Money & Democracy Update: Downturn? What downturn?

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount candidates for state and federal office spent on ads for the November elections to date: $395 million
  • Amount candidates for state and federal office spent on ads at this point in the 2006 midterms: $286 million
  • Percentage of the ads this election season that have been negative: More than 50 percent
  • Source here.

Downturn? What downturn?

Spending on political ads is expected to reach a record $4.2 billion this election season. You heard it right. That would be double what was spent two years ago during a presidential campaign year.

Patty Murray being attacked – but by whom?

Attack ads have started running against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) by something called the Committee for Truth in Politics. Trouble is, no one knows who is funding this group. (This underscores the need for the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would require funders of ads to be named.) What we do know: The group is represented by James Bopp Jr., the anti-campaign finance reform attorney who was involved in the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which resulted in the court giving corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections case. Bopp has brought other lawsuits to try to overturn campaign finance laws.

Judge upholds most Maine rules governing PACs

A federal judge has upheld most of the state’s reporting requirements governing political action committees. The judge said that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, the state may regulate corporate political speech with disclosure laws. However, the judge said that some language in Maine’s rules is unconstitutionally vague.

American Crossroads plans to spend $10 million on elections

American Crossroads, a new conservative group whose founders include Republican strategist Karl Rove, said plans it to spend more than $10 million to get out the vote in November. The group is targeting eight key states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire and Washington.

New Yorker magazine details political influence of wealthy Koch brothers

New Yorker magazine writer Jane Mayer details the political donations and subsequent influence of the billionaire Koch brothers, who are using their money to stop efforts to enact laws designed to combat climate change, among other things. (Koch Industries has been called one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States.) The lifelong libertarians have given more than a $100 million dollars to right-wing causes.

Want to get out of jury duty? Just say you support Public Citizen!

In one of the most startling and biased jury surveys we have ever seen, the federal district court of D.C. is identifying “good government” people for possible disqualification from jury service in the Kevin Ring corruption scandal case.

More Target fallout: Wash U cancels event with company

In the wake of a national controversy over a political donation made by Target, Washington University in St. Louis has cancelled an event it had planned with the company. Called the Target After Hours Shopping Event, it was to feature Target keeping stores open after hours and giving transportation to the stores to college freshmen who could shop and be eligible for prizes. Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, whose support of a conservative, anti-gay gubernatorial candidate led to protests and boycotts throughout the country.

527 groups are legal money launderers, Florida gubernatorial candidate says

Bud Chiles, an Independent candidate for Florida governor, called reporters to a spot outside the office of a Tampa accountant and said he was at the site of “legal money laundering.” The accountant works for more than three dozen 527 committees; in Florida, the 527 groups have taken in $21.7 million, most of that from corporations and industry groups, to back or defeat candidates. Under Florida law, the political spending committees, known as 527s for the section of the tax code that makes them tax-exempt, must report contributions and spending on the web within five days. But Chiles says they should have to disclose the names of donors of $500 and more on every television ad and mailer they distribute. Chiles says he won’t take any 527 money.

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