corporations to get approval from their shareholders before spending in elections. Shedding light on corporate political spending enjoys the bipartisan support our presidential candidates could only dream of.


The good news is that Americans are ready to start holding corporations and dark money spenders accountable with or without the help of the presidential candidates, Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the poll, almost 80 percent of Americans would refuse to buy a company’s products or services based on its political


The SEC has the ability right now to empower investors and consumers to make the right choices for their wallets while keeping in line with their values by creating a rule requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. Americans are ready for the accountability the SEC can and should bring to our democracy.spending. Meanwhile, 65 percent would sell their stock in a company if they didn’t like a company’s election spending. And 75 percent of Americans would sign a petition asking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require corporate disclosure of political spending. As it happens, more than 300,000 people already have signed just such a petition.


Despite all those 50/50 polls out there showing that Americans can’t seem to agree on anything, there is one issue that has the unambiguous support of the vast majority of people. Poll after poll proves Americans want transparency and accountability in their elections. No statistical ties. No polling conspiracies. Americans want and deserve a country where their voices are heard regardless of the size of their wallets.

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Supreme Court's Theory of 'Independent' Outside Money Is No Longer Operative - Huffington Post

Supreme Court's Theory of 'Independent' Outside Money Is No Longer Operative - Huffington Post | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

The final numbers are not in yet, but we already have more than enough information to make one call in the 2012 elections: The U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision can be deemed a failure based on the very rationale that the court used to justify it.

 

In Citizens United, the court decided to permit unregulated outside spending by corporations and other entities that are not connected to candidates because it assumed such expenditures would be "independent" and, therefore, not potentially corrupting. To borrow an expression from the Watergate era, which led to our modern campaign finance rules, the court's assumption is "no longer operative."

 

This can be shown by looking at the activities of super PACs, which are spending the most unregulated money. About 60 percent of super PACs active this campaign cycle have devoted themselves to helping just one candidate, a report released last week by Public Citizen shows. These single-candidate super PACs have accounted for about 55 percent of all super PAC expenditures.

 

Many of these super PACs are founded, funded or operated by friends, family members, or political allies of the candidate they support. Such friends and family plans cannot plausibly be deemed independent. The phenomenon of super PACs being closely connected to candidates is not limited to those that sprang up to support Mitt Romney, President Obama and other presidential contenders. Many super PACs that are focused on congressional races are essentially in-house operations, as well.

 

Consider America Shining, a super PAC which has spent about three quarters of a million dollars attacking incumbent Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.). Royce's opponent, Jay Chen, said he had no knowledge of America Shining's inner workings when it ran an ad juxtaposing Royce and a detached monster hand grabbing the neck of a screaming woman. We now know America Shining is funded entirely by Chen's brother.

 

A similar saga unfolded in Washington state when a super PAC sent out mailings in the Democratic congressional primary so vicious that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called for a halt to the intra-party warfare. Laura Ruderman, an opponent of the candidate targeted by the mailings, professed innocence. Days later, it turned out that the super PAC received all of its money from Ruderman's mother.

 

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) was backed by not one, but two, super PACs dedicated solely to helping him rebuff his primary challenge. One had Indiana in its name, the other Hoosiers, but they were operated out of Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, Calif. Indiana Values was founded by two longtime Lugar staffers.

 

Super PACs in Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania were funded or managed by former finance chairs of the candidate they backed, to name just a few with such connections.

What all of this means is that donations to candidate-specific super PACs are effectively the same as those made directly to a candidate, satisfying the Supreme Court's longstanding test for spending that poses a risk of causing corruption and, thus, may constitutionally be restricted.

 

Although the five justices who signed the Citizens United decision are likely delighted by the torrents of spending they unleashed, they should be concerned about the implications of seeing their theory of independence discredited.

 

In the coming years, the court will inevitably face challenges to Citizens United presenting ever-mounting evidence that outside expenditures pose the same risk of corruption as unlimited direct contributions to candidates. How the court responds may help answer Americans' questions about whether it is guided by ideology or analysis.

