Money and Democracy Update: Fox News transparent on political spending? Controversial fundraising plan, more

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

$2 million: Amount outside groups have spent to influence race for the seat of former U.S. Rep. Chris Lee’s (R-N.Y.).

$7 million: The amount the three candidates have raised for the race.

More than $2.6 million: Amount of personal money that Jane Corwin, Republican candidate for the seat, and Jack Davis, tea party candidate, have each put into the race.

$250,000: Amount of her own money that Kathy Hochul, the Democratic candidate vying for the seat, has put into the race.

Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2011/05/attack-ads-fly-new-york-special-election.html

Fox News will disclose political spending

Fox News will begin disclosing information about political spending by posting the information on the website of News Corp., the network’s parent company. The company’s expenditures became controversial last year when News Corp. made $1 million contributions to both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors Association. The new policy calls for disclosure of contributions made between January and June to be posted in July. After that, they would be posted each January. That’s too late, says Media Matters for America.

If they can do it, we can too – Dems seek FEC permission to copy controversial GOP plan

Democrats have asked the Federal Election Commission whether a new plan to use independent groups to avoid fundraising limits is legal. The reason for the request? That’s what the GOP plans to do. Republican campaign lawyer James Bopp, who was instrumental in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case and has been going all over the country to overturn campaign finance laws, announced the new strategy this week. It calls for using federal lawmakers, candidates and party officials to raise unlimited money for election ads, which is illegal because the law forbids solicitation of unlimited funds by candidates and party officials. Good government organizations immediately denounced the plan.

Minnesota disclosure law upheld

A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said that a Minnesota law requiring disclosure of corporate political donations can stand. The law, which calls for corporations that donate more than $100 to create a political fund and disclose contribution information, does not impose a burden on free speech, the court ruled.

And they’re off …

Priorities USA, a new group created by former White House aides, is launching its first ad of the 2012 presidential season – targeting potential GOP candidate Mitt Romney. The ad will run in South Carolina.

Obama still mulling executive order

President Barack Obama still hasn’t signed a draft executive order requiring companies vying for government contracts to disclose details of their political spending. Meanwhile, a group of 80 businesses sent Obama a letter this week urging him to back off. House Republicans are threatening to introduce legislation to block such an order.

Georgia governor vetoes disclosure measure

Georgia’s governor has vetoed a new bill that would have required campaign literature to state clearly who paid for it and whether the candidate okayed it. The governor explained his veto by saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that political donations are protected speech.

Sprint Nextel shareholders approve political contribution disclosure proposal

More than half (53 percent) of Spring Nextel shareholders have voted for a proposal by the New York City Pension Fund for disclosure of political contributions. Under the proposal, Sprint Nextel would report its policies for making political contributions, identify who decided to make the contributions and account for the money. New York City’s comptroller called it a victory for pensioners and institutional investors.

Corporate takeover of politics: Moran to chair discussion

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) will chair a discussion on May 28 at George Mason University on the pervasive corporate takeover of American politics, including the threat to our democracy posed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations a green light to spend as much as they want to sway elections. Representatives from Public Citizen, People for the American Way, the AFL-CIO and the Coffee Party USA will be participating as well. The event is free and open to the public.

Get the Money & Democracy Update delivered to your inbox! Sign up here.