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Money & Democracy Update: DISCLOSE Act coming back

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount News Corp., owner of Fox News, recently gave to the Republican Governors Association: $1 million
  • Amount General Electric, NBC’s owner, has given during the 2010 election cycle:* $1.69 million ($1 million to Dems, $689,600 to Republicans)
  • Amount the PAC of Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, has given: $117,000 ($75,500 to Dems, $41,500 to Republicans)
  • Amount Viacom, CBS’ parent company, and its PAC, have given: $220,200 ($134,700 to Dems, $85,500 to Republicans)
  • Amount Disney, ABC’s parent company, has given: $272,500 ($137,500 to Dems, $135,000 to Republicans)

    *Contribution numbers include money given to candidates, political action committees (PACs), gubernatorial associations and campaign committees during the 2010 election cycle.

DISCLOSE Act likely to come up again in September

Look for the DISCLOSE Act to come up again in September. You may recall that the House of Representatives passed it in July, but Senate Republicans blocked a vote on it. Public interest groups, including Public Citizen, urged the Senate to reconsider. If the act doesn’t become law until September or October, it won’t have any effect on the fall’s elections – something that advocates are hoping will push wavering Republicans into voting for it. The DISCLOSE Act was passed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gave corporations approval to spend as much money as they want to defeat or elect candidates. The act would require disclosure of which companies are behind ads and fliers.

Database now available of corporate political spending policies

New York City’s public advocate Bill de Blasio has created a database of the country’s largest corporations as well as their spending policies. Companies range from Apple and Alcoa to Kraft and Merck. De Blasio is urging people to demand that companies refrain from spending corporate money on politics. So far, the list of companies that have said they won’t spend on elections is really short.

Conservative group launches campaign ads in 11 states

The right-wing Americans for Prosperity Foundation launched a $4.1 million ad campaign this week in 11 states. The group is targeting the most competitive races but is not naming candidates; instead, it attacks Washington policies. The group is expected to keep buying ads right up until voters go to the polls. Who is paying for this? That information is not public. Many would argue this is why Congress should pass the DISCLOSE Act.

Democratic governors call for disclaimer on Fox

The Democratic Governors Association is calling on Fox News to run a disclaimer every time it reports on any gubernatorial races. The request comes in response to news that Fox’s parent corporation, News Corp., gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. A representative from the Dems’ association said that if Fox doesn’t issue such a disclaimer, the company should take its money back.

State Supreme Court election spending has doubled

The amount spent on state Supreme Court races has more than doubled in the past decade, according to a new report. Just $83.3 million was spent on state Supreme Court races between 1990 and 1999; that number skyrocketed to $206.9 million between 2000 and 2009. The report comes from the Justice at Stake Campaign, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Researchers found that “deep-pocketed special interests” play an outsized role in who wins judicial races.

Target still mopping up the mess

Target is still doing damage control after being, well, targeted for giving money to a group backing an anti-gay candidate for Minnesota governor. Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, which spent some of the money on an ad for Tom Emmer, who opposes gay equality. After protests were staged at stores throughout the country, Target apologized. The Human Rights Campaign had asked Target to donate another $150,000 to gay candidates; Target considered it but this week said it is refraining from more political spending for the time being.

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