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Ethnicity and Lawyer Cash Shape Supreme Races

Candidates for three Texas Supreme Court seats raised $2.8 million through the eve of Tuesday's election. Incumbent Justice David Medina looks like the latest victim of the racial profiling that too many GOP primary voters inflict on candidates with Spanish surnames.


Despite a huge cash advantage, Medina lost a Republican runoff to John Devine, whose top supporters now include a plaintiff attorney and a strip-club mogul.

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A Campaign Spending Amendment Is Admirable but Dangerous - Room for Debate

A Campaign Spending Amendment Is Admirable but Dangerous - Room for Debate | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Opinion by Monica Youn, Brennan Center Constitutional Fellow at New York University School of Law.


A proposal to amend the Constitution can function on two levels, the actual -- forcing a change in constitutional law -- or the aspirational -- transforming popular understanding and engagement.


I have serious doubts that trying to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United would work on an actual level, even apart from the obvious problem of amassing the necessary support. An amendment strategy assumes there is a silver bullet that can take care of a particular problem with a simple constitutional proposition, or a set of simple propositions. But even critics of the ruling (myself included), cannot agree on the crux of the problem -- whether it’s corporate personhood, equating money with speech, or the special status of elections in First Amendment law. More fundamentally, the complex regulatory problems of money in politics require flexibility and nuance and resist such encapsulation.


Even if you pick the right target for the silver bullet, you can never underestimate an unwilling Supreme Court’s ability to dodge it through an interpretive evasion. This creates a separate dilemma -- either you draft your amendment narrowly, accepting that resistant judges and private actors will make the most of whatever loopholes remain, or you go broad, creating potentially enormous problems of unintended consequences in the sensitive sphere of expressive freedoms.


On the aspirational level, however, a constitutional amendment strategy may be more valuable.


Unlike ordinary legislation, an amendment has a unique power to capture the public imagination, catalyzing awareness and engagement. Such a strategy can yield concrete gains whether or not the proposed amendment is adopted. An educated and energized constituency is a lasting resource that can be mobilized to push for other, more readily achievable reforms.


We should, however, be suspicious when politicians use the aspirational as political cover to avoid talking about the actual. Even in the post-Citizens United era, there are reforms that are within reach and that would make a difference -- such as greater disclosure, public financing, regulatory reform and a Federal Elections Commission overhaul.


But it’s a lot easier for politicians to sign on to a highly unlikely constitutional amendment than to back reforms that would force changes in their own fund-raising practices. Treating a largely political problem as a purely constitutional problem can be just another way of passing the buck, of blaming the Supreme Court for our own failings.

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What Did Markey Mean in Comparing Citizens United to Dred Scott? - The Nonprofit Quarterly

What Did Markey Mean in Comparing Citizens United to Dred Scott? - The Nonprofit Quarterly | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

At a campaign rally last week, Markey called for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision on campaign financing. In his speech, he used an allusion from 19th century U.S. history to make his case: “The constitution must be amended. The Dred Scott decision had to be repealed. We have to repeal Citizens United.”

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Three Years After Citizens United, More Campaign Finance Cases Loom

Three Years After Citizens United, More Campaign Finance Cases Loom | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

The third anniversary of the unpopular Citizens United decision was lost in the shadows of a presidential inauguration and the birthday of a landmark abortion decision. But fallout from that controversial campaign finance ruling lives on at the U.S.

 

The justices on February 15 will consider three petitions, one of which is brought by the irrepressible foe of campaign finance restrictions, James Bopp Jr., and all of which urge the justices to do more to unravel those federal restrictions.

Diane Owens's insight:

Another blow to campaign finance reforms may be coming from James Bopp, Jr courtesy of the Supreme Court.

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Ed Garvey: Reversing Citizens United is the way to go - Capital Times

Ed Garvey: Reversing Citizens United is the way to go
Capital Times
I believe there will be only one party in 2016. It will be the party of big money — perhaps $2 billion or more. The lone survivor will be the Republican Party. Why? The Supreme Court held in Citizens United that corporations can give whatever they want and in 2016 the bigs will pour money into the Republican Party.

