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Incoming GOP leaders are reaping benefits of power; corporate contributions flowing

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $718 million: Total amount spent by all presidential candidates in 2004
  • $745 million: Amount President Barack Obama spent to get elected in 2008 – a new record
  • $1 billion: Amount Obama is expected to raise and spend on his 2012 re-election campaign
  • $1.3 billion: Total amount spent by all presidential candidates in 2008

Republicans reap benefits of being in power

Just before the midterm elections, when it was pretty clear that Republicans would be taking over the House of Representatives, industry interests lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawmakers slated to be chairs of influential committees. These include committees overseeing tax policy, energy matters and the implementation of the new health care law. “People bet on winners,” Craig Holman, money and politics expert at Public Citizen, told USA Today.

Even corporate honchos want disclosure

Even some business executives are alarmed at the unchecked giving to political campaigns. The National Journal reports that “a small but growing chorus of corporate executives, business analysts, and investors is calling for better disclosure and oversight of corporate campaign spending.”

Final tally of Senate race spending linked to Citizens United: $85 million

New York’s public advocate, Bill deBlasio, has tallied how much money poured into the midterm Senate races courtesy of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations the go-ahead to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. DeBlasio, who created a database of the country’s largest corporations and their political spending policies, calculated that $85 million spent in the Senate races can be linked to the court ruling. Of that, $40 million came from anonymous donors.

Even the FEC doesn’t think this is a good idea

Making political donations by cell phone? Not so fast. The Federal Election Commission has recommended against a proposal for people to be able to send candidates donations via cell phone. It would be too easy for people to exceed the $50 limit for anonymous donations and too hard to separate out corporate funds, the agency said. However, the agency may be amenable to the idea if it were tweaked.

Note: Money & Democracy update will be away for the next two weeks. The next Money & Democracy Update will be published Jan. 7. Happy holidays!

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