Money & Democracy Update: Outrage growing over Target's campaign spending

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

Amount financial industry has spent on lobbying this year: $251 million

Amount Citigroup spent on lobbying during the first half of 2010: $3 million

Amount Goldman Sachs spent on lobbying in the first half of 2010: $2.7 million

Amount Bank of America spent on lobbying in the first half of 2010: $2.1 million

Goldman Sachs says it won’t make direct expenditures on electioneering

Goldman Sachs is taking the high road – sort of. Goldman officials say they will decline the U.S. Supreme Court’s offer in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. In a revised policy statement on its website, the company said that it “does not spend corporate funds directly on electioneering communications” – such things as radio and television ads. However, that doesn’t mean Goldman won’t use its political action committee to raise money to influence races. And Goldman executives are free to throw money at candidates.

Firestorm over Target’s political donations grows

What started as an email campaign targeting Target for its political giving has grown. MoveOn launched the petition drive, asking people across the country to boycott Target “until it stops trying to buy elections” because the company gave $150,000 to MN Forward, a group supporting Tom Emmer, a candidate for governor who opposes same-sex marriage. More than 260,000 people pledged to stop shopping at Target, prompting Emmer to apologize and promise to review the company’s process for future political donations. But it didn’t stop there. Today, MoveOn.org delivered the petition signatures to the company’s Minneapolis headquarters, accompanied by protestors.

FEC sets stage for super-PACs

In advisory opinions issued in late July, the Federal Election Commission said that corporations may make unlimited donations to independent expenditure committees. These are groups that are involved in elections but don’t coordinate with campaigns or contribute money directly to candidates. The National Journal says this sets the stage for “a new generation of ‘super’ political action committees.”

North Carolina governor signs disclosure law

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has signed into law a requirement that the names of those who fund radio and TV ads for or against candidates be disclosed to the public. The law was in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Perdue also signed a law that will boost penalties for illegal campaign donations over $10,000.

You are either with the people, or with Goldman Sachs …

At Netroots Nation last month, Public Citizen President Robert Weissman sat down and chatted with Uptake about the need to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. He also mused about the corporate takeover of our democracy, noting that candidates are “either with the people” or “with Exxon, Goldman Sachs and General Electric.” Watch the interview here.

Rallies next week over Citizens United

Public Citizen, Clean Elections Texas, MoveOn and other groups will stage a rally in Austin on Tuesday to highlight the dangers of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and call for public funding of elections and lobbying reform. With puppets and music, this event should be fun. It is one of many being staged throughout the country. Click here for sign-up information for the Austin event and here for  information about other rallies.

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