Diane Owens's insight:

Join the effort in Texas to overturn Citizens United.  Sign up at http://www.wolf-pac.com/texas

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Court opened door to $933 million in new election spending

Court opened door to $933 million in new election spending | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed nearly $1 billion in new political spending in the 2012 election, with media outlets and a small number of political consulting firms raking in the bulk of the proceeds.

Diane Owens's insight:

KEY FINDINGS:

In first full election cycle since the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, 2012's federal elections ushered in nearly $1 billion in new political spending.Nearly two-thirds of that outside money— about $611 million — went to just 10 political advertising vendors, several of which were previously unknown.Eighty-nine percent of the ads paid for by Citizens United-related groups, such as super PACs and nonprofits, attacked candidates.
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Billionaires Warn Higher Taxes Could Prevent Them From Buying Politicians

Billionaires Warn Higher Taxes Could Prevent Them From Buying Politicians | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Introducing a new wrinkle into the already fraught fiscal cliff showdown, a consortium of billionaires today warned that if their taxes are raised they will no longer have enough money to buy politicians.

The group, led by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, commissioned a new study showing that the cost of an average politician has soared exponentially over the past decade.

While the American family has seen increases in the cost of food, health care and education, Mr. Adelson says, “those costs don’t compare with the cost of buying a politician, which has gone through the roof.”

The casino billionaire points to his group’s study, which puts the cost of purchasing an average House member at two million dollars and an average senator at several times that.

“And let’s say you buy a senator like Jim DeMint and he decides to quit,” Mr. Adelson says. “Good luck trying to get your money back.”

The Vegas magnate complains that the media has ignored billionaires’ essential role in giving jobs to politicians who would otherwise have difficulty finding “honest work of any kind.”

“Billionaires are providing employment for a group of seriously incompetent and marginal people,” Mr. Adelson says. “You raise taxes on us, and who’s going to create those jobs? I really don’t think people have thought this through.”

Adding insult to injury for America’s billionaires, he says, “the simple dream of someday owning a President is slipping out of reach.”

“People think a billion dollars buys you a President, but they’re wrong,” he says. “It barely gets you a lemon like Mitt Romney.”

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Represent.Us: Uniting To End Government Corruption

From the Occupy movement to top GOP strategists, forces from both sides of the aisle are uniting to combat the corrupting influence of money in politics.


The result? The American Anti-Corruption Act.  To read the act, sign your name, and learn more at www.Represent.Us


For details about the Act, visit: www.anticorruptionact.org

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Newt Gingrich: Citizens United Super PACs 'Fundamentally, Profoundly Wrong ... - Huffington Post

Newt Gingrich: Citizens United Super PACs 'Fundamentally, Profoundly Wrong ... - Huffington Post | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke with Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert on Tuesday and appeared to suggest that he, like the comedian, was done defending super PACs.

 

A day earlier, Colbert retired his "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow" super PAC, which he'd created to underscore the negative effects of unlimited money allowed to flow into electoral politics after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling.

 

On Tuesday, Gingrich offered pointed criticism of the ruling's most visible byproduct.

"I think super PACs as such are in fact very dangerous in the long run," Gingrich told Colbert. "There's something fundamentally, profoundly wrong about what's happening. And it's happening in both parties, and in the long run it's going to be very negative and very destructive of our system."

 

Gingrich hasn't always felt this way. At the time of the court's decision in early 2010, he argued that it had granted “the right of every citizen, whether you agree or disagree, to get up and be heard, to speak, to have space in politics.” And the former speaker himself was a heavy beneficiary of super PAC spending during his failed campaign for president earlier this year. Winning Our Future, a super PAC supporting his candidacy, received at least $15 million in donations from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson alone.

 

But after serving as a punching bag for a super PAC supporting eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich appeared less pleased with Citizens United's impact on elections. Despite his unhappiness with being the primary target of the super PAC's attacks, Gingrich refused to take the opportunity to oppose Citizens United more broadly.

”I’m the victim of one personal person, Mitt Romney, whose staff decided to run a deliberately negative and dishonest campaign,” Gingrich said in January. "This particular approach, I think, has nothing to do with the Citizens United case, it has to do with a bunch of millionaires getting together to run a negative campaign, and Governor Romney refusing to call them off.”

