Money and Democracy Update: FEC acts in public interest, sort of; debate rages over whether Gingrich was lobbyist; Hightower at house parties

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $3 billion: What might be spent on television campaign ads in the 2012 election cycle
  • $2.1 billion: What was spent on television campaign ads in the last presidential election cycle

Hightower to be featured at Dec. 15 organizing parties

Jim Hightower, national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author who “has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses and just-plain-folks” – will be a guest speaker at Dec. 15 house parties designed to organize actions nationwide on Jan. 21! It is not too late to sign up to host one. The January actions will be part of a push to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

Wow, this doesn’t happen every day: FEC rules against a new PAC, for public interest

Well, well. This doesn’t happen every day. The Federal Election Commission this week denied a U.S. senator’s request to create a Super PAC. That’s right – the agency that has been hopelessly deadlocked on all controversial campaign finance questions came together to tell U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that elected officials with their own political action committees must abide by contribution limits.

But here comes the disappointment …

The Federal Election Commission deadlocked on an important question: How closely can Super PACs and candidates work together without breaking rules designed to limit coordination between campaigns and outside groups? The commission couldn’t muster a majority to rule that a Super PAC’s plan to air ads it admitted would be “fully coordinated” with a candidate would violate the rule against coordinated campaign expenditures.

Government getting an earful over proposed gift restriction

The Office of Government Ethics is getting an earful from business groups about an Obama administration proposal to prohibit lobbyists from giving gifts to federal employees, including paying for conferences and trade shows. “A slap in the face” and “anti-business” are some of the invectives being hurled by trade groups. Public Citizen? We like the idea! “It’s a move in the right direction,” Craig Holman of Public Citizen told USA Today.

House tries again to kill presidential public financing

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a measure that would eliminate public financing for presidential elections. Not a good move, reform groups told the lawmakers. The silver lining: The bill is likely to die in the U.S. Senate, as it has done before.

It depends on what your definition of “lobbyist” is

When is a lobbyist a lobbyist? That depends on what they do. It’s possible to appear to do lobbying, but not fit the technical definition of a lobbyist. The matter is examined in light of a debate over whether GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich was a lobbyist.

Los Angeles to vote on corporate personhood

We’ve told you about a number of cities that have called for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said corporations could spend unlimited sums to influence elections – to be overturned. Most were smaller; here comes a biggie. Next week, the Los Angeles City Council will vote on whether to call on Congress to amend the Constitution to say that corporations should not have constitutional rights.

Dollars and Cents (even more news bites):

… Banks are likely to spend a record amount again this year on lobbying as they attempt to undermine the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law …

… The majority of adults in an AARP poll said political campaigns should be shorter and there should be more disclosure of who pays for campaign ads

… U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) is the subject of an ethics investigation into whether a group of related corporations were used to evade limits on the amount of contributions that could be made to his legal defense fund …

… Two Florida cities are asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its Citizens United ruling

… Ice cream moguls Ben and Jerry talk about their work to overturn the Citizens United decision.

Visit DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more!

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