Money and Democracy Update: Government contractors used to disclose donors, FEC calls on Crossroads GPS to cough them up, and calls for a constitutional amendment

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

  • $35 million: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s net worth
  • $9.9 million: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s net worth
  • $3.7 million: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s net worth
  • $2.1 million: House Speaker John Boehner’s net worth

Government contractors used to disclose their donors, Public Citizen says

While critics have said that President Barack Obama’s proposed disclosure executive order would politicize government contracting, contractors in fact have long given substantial sums to campaign coffers, nearly all of which had been disclosed until recently, Public Citizen said in a letter sent this week to Obama. Public Citizen urged the president to promptly sign his proposed executive order that would make companies vying for government contracts disclose their campaign contributions. Tell Obama to sign the executive order.

FEC stalls on disclosure

Speaking of disclosing campaign contributions, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) failed to reach a consensus on whether independent groups should have to disclose their political donations. The bipartisan agency again reached a deadlock because neither side of the six-member commission would cross party lines. “I’ve never seen an FEC this bad before,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told Bloomberg.

But a federal judge makes a call …

A group spending more than $1,000 on political ads would have to register as a political action committee and disclose its donors, a federal judge ruled this week. The case was brought by Real Truth About Obama, a nonprofit group that wanted to run ads comparing President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign promises to his voting record in the Senate. The group was represented by James Bopp Jr. – the same lawyer who argued on behalf of Citizens United in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case last year.

FEC calls on Crossroads to cough up info on donors

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week sent two letters to Crossroads GPS, the group founded by Republican heavyweight Karl Rove that pumped more than $16 million into the 2010 midterm elections, asking the group to disclose its donors. The request appears unlikely to be honored, National Journal wrote.

Election Day is 18 months away, but attack ads are rolling

Attack ads have already started running in advance of the 2012 election, despite Election Day being 18 months away. But don’t believe everything you see on TV. Some groups have blasted ads for being false, yet television managers say they don’t vouch for an ad’s accuracy when they agree to air it. In fact, they only care if the group can pay for the ad and can ensure that the station won’t be sued for running it, according to The Hill.

Where does Obama really stand on special interests?

More than two years after President Barack Obama campaigned on shunning special interests, he has given nearly 200 of his biggest donors plush positions in government posts and appointments. “Less than one in five at the $50,000 level got an administration position. Half of $200,000 bundlers were picked for some post; 80 percent of the $500,000 bundlers were appointed,” the Center for Public Integrity reported. Naturally, the White House defended the appointments of Obama’s bundlers and said they are all qualified.

Clients of New York state lawmakers’ law firms got billions in contracts

President Barack Obama isn’t the only one taking campaign money into consideration. A New York Times analysis showing that New York state has awarded more than $7.4 billion in contracts to clients of law firms that employ state lawmakers was released just as the Legislature approved a measure that will, for the first time, require elected officials with law practices to disclose the names of clients they represent in matters before the state. However, the bill has holes.

Movement toward a constitutional amendment is growing

At Netroots Nation, a conference for political bloggers held this week in Minneapolis, the buzz is that a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC is a must, reports Public Citizen’s Angela Bradbery. Agree? Make sure you sign Public Citizen’s petition calling for the amendment.

Feingold fights back against Super PACs – even Democratic ones

Also at Netroots Nation, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold delivered a keynote address – in which he attacked colleagues who accepted unlimited and undisclosed outside money. He also slammed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, saying, “Speech doesn’t corrupt. Money corrupts, and money isn’t speech.” Feingold did say that President Barack Obama’s proposed executive order to disclose government contractors’ campaign contributions was a “gutsy move.”

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