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Money & Democracy Update: 2011 FEC filing insights, STOCK Act moves forward while California lawmakers fight sunshine?!

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • 1626.7 percent: The percentage by which the volume of ads paid for by outside groups has increased since the 2008 presidential race
  • 1281.8 percent: The percentage by which outside group spending on ads has increased since the 2008 presidential race

Senate bans congressional insider trading; House vote is next

Congressional insider trading is one step closer to being"Public Citizen Money and Democracy" banned. The U.S. Senate this week approved a bill to ban it; now it heads to the U.S. House of Representatives. President Barack Obama says he will sign it. The bill has been in the works for years but gained traction recently when “60 Minutes” highlighted the need for it. Public Citizen, which has pushed for the measure for years, is urging its passage. Tell Congress to pass the STOCK Act.

Super PAC reports are in to the FEC

Jan. 31 marked the deadline for many Super PACs to tell the Federal Election Commission who their donors are. (A caveat: Some reported getting money from generic-sounding corporations housed at a P.O. box, so the information is not complete.) What did we learn? That the casino mogul who is pouring money into a pro-Newt Gingrich group gave five times more than all other donors to Gingrich’s Super PAC combined. And that millionaires and billionaires are having a huge amount of sway over the presidential election process. And that the Karl Rove-backed groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS raised $51 million last year.

More sunshine? Not in California

With all the news about the true sources of Super PAC donations being kept secret, and how damaging that is to democracy, you’d think that a bill to shed more light on the process would do well — especially in California. Not so much. Legislation that would have required the names and corporate logos of the top funders of ads, as well as other information, was killed this week.

And the award for the most secretive corporation goes to…

Google, Amazon, Walmart, Bank of America and CVS Caremark are among the 18 most secretive corporations when it comes to revealing the money they spend on politics, according to a new report by the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending. Oh, the 18 companies named have received well over a billion in federal contracts since 2010.

Revolving door pads lawmakers’ pockets

Seven former lawmakers have done it, and it’s one of the worst examples of the revolving door problem in Washington. What did they do? When in Congress, they steered money toward certain organizations. When they left Congress, they went to work for those organizations … lobbying their former colleagues in Congress and receiving $1.9 million combined for their troubles. This according to a new report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Yes, it’s legal.

Dollars and Cents (even more news bites):

… New Mexico’s House of Representatives has approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

… Want to know more about the man who is largely bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s presidential run? Read a profile here

… Maine’s system of publicly financing elections is working well. Read about it in one unlikely lawmaker’s words

… A Tennessee lawmaker has introduced a bill to weaken lobbying laws in that state. Yes, we said weaken …

… It may be a joke, but it’s raising real money. Comedian Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC has raised $1 million. “How you like me now, FEC? I’m rolling seven digits deep!” Colbert wrote in his filing to the Federal Election Commission …

… A majority of Americans say Citizens United has negatively affected elections, Pew Research Council poll shows

Visit DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more about how YOU can fight back against the Citizens United vs. FEC ruling and the negative effects of unregulated corporate donations on our elections!

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