 

On Tuesday, Gingrich appeared to admit that super PACs, which were ultimately responsible for more than $625 million in spending over the 2012 election cycle, allowed candidates with the highest number of wealthy backers to have an unfair advantage over those who had fewer.

"It turned out 26 billionaires beat one," Gingrich said of Romney's supporters compared to his. "This was a great revelation to us," he added jokingly.

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Get What You Pay For? Not Always

Get What You Pay For? Not Always | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

The most expensive election campaign in American history is over. Executives across America can now begin to assess what their companies will get in return for the roughly $2 billion spent by business interests.

 

Regardless of the outcome, the conclusion is likely to be not very much. From the point of view of shareholders, corporate contributions will probably turn out to be, at best, a waste of money. At worst, they could undermine their companies’ performance for a long time.

 

As Wall Street knows well, the pitfalls of political spending start with picking the wrong horse: the financiers who broke so decisively for Barack Obama in 2008 changed their minds after the president started labeling them fat cats and supported a financial reform law they hate. This time they put $20 million in the campaign of Mitt Romney, more than three times what they contributed to President Obama’s re-election. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, once one of President Obama’s favorite bankers, now calls himself “barely a Democrat.”

 

But the bankers’ collective “oops” is not the only reason to doubt the wisdom of Big Business’s campaign spending. A rash of recent studies suggest that most businesses that invest in elections may do more than come up empty-handed. Spending on politics can do businesses lasting harm — damaging their reputations and distorting their investment decisions.

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The Rise of 99Rise - The Nation. (blog)

The Rise of 99Rise - The Nation. (blog) | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

The Rise of 99RiseThe Nation. (blog)The impact of the Supreme Court's 2011 decision Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission allowing unlimited and anonymous campaign spending has been profound and could yet be decisive in this election.

 

With an estimated $9.8 billion set to be spent during this electoral cycle, the 2012 elections will be the most expensive in history and have completely saturated the media and cultural environment in so-called swing states. As a result, according to the 99Rise.org, “One in four Americans say they are less likely to vote than in 2008, and 75 percent of Americans believe money buys results in Congress.

 

In response, 99Rise, a new grassroots group seeking to expose corporate spending in the most expensive election in United States history and get “big money out of politics” once and for all, has recently risen up. Coming out of the tradition of the Optor! movement in Serbia and the more recent Occupy protests in the US, 99Rise believes that strategic, nonviolent direct action is the only way to redress legislative loopholes that benefit profit over people.

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Any Way You Describe It, 2012 Campaign Spending Is Historic - Minnesota Public Radio

Any Way You Describe It, 2012 Campaign Spending Is Historic - Minnesota Public Radio | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonparitsan Center for Responsive Politics, says the big donors to outside groups — on both sides — have their own agendas.

 

"There is an expectation, I think, among many of these individuals that the rewards will go beyond mere gratitude," Krumholz says.

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Jim Hightower: The Corporate Mad Dogs of Citizens United - Noozhawk

As feared, our people's democratic authority has been dogged nearly to death by the hounds of money in this election go 'round, thanks to the Supreme Court's reckless decree in the now-infamous Citizens United case.

 

That rank political power play by five black-robed judicial partisans unleashed the Big Dogs of corporate money to bite democracy right in the butt this year, poisoning our elections with the venom of unlimited special-interest cash. But there’s also been another, little-reported consequence of the malevolent Citizens United decision: It has unleashed mad-dog corporate bosses to tell employees how to vote.

 

Prior to that 2010 court ruling, top executives were barred by federal law from using corporate funds to instruct, induce, intimidate or otherwise push workers to support particular candidates. No more, thanks to the five Supremes. Having been given a legal pass, bosses have openly and aggressively conscripted employees to be political troopers for corporate-backed candidates.

