Tag Archives: Campaign Finance

‘Historic’ Alaska Ruling Could Provide Roadmap to Defeating Citizens United

“This decision gives Alaskans and all Americans a chance to revisit those destructive decisions.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-5-2019

A case in Alaska could go to the U.S. Supreme Court and possibly overturn Citizens United. (Photo: Joe Ravi/cc)

A ruling in a court in Alaska Monday could open the door to imposing more restrictions on super PACs and possibly reversing the infamous 2012 Citizens United by the U.S. Supreme Court that in 2012 upended the nation’s campaign finance laws.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge William F. Morse ordered the state to impose limits on donations to political groups in Alaska, saying in the ruling (pdf) that the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), which handles election enforcement, “should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue.” The decision is expected to head to the Alaska Supreme Court. Continue reading

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You’d be better off lighting your money on fire than giving it to a politician to spend on TV ads

Hillary Clinton may have lost to Donald Trump because she bought the wrong kind of ads. AP/David Goldman

Liberty Vittert, Washington University in St Louis

Alright, you want to make this country a better place for yourself, your children and the many generations to come. So you make a donation to a political candidate you believe will fight for a better country.

But, in reality, you are wasting your money. Here’s why.

Television has long been the golden goose of political advertising. The conventional wisdom is that the candidate who can spend the most on it will most likely win. Continue reading

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No African American has won statewide office in Mississippi in 129 years – here’s why

People waited outside the Supreme Court in 2013 to listen to the Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder voting rights case. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

John A. Tures, Lagrange College

Mississippi is home to the highest percentage of African Americans of any state in the country.

And yet, Mississippi hasn’t elected an African American candidate to statewide office since 1890.

That’s 129 years. Continue reading

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Think Dishonest Politics and Dark Money Elections Bad Now? Court Ruling Opens Floodgates for ‘Scam PACs’

The ruling, said one expert, “will embolden scam PACs to trade on the names of candidates to raise money for their own ends from unknowing citizens.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-22-2019

“This is unfortunate. It will lead to confusion in the political marketplace. It provides a wide opening for scam PACs to exploit,” FEC chair Ellen Weintraub said of the ruling.. Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr

A federal judge on Thursday struck down FEC regulations barring unauthorized political action committees from using a candidate’s name to mislead voters and attract donations, a ruling critics warned could lead to the proliferation of “scam PACs.”

Paul S. Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation with Common Cause, said the ruling “will embolden scam PACs to trade on the names of candidates to raise money for their own ends from unknowing citizens.” Continue reading

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In Step Toward Ending Dark-Money Elections, Court to Review Case That Created Super PACs

“We need to put ‘We the People’ back in charge, and that starts by closing the gaping super PAC loophole that has allowed dark money to overwhelm our elections.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-1-2019

“Super PACs weren’t created by Congress, or the U.S. Supreme Court—they were created by a lower court decision, based on faulty assumptions, that has never been reviewed or revisited,” said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech For People. Photo: Massachusetts Cop Block/flickr

In what could be a pivotal ruling, a district court decision on Thursday has set the stage for a review of the case that spawned the recent era of lavish and secretive spending by big-money super PACs in local and national campaigns.

In response, proponents of campaign finance reform expressed confidence that they are one step closer to getting a major source of corporate dark money out of U.S. elections. Continue reading

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‘No-Brainer for Anyone Who Actually Cares About American Democracy’: House Democrats’ HR 1 Praised as Real Plan to Drain the Swamp

“It’s time to unrig our broken political system. Our political leaders have been most responsive to the interests of their wealthy donors for too long while the needs of normal Americans go unaddressed.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-4-2018

Unlike President Donald Trump’s campaign trail vow to “drain the swamp” that never came to fruition—in fact, he has somehow managed to make Washington even swampier—House Democrats on Friday officially introduced sweeping legislation that progressives celebrated as a plan to actually confront the deep-seated corruption that has long pervaded the American political system.

Formally titled the For the People Act—or H.R. 1—and sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the far-reaching bill would promote public financing of elections, reduce the influence of corporate dark money, strengthen ethics and financial disclosure rules, and bolster voting rights, which are under severe attack from the Republican Party, the Trump White House, and the right-wing Supreme Court. Continue reading

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With Power to Kneecap Bold Demand, Incoming Democratic Tax Committee Chair Says Medicare for All ‘Not Realistic’

“Two decades of generous donations apparently gets you a powerful congressman willing to throw up roadblocks in front of universal healthcare.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2018

Ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speaks during a news conference on Republican plans to end the state and local tax deduction, on Capitol Hill, October 12, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Photo: C-SPAN screenshot

As progressive House Democrats strategize and push for a vote on Medicare for All legislation as soon as possible, surging congressional and grassroots momentum for single-payer could soon run into a serious obstacle in the form of incoming Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who has denounced Medicare for All as “not realistic” and will soon be in a position to tank healthcare plans that are unacceptable to his insurance industry donors.

“Neal will have near total control over what tax-related policies come to the House floor, including legislation that would create a Medicare for All healthcare system,” noted investigative reporter Eoin Higgins in a piece for Sludge on Wednesday. “Having Neal at the helm of the committee, rather than a more progressive member, makes it much less likely that the House of Representatives will vote on universal healthcare measures.” Continue reading

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‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’: Prominent Group ‘End Citizens United’ Called Out for Backing Democrats Drowning in Corporate Cash

“If their organization only supported candidates who firmly pledged no PAC money, their contributions could breathe much-needed life into grassroots campaigns. Instead it looks more like an intentional obfuscation.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-5-2018

At first glance, the prominent political action committee End Citizens United (ECU) appears to be dedicated to channeling widespread grassroots anger at corporate money in politics into promoting candidates who reject cash from big business and support bold campaign finance reform.

But a closer look at the candidates ECU endorses and funds reveals that the organization frequently uses its vast resources to reinforce the poisonous status quo. Continue reading

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What Facebook’s New Political Ad System Misses

Facebook announced a new system to make political ads more transparent. It’s got holes.

By Jeremy B. MerrillAriana Tobin, and Madeleine Varner. Published 5-24-2018 by ProPublica.

Screenshot: Bloomberg

Facebook’s long-awaited change in how it handles political advertisements is only a first step toward addressing a problem intrinsic to a social network built on the viral sharing of user posts.

The company’s approach, a searchable database of political ads and their sponsors, depends on the company’s ability to sort through huge quantities of ads and identify which ones are political. Facebook is betting that a combination of voluntary disclosure and review by both people and automated systems will close a vulnerability that was famously exploited by Russian meddlers in the 2016 election.

The company is doubling down on tactics that so far have not prevented the proliferation of hate-filled posts or ads that use Facebook’s capability to target ads particular groups. Continue reading

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Recognizing Powerful Interests Running the Joint, More Than 75% of Americans Back Campaign Finance Reform

“Let’s turn opinion into action by overturning #CitizensUnited and enacting public financing of elections nationwide,” says Public Citizen in response to new Pew survey.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-27-2018

New findings from the Pew Research Center reveal widespread support for campaign finance reform. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Amidst a widely-shared recognition that the country is effectively being run by powerful special interests, a new poll out Friday shows that more than 3 out of 4 Americans now support serious campaign finance reform as a way to mitigate the corrupting influence of money in the nation’s democracy.

The results of the extensive Pew Research Center survey, released Thursday, reveal Americans “see the country falling well short in living up to” democratic ideals and values, and believe core changes are needed in the political system. Continue reading

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