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Money and Democracy Update: Daily Show on corporate personhood, Perry arsenal grows and more

    Stunning Statistics of the Week

    12: Number of members of the supercommittee charged with reducing the debt

    $41 million: The amount the supercommittee lawmakers have received from the finance, insurance and real estate sector while they have been in Congress

    $900,000: The amount given by JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo alone to these members

    Source: http://www.publicampaign.org/reports/41million

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    Daily Show highlights absurdity of corporate personhood

    In the midst of the current economic crisis, one group isn’t struggling so much: corporations. They’ve had sky-high profits, have opted out of paying taxes and have all the governmental support they need. The folks over at The Daily Show wondered, if corporations can be considered people — as the U.S. Supreme Court and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have said — could people be corporations? See the result.

    Perry supporters add another gun to the arsenal

    Perry supporters seem determined to come out ahead in the campaign cash arms race. They have formed a nonprofit group under the 501(c)(4) section of the tax code to boost his campaign with contributions that don’t have to be disclosed to anyone. Recall that recently, supporters created a Super PAC for Perry called Make Us Great Again, and opponents responded with the Super PAC Texans for America’s Future.

    Facebook gets into the PAC game

    Facebook is diving deeper into the political game. The company has created a political action committee. The reason, pundits say: The social networking behemoth wants to ensure privacy and antitrust rules and laws go its way (that is, against consumers). For once, though, Facebook seems behind the times; it formed only a regular PAC (which receives limited contributions from employees and shareholders), not a Super PAC that can receive unlimited corporate cash.

    Corporate executive group calls for colleagues to come clean

    Not all corporate executives like the secret political money game. The Committee on Economic Development, a nonprofit business-focused policy organization of 200 corporate executives and university leaders, is calling for corporations to stop doling out anonymous campaign cash. It also says Congress should pass stricter disclosure laws.

    New trend: Redistricting groups with questionable origins

    Groups with innocuous names but murky origins are being created to influence redistricting efforts, ProPublica reports. Corporations and other wealthy interests are bankrolling the groups to boost chances of political allies being elected. The groups can collect an unlimited amount of contributions, usually without disclosing the source, and spend it on such things as voter data, mapping consultants and lobbyists.

    Citizens United, the group, putting money into Virginia races

    An affiliate of Citizens United, the group, is spending money to sway elections in Virginia. The Presidential Coalition, Citizen United’s tax-exempt fundraising affiliate, has spent nearly $100,000 during the 2011 election cycle on state House and Senate races.

    Good government groups file IRS complaint about four groups

    Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center have asked the IRS to investigate the tax status of four groups. Crossroads GPS (Republican strategist Karl Rove’s group), American Action Network, Priorities USA (formed by former White House aides to support President Barack Obama’s re-election) and Americans Elect. The groups claim 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, which allows them to hide the identity of their contributors, but the complaint alleges that they’ve engaged in too much political activity to qualify as (c)(4)’s and should instead be organized under laws that require disclosure of political contributions.

    Three companies agree to disclose political contributions

    New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has persuaded Marriott International, Yum Brands and Limited Brands Clothing to disclose their political and advocacy donations, and be more transparent about how decisions about political spending are made.