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Money and Democracy update: Van Hollen sues FEC, Obama pushes for disclosure, BP doles out cash

Stunning  Statistic of the Week:

$8 billion: The amount that all federal candidates (congressional and presidential) are expected to spend on their 2012 election efforts

Source: http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/election-cost-price-tag/2011/04/14/id/392926#ixzz1JboenAUS

Van Hollen sues FEC over disclosure rule

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has sued the Federal Election Commission to make public the names of big money political donors who now may remain anonymous. Van Hollen said he is aiming to close a loophole by reversing an FEC regulation requiring companies and groups to name only those donors who give at least $1,000 specifically to pay for political activities. The lawmaker says this guts disclosure requirements Congress enacted in 2002 as part of the McCain-Feingold law.

Disclosure via executive order

President Barack Obama has drafted an executive order that would require companies vying for government contracts to disclose information about contributions they make to groups that run political ads. This is part of a trend of federal agencies trying to increase transparency in campaign finance.

BP doles out cash to Republican lawmakers

Evidently, part of BP’s long-range plan to get out of the doghouse after last year’s disaster in the Gulf involves giving money to members of Congress. BP has donated $29,000 to lawmakers this election cycle, with most of that going to Republican leaders. In addition, BP’s political action committee had $332,408 at the end of the month.

More Citizens United fallout: Corporations can openly tell employees how to vote

Here’s another sign of how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has changed the political landscape: Corporations can openly urge their employees to vote for certain candidates. Koch Industries, led by conservative brothers David and Charles Koch, already has done this; The Nation got hold of an election packet the company distributed to employees in Washington state listing Koch-backed candidates.

Corporate political spending is on shareholders’ minds

During this annual meeting season, political spending is getting more attention from shareholders. Seventy-eight shareholder proposals focus on political spending or lobbying, up from 48 proposals during the first six months of 2010. The reason more people are focused on it? The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

Business interests rule in Florida Legislature

With Republicans running the governor’s office and both houses of the Florida Legislature, business interests are getting ready to score big in this year’s legislative session. Measures that in the past were off-limits – such as restrictions on personal injury lawsuits against automakers and cuts in unemployment benefits – may be passed. It doesn’t hurt that of the 30 largest political contributors in the state this year, all but two are corporations or business-backed interest groups.

Join Annie Leonard and Robert Weissman for Citizens United webinar

Join the Story of Stuff Project’s Annie Leonard and Public Citizen President Robert Weissman next Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m. EDT and again at 10 p.m. EDT for an hour-long webinar and conversation about her latest animated video, “The Story of Citizens United v. FEC: Why Democracy Only Works When People Are in Charge.” Annie will share why she felt it was important to tell this story of corporate influence. Weissman, who served as a senior content advisor for the film, will focus on the implications of the Citizens United case. The conversation will allow plenty of time for questions. Click here to register for the 7 p.m. event and here to register for the 10 p.m. event.

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