Money & Democracy Update: See effects of $$ in politics for yourself

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount political parties and outside groups have spent on ads this election season: $150 million
  • Amount political parties and outside groups spent on ads at this point in 2006: $109 million
  • Percent of those ads this election season that have been negative: nearly 80 percent
  • Source here.

Video highlights effects on real people of money in politics

A new video from FairElectionsNow.org features real people describing in their own words the profound impact of corporate corruption in Washington. The video shows how big agriculture, corporate coal and BP play the money game to make government work for them – not the American public. As long as members of Congress must rely on donations from corporations and lobbyists to fund their campaigns, wealthy corporate interests will continue to have an outsized role in crafting national policies.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: Three members of Congress still in hot water with ethics committee

Enough evidence of wrongdoing exists to continue investigating the link between fundraising events and votes made by three members of Congress, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics. The office is recommending further investigation of three members of the House of Representatives who held fundraisers just days before casting votes on financial reform legislation. The three are Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.). Five other members were cleared.

Texans rally against U.S. Supreme Court ruling

Despite a heat index of 104 degrees, folks in Texas rallied recently against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the door for unlimited corporate spending to influence elections. Watch the video here.

Two groups try to block PAC request to raise unlimited bucks

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 are urging the Federal Election Commission (FEC) not to grant a request by a political action committee (PAC) to be allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money for independent expenditures. The National Defense PAC says the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling supports its position. However, the Campaign Legal Center counters that the court has explicitly said that PACs are subject to contribution limits and the Citizens United ruling doesn’t change that.

FEC addresses coordination between candidates and interest groups

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has issued new rules addressing the sticky issue of coordination between interest groups and candidates. This is a hot topic among campaign finance wonks because if a candidate does coordinate with groups, FEC rules regarding contribution limits and other matters kick in. The commission said that any ads containing the “functional equivalent of express advocacy” for or against a congressional candidate should be subject to campaign finance restrictions. But the new rules, which don’t take effect until after November’s elections, don’t clear things up much, some say. Look for more litigation over this issue.

Bopp strikes again, challenges Hawaii’s campaign finance restrictions

James Bopp Jr., who was involved in the Citizens United suit and who is making a career of challenging campaign finance rules throughout the country, is at it again. He has filed a lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s campaign finance rules, which ban political donations by state and county contractors, require corporations to register as PACs before making donations and limit donations from PACs, among other things.

Dems to IRS: Right-wing group is breaking tax law

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity Foundation is breaking tax law. The group has been running ads in the key election states of Kansas, Missouri and Michigan. The Democrats say the ads are political in nature, which is a no-no under the group’s 501(c)3tax status. Americans for Prosperity denies the charge.

New report: Conservative groups to spend $400 million on elections

Conservative groups will spend $400 million on elections to advance the conservative agenda this year, according to a new report from ThinkProgress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. That’s more than the Democratic campaign committees spent when they took back both houses of Congress in the last midterm election. The top three spenders are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($75 million), American Crossroads ($52 million) and Americans for Prosperity ($45).

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