The Chronicles of Money, Politics, and Election 2012: The Year of the Billionaire?
Here's a recap of Public Campaign and Public Campaign Action Fund's (PCAF) work from January 20 through March 9, 2011.
- Keystone co-opt? The Senate voted yesterday on an amendment that would have fast-tracked the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Supporters of the amendment raked in a huge amount of Big Oil campaign cash. The measure was defeated, but Big Oil money made it very close. And earlier this year, 44 Senators wrote a letter to Pres. Obama urging him to go forward with the Keystone pipeline. Not surpringly, they got a whole lot of Big Oil money.
- Courting his base? Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney heads to NYC next week to raise money the constituency he's most popular with--Forbes 400 1%ers. This Wall Street money grab comes a day after primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, places where I'm guessing Romney wouldn't find too many of his 1% supporters.
- Attack of the Super PACs!!! Strong Fair Elections Now Act supporter, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), wrote this week in the Huffington Post how billionaire-funded super PACs are taking over our democracy. And the super PAC spending numbers from Super Tuesday illustrate Rep. Sarbanes point. Sarbanes also appeared on the Chris Hayes show last month discussing the topic.
- Romney a slut for coal money??? Given his, ahem, less than forceful response to Rush Limbaugh's hateful words last week, one would think that Mitt Romney is more or less on board with the use of four letter words. Well, not when it's "coal." And not when he's gotten so much campaign cash from the coal industry.
- "Connect the drops." Public Campaign ran an ad last week in Rep. Scott Tipton's (R-Colo.) district, informing his constituents of all the Big Oil money he's received, and his consistent support for wasteful taxpayer oil subsidies. Here's some media coverage of the ad. That isn't the end of Tipton's issues.
- The new normal. President Obama recently reached his 100th fundraiser for this election cycle. Given the fastly rising cost of running for office, this kind of fundraising will continue from the President all the way down to Congress.
- Democracy is for rich people, my friends. Mitt Romney would just assume strike down all campaign finance regulations and let millionaires and billionaires give as much as they want to candidates. And with "friends" like these, can you blame him? Romney is seeking to be president, and to apparently redefine tone def.
- New York LEADing the way. The campaign for Fair Elections in New York state got a boost late last month from prominent members of the business community. This came not long after 27 members of the New York City Council sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo showing their support for the Fair Elections effort.
- Well, that's a cute little workaround, isn't it. Turns out that 84% of donors to the Mitt Romney-aligned super PAC, Restore Our Future, have also given the maximum amount to his campaign.
- Big money v. democracy and Montana v. Supreme Court. Here's an editorial memo from PCAF detailing the rise of the individual wealth funding the super PACs, and what the developments in Montana might mean for our democracy. And one of those billionaire funders, Sheldon Adelson, a true champion of campaign finance reform (is there a sarcasm emoticon???), claims that he's “against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections.” Well, Sheldon, do something about it.
- "Politicians here...get your politicians here!" PCAF's David Donnelly responded to an absurd New York Times article entitled: “A Better Way to Buy Politicians.” This sounds crazy, but we don't think politicians should be bought in any way, shape, or form.
- It's only a conflict of interest when the other guys do it. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) sent a letter to President Obama raising questions about the possible conflict of interest coming from the decision to allow cabinet secretaries like Kathleen Sebelius to appear at events held by the Obama-aligned super PAC and attended by the committee’s big donors. He has a point, but he does the same thing every day.
- People power triumphs over private prison money in Florida. Led by faith leaders, a plan to privatize Florida's prisons was defeated last month.
- For Romney, there's always room for lobbyists. Public Campaign Action Fund's David Donnelly was in The New York Times last month discussing the prevelance of lobbyists in the campaign of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
- Just another day at the office for Rep. Jeb Hensarling. Take Wall Street money. Check! Bash Wall Street reform. Check!
- Right on! Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) speaks out against the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and advocates for the Fair Elections Now Act.
- Taking stock of Congress' ties to the security and investment industry. With the passage of the STOCK ACT last month, our friends at MapLight.org detail security and investment donations to members of Congress.
- A problem this big requires some presidential muscle. Public Campaign issued this press release urging President Obama to provide a muscular plan to save our ailing democracy.
- Oh, how we pity these poor billionaires. Freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) went to bat for the Koch brothers, his top donor.
- Maine became the first state in the nation to adopt a Clean Elections law. This op-ed shows just why it's so valuable.
- Mitt Romney (R-1%). HE says it all.
- Up is down. PCAF responded to Karl Rove, whose PAC, Crossroads GPS criticized “an economic ecosystem where participants are rewarded not for what they know, but for who they know; a lucrative spoils system.” In a memo, they call Washington “a financially hollow economy” built on “business deals pushed by political donors and lobbyists.”
- A pirate's bounty. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and his leadership PAC received at least $45,250 in contributions from supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the last three months of 2011, according to preliminary analysis of newly-released FEC filings by Public Campaign Action Fund.
- Newt Gingrich's super PAC isn't only the one benefitting from the Adelson family fortune. House Speaker Boehner has seen some love too.
- In late January, PCAF lauded the agreement between Massachusetts candidates, Sen. Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D), to limit the influence of outside money.
- One small step, but much more is needed. After President Obama's State of the Union address, Public Campaign offered this response.
- Speaking of small...sometimes it is better. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, on the anniversary of Citizens United, called for empowering small donors.
- In late January, New York Times columnist laid out a platform that presidential candidates should run on, and noted how the game is rigged by big money.
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