Money & Democracy Update: Must-see activist video, record ca$h and Rick Perry exposed

Stunning Statistics of the Week:"Public Citizen Money and Democracy Update"

  • 235,908,179: Adult population of the U.S.
  • .06 percent: The percent of the adult population of the U.S. that gave $2,400 or more to candidates, political parties or political action committees in the 2010 election cycle

Flash mob refrain: “We won’t give our lives to corporate control”

What do you get when you mix impassioned people, a tuba and a mall? A flash mob singing about how they will buck corporate power. A group of concerned California citizens sang their song outside a courthouse and in a mall recently, with impressive results. It’s a catchy tune, so check it out. One of the refrains: “A subprime mortgage and what do you get? A bank gets your house and you go deeper in debt.”

Perry supporters get favors, plum jobs

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has given hundreds of his most generous supporters and their businesses grants, tax breaks, contracts and appointments, a New York Times investigation shows. In turn, the supporters helped Perry, who is running for president, raise more money than any politician in Texas history. The national news story apparently didn’t faze Perry; a few days later, he appointed two big donors to state jobs, prompting Public Citizen’s Craig Holman to comment, “It’s pay-to-play politics at its worst.”

While we’re talking about Perry …

Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised a record $22 million for the Republican Governors Association (RGA) this year, $4 million of that from Texans. The trouble is, Texas law prohibits state elected officials from accepting campaign contributions during the legislative session. Perry wasn’t collecting for himself, but he did hit up some of the same people who contributed to his personal campaign. And the RGA, in turn, has supported his campaigns. This raises the question of whether Perry was exploiting a loophole by soliciting money from Texans with stakes in the legislative business – exactly the thing the law was meant to stop.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul can raise money – quickly

In just 24 hours, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised $1.8 million for his presidential campaign. It isn’t a first for the lawmaker, who raised $5 million in one day during his 2007-2008 presidential run. The kicker, though, is that during this latest money push, his website was attacked and it shut down for a few hours. And still, he raked in an enormous sum.

Senate candidates collect record amount

Senate candidates have collected a record amount of cash this year, according to new figures released by the Federal Election Commission. Eighty-two Senate campaign committees raised $103.1 million – the highest total ever reported for the first six months of a non-election year.

When in Rome …

The same money-raising tactics used by the big guns nationally are being mimicked at the local level. The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce in Louisiana plans to use its year-old political action committee to influence local elections this fall. “In order to be successful in the political arena where decisions that impact business are made, you have to be a player,” chamber President Rob Guidry told a reporter. “And to be a player, you have to have money.”

Update: Missoula residents to vote on corporate personhood

We told you last week that a Missoula City Council member was pushing her colleagues to place a referendum on the next ballot about corporate personhood. She succeeded; residents will vote later this year on a measure that will urge federal and state lawmakers to amend the U.S. Constitution “to clearly state that corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as citizens.” The ballot measure is one of several cropping up in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which said corporations can spend as much as they want to influence elections.

In the Super PAC race, conservatives are winning

During the first half of the year, left-leaning Super PACs raised $7.61 million compared to $17.61 million raised by conservative Super PACs, according to a new report by the Center for Responsive Politics.

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