Scott Brown (R-Mass) deals the death blow to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)’s campaign finance bill the Disclose Act ( H.R. 5175, the “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE Act)), which passed the House by a narrow margin last month after objections were raised about the exemption of groups like the NRA and unions. By refusing to vote for the Disclosure Act, Brown is ensuring that our elections can be bought by special interests and big corporate powers without any fingerprints. Meaning that groups like, um, FreedomWorks can influence elections masquerading as grassroots movements, when in fact, they are funded by very interested corporate parties. FreedomWorks, doubling as a grass roots movement for the Tea Party, gave quite a pretty penny to old Scooter.
Back during the special election that got Scott Brown elected, Think Progress reported:
“The Wall Street front group FreedomWorks is mobilizing get out the vote efforts for Brown this weekend. FreedomWorks organized the very first tea party protests, and has used its extensive staff and resources to mobilize rallies and advocacy campaigns on behalf of corporate interests. Dick Armey, who as a corporate lobbyist represented AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch during the bailout, is the leader of FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks is also funded and chaired by Steve Forbes and Frank Sands of Sands Capital Management.”
His stated (i.e., claimed) reasons for rejecting the campaign finance reform?
“”Rather than reform our campaign finance laws and provide increased transparency, the DISCLOSE Act advances the political agenda of the majority party and special interests in an effort to gain a tactical and political advantage little more than 100 days before an election,” Brown wrote.”
Hahahaha. The Disclose Act, which was created in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, would ban campaign spending by corporations that have significant foreign ownerships and corporations that have received federal bailout money and force disclosure of corporate money behind groups like, oh, I dunno….Freedom Works.
On the broader issue of campaign finance reform, it seems neither party is too keen on really changing the system. But only one Party allows their votes to be bought consistently (just take a look at who votes for the Wall Street reform package for proof of this), to the detriment of the American people. At least the Democrats seem to feel some need to pretend they are for it, which opens the door for the people to possibly, in a perfect world, pressure them into it. That’s not to suggest that Democrats don’t take money from corporate interests; they do. We all know this. But this specific bill is about disclosing the source of money. That certainly seems like something people can get behind, unless they have something to hide.
The National Journal reports:
“Brown’s support was seen as crucial to the bill’s success. The DISCLOSE Act, sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), passed the House by a narrow margin last month, but chief Senate sponsor Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been unable to find a GOP partner for the bill. Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid has promised floor time for the bill before the Aug. recess, but without Brown’s vote it faces dim prospects.
Finance reform advocates at the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters and Public Citizen sent Brown a letter last week urging his support for the bill. So far, Schumer hasn’t been able to win over Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) or Susan Collins (R-ME), 2 other Dem targets that have supported new campaign finance reforms in the past.
The DISCLOSE Act was crafted as a response to Citizens United v. FEC, the Jan. Supreme Court decision that allowed new spending by corporations and unions on political elections by striking down key elements of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. In his letter, Brown said the response measure and McCain-Feingold had 2 very different aims.”
The only chance we have to get the Democratic Party back in line with the people is campaign finance reform. Otherwise, in order to compete with the Republicans, they have to kowtow to big business just to get elected. Just look at Chuck Schumer whom the Center for Responsive Politics report is the No. 2 recipient of lobbyist contributions so far this election. Of course, if the Democrats somehow managed to get campaign finance reform passed, there’s a slim possibility that the People might actually be represented once again, which would make the Democrats very popular indeed.
But let’s not get lost in phony baloney- the real reason why Brown is not voting for the Disclosure Act is that he was funded by such Faux populist groups as FreedomWorks. In other words, the current system is working for Brown.
Brown all but admitted this when he said, “The DISCLOSE Act … changes the rules in the middle of the game to provide a tactical advantage to the majority party.”
What is that “tactical advantage”? Well, to be fair, big business is objecting that the Bill does not exempt the Unions, while it does exempt big business. They argue that the first amendment rights of large entities are being stepped on; that there is no legitimate justification for privileging the speech of large entities. This is the part where we take a step back to recall that the Republicans are anti-union, which translates to anti-labor rights. And since the majority of Americans are…well, labor, and unions –with all of their faults — are the backbone of America’s balance of power between Power and the People, this means that once again, the Republican Party is confessing to being the Party of Big Business. Of Power. And confessing that they would like to hide the influence of their corporate masters under the phony guise of faux populist groups like FreedomWorks.
Scott Brown was supposedly the Tea Party’s one claim to fame (although we all know he wasn’t the real Tea Party candidate, but hey, this just proves how the Tea Party stands for nothing because he is clearly not a Tea Party-esque official). It’s more than ironic that the Tea Party claims to stand for the people and be against the “bail outs” and Big Government, but they clearly have no problem allowing our Democracy to be controlled by Wall Street in disguise. That’s just creepy.
Big business buying votes; that’s “small government” Republican Style. And if we need to see what this buys, we only need look to the Gulf Oil Spill for confirmation that it’s bad for America and bad for the “little people” that these phony populist groups purport to be.
Scott Brown might be breaking with his party over financial reform, after all, he knows what the people want to see from him. But he is standing firmly behind the real monster under the beds of the American people; the disguised corporate take over of our electoral process.