 

For example, CEO David Siegel of Westgate Resorts, a major peddler of time-share schemes, warned his 7,000-strong workforce against voting for President Barack Obama. To do so, he wrote in a letter to each of them, would “threaten your job.” Obama, Siegel declared, planned to raise taxes on multimillionaires like him, which would give him “no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”

 

Likewise, Dave Robertson, president of the Koch brothers’ industrial empire, notified 30,000 workers that they would suffer assorted “ills” if they helped re-elect Obama. In case that message was too subtle, Robertson helpfully included a slate-card of Koch-approved candidates for them to take into the polling booth.

 

Of course, corporate chieftains say they’re not making threats — just suggestions. As Boss Siegel disingenuously put it: “There’s no way I can pressure anybody. I’m not in the voting booth with them.”

 

But, of course, he can see (or be told by watchful managers) if any employee dares to sport an Obama campaign button, bumper sticker or lawn sign. And he can find out if any rebellious worker has gone to a Democratic Party event, volunteered in the wrong campaign or made a donation to Obama (now there’s a chilling irony — under Citizens United, Siegel can secretly shovel a million bucks or more straight out of the corporate treasury into an anti-Obama campaign group, but a regular person’s $200 donation has to be disclosed for all to see, including the boss).

 

So, sure, this is America, where we’re all equal as citizens — you, me and the Fortune 500. And don’t forget that you’re perfectly free to defy the guy who can fire you for whatever reason he makes up — or for no reason at all. Good luck with that.

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People really hate Citizens United - Salon

People really hate Citizens United - Salon | Texans United to Amend | Scoop.it

A new poll shows the vast majority of Americans think there's too much money in politics

By Alex Seitz-Wald

 

Maybe it’s the fact that people are tired of having their favorite TV shows as a side dish to political attack ads this time of year, but a new poll shows that Americans think there’s way too much money in politics. Almost 90 percent of respondents agree there’s too much corporate money in politics, with 51 percent strongly agreeing, according to a new poll released today by the Corporate Reform Coalition. The poll of 804 Americans was conducted by the Democratic-leaning P.R. firm Bannon Communications.

 

The survey found that 76 percent of Americans support a requirement that corporations publicly disclose their contributions to groups that funnel money into politics, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, 81 percent think corporations should only spend money on political campaigns if they disclose their spending immediately, while 80 percent said they think companies should have to get approval from shareholders before getting involved in politics.

 

These two questions reflect two of the most prominent ideas pushed by campaign finance reformers. The DISCLOSE Act, a bill that has so far been blocked by Republicans on Capitol Hill, would significantly bolster disclosure regulations for election spending, while activist shareholders and some state legislatures have tried to give shareholders sway over how the companies they invest in spend resources on political action. The Corporate Reform Coalition is a coalition of progressive, mostly good government, groups fighting Citizens United and corporate money in politics.

 

But corporate money is only one piece of the problem. A new study from Public Citizen notes that most super PACS only support a single candidate, a fact that undermines the Supreme Court’s argument in the Citizens United decision. Of the more than 100 super PACs that have spent at least $100,000 so far this year, 65 were active in only a single race. These single-candidate groups — which include two of the biggest ones, the Mitt Romney-backing Restore Our Future and the Obama-backing Priorities USA — account for 55 percent of the $370 million spent by all active super PACs so far. But most, 69 groups, are devoted solely to congressional elections, and 39 of those have worked on behalf of only one candidate.

 

Taylor Lincoln of Public Citizen says the real importance of the study is not about the numbers but about the intellectual foundation of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. In the decision, the Court agreed that very large direct contributions to candidates can be corrupting, so the government can and should regulate them. But the Court also said that independent spending groups, like super PACs, can’t possibly be corrupting because it’s done independently of candidates, so there’s no opportunity for quid pro quos. “The whole point of our report is that that’s a fictional distinction,” Lincoln explained. With super PACs, which are often started by former staffers of the candidate, politicians can essentially set up parallel candidate committees ”outside the walls of the campaign finance system.”

 

Indeed, this has become pretty clear in the two years since the court’s ruling. Someone seeking to influence a candidate may actually have a far easier time doing it now than before the case, because they can give so much more money than they ever could. This is hardly shocking news, but the numbers add some compelling details.

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