Monday, June 29, 2015

President Obama on a roll: don't stop now ... by gimleteye

Last week was a very good week for the Obama presidency. Without saying so, the New York Times editorial board encouraged the President to forge forward: now, with an executive order to force dark money campaign contributors out into the open.

Current campaign finance practices are so disgraceful that even the chairman of the Federal Election Commission despairs that its role is useless.

Unsurprisingly, the Republican majority in Congress has thrown up one roadblock after another to prevent the public from peering inside the operations of crony capitalists.

President Obama can't single-handedly reform the campaign finance system -- that would require a cooperative Congress -- but by executive order he can give voters a window into the degree and depth of influence peddling and the shakedowns that have overtaken democracy.

The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

Dark Money’s Deepening Power

President Obama is reported to be considering an important brake on the torrent of “dark money” already flooding the 2016 presidential campaign — an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their donations to political candidates. Mr. Obama should immediately sign such an order. In doing so he would expose some of the bigger players in today’s big money politics, while offering a healthy counterpoint to Republican efforts to squelch disclosure.

In votes earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee’s Republican majority quietly inserted an amendment in a spending bill that would block the Securities and Exchange Commission from crafting a rule requiring public companies to open up to their stockholders and voters about their political spending.

Another amendment would stop the Internal Revenue Service from issuing an overdue rule reining in “social welfare” organizations that do not have to disclose donors under current I.R.S. rules and are increasingly misused as big-money conduits for partisan political activity. A third would protect government contractors from disclosing who they’re showering with money.

When it blessed unlimited corporate, union and special interest spending in its fatally misguided Citizens United decision five years ago, the Supreme Court expressed hope that public disclosure would deter corruption. Sunlight, said Justice Anthony Kennedy, would let citizens “see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”

Republicans are working to deny even this protection, as dark money contributions boom, much if it from deep-pocketed donors whose anonymity is protected by the social welfare shells. Dark money in Senate elections, which figured heavily in the Republican majority victory, more than doubled between 2010 and 2014 to $226 million, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The winners in the 11 most competitive Senate races netted more than $131 million in dark money.

The president has no time to waste if he is to block Congress and shed some light on next year’s elections. He should make clear, too, that he will not accept any of the House’s anti-disclosure assaults if they are included in the bargaining over final spending legislation later this year.


Anonymous said...

This is a great start. I'm sure there will be some push back. The right wing is adamantly against public unions (and private too) contributing to political campaigns. Even though it is not true, they like to say that obligatory union dues are donated to political action. Federal law precludes union dues being contributed to political committees. A union member must choose to donate to the political action fund of their respective union. It is separate from dues.

Meanwhile, private corporations have few obstacles to influence elections and votes.

The President should go further in this initiative. ANY private corporation, whether publicly traded or not, that does business with the federal government, should be required to report all political donations as well as salaries of executives.

The right has engaged in a rather successful campaign against public employees. Meanwhile, the righties are shifting TAX dollars to private corporations with salaries and benefits that far surpass those of public employees.

Anonymous said...

If I was the election czar I would only have public money in campaigns. The money would be paid to various print and electronic media to cover debates of which there would be plenty. That's it! Candidates would
have to state on the record their positions and the media would have to give equal coverage of the
facts stated and they could check the facts.
Steve Hagen

Candida Albicans said...

Hey Steve good luck getting anyone to watch those debates. Who would check the facts the folks at FOX or MSNBC? Equal Coverage to EVERYONE that decides to run even the Lyndon Larouche's and Gus Hall's of the world? How long would it take and could viewers stay awake that long or want to? Better not have that many debates either all that hot air will definitely accelerate global warming. You'll end up upsetting Genius.