Tag Archives: Campaign Finance

With Election Just 4 Months Away, FEC Essentially Defunct as GOP Member Leaves for Koch-Funded Group

The White House announced it would nominate Allen Dickerson, a proponent of Citizens United, to the elections board

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-26-2020

After 10 months, the Federal Elections Commission in May regained a quorum with the confirmation of Republican appointee Trey Trainor—and promptly lost it just over five weeks later on Friday when commissioner Caroline Hunter resigned to join the Koch-funded group Stand Together, leaving the regulatory body again essentially powerless as the November general election draws closer.

“The FEC’s brief period of functioning appears to be over,” tweeted Public Integrity reporter Carrie Levine. Continue reading

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Leading US Retirees ‘Like Lambs to the Slaughter,’ Trump Labor Dept. Quietly Offers Up 401k Plans to Private Equity Vultures

“Private equity firms will now be allowed to access—and skim fees off of—the $9 trillion in 100 million workers’ 401(k) plans and IRAs.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-16-2020

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of Blackstone, at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo; World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

With the American public’s attention consumed by the Covid-19 pandemic and mass protests against police brutality, the U.S. Labor Department earlier this month quietly gave corporate sponsors of retirement plans something they’ve been agitating over for years: a government green light to invest workers’ savings into funds managed by notoriously predatory private equity firms.

The move, announced on June 3 by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, allows large managers of 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to put workers’ retirement savings into private equity investments that offer the possibility of huge returns—and devastating losses. Continue reading

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Trump-Connected Fossil Fuel Companies Permitted to Delay Payments of $56 Million in Pollution Fines During Pandemic

“People are struggling to find rent money for next month, but thank god the Trump administration is providing relief for the millions these poor, vulnerable corporate polluters owe.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-27-20220

The Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Xcel Energy and located in Becker, Minnesota, shown in 2016. (Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr/cc)

Corporations with close ties to Trump administration officials are among 10 companies being permitted to delay payments of millions of dollars in fines for pollution they caused, according to The Guardian and government watchdog Accountable.US.

The companies had agreed to pay a collective total of $56 million in civil penalties for contributing to pollution in communities across the country, but they were informed in April by the Department of Justice that they can pause their payments during the pandemic. Continue reading

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‘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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