The corporate march to buy candidates directly continues unabated, but today the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from William P. Danielczyk Jr. and Eugene R. Biagi, who claimed that the ban of direct contributions violates corporations’ free-speech rights. I call that buying candidates directly, because that is the goal as evidenced in the fact that the candidates they back shill for ridiculous policies that benefit corporations over people.
From the AP:
A federal judge agreed with them, but the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned that decision. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision struck down a prohibition against corporate spending on campaign activities by independent groups but left untouched the ban on direct contributions to candidates.
The judge said independent expenditures and direct contributions were both political speech, but the appeals court said they must be regulated differently.
The justices will not review that decision.
Not to worry, we are assured that the justices will hear a complaint from a man who thinks he should be allowed to give as much money as he wants to Republican candidates. It should come as no surprise that in the last election cycle, the Republican (Romney) raised only 13% of his money from donations under $200, whereas the Democrat (Obama) raised 53% from donations under $200. If the rich want to keep their stranglehold on our government, they need to be able to use their money to overpower the money of the people.
However, the President is turning his brilliant campaign organization into a social welfare group — a national advocacy group called Organizing for Action, which will be funded in much the same way as the Super PACs and not subjected to the same scrutiny as a campaign organization.
Yes, it’s the not the equivalent of having those folks run your campaign (he’s already been elected, hello), and contrary to efforts to suggest otherwise, it does not automatically mean policy is bought. For example, in this case, Obama is using this organization to advance the policies he ran on and won on. But it demonstrates that even those who don’t want to play this game feel they have to in order to push for policy and influence. It’s also evidence that we are moving in the wrong direction as a country. For $500,000, you can have access to the President through this new advocacy group, although lobbyists and PACs are not allowed to donate.
They hope this group will be a powerful lobbying organization; the only difference is that it will be lobbying for the policies that the majority of the people actually want. That matters, and it’s quite different from the agenda of the Koch brothers.
The New York Times reports:
The goal is to harness those resources in support of Mr. Obama’s second-term policy priorities, including efforts to curb gun violence and climate change and overhaul immigration procedures. Those efforts began Friday, when thousands of Obama supporters were deployed through more than 80 Congressional districts around the country to rally outside lawmakers’ offices, hold vigils and bombard Congress with e-mails and phone calls urging members to support stricter background checks for gun buyers.
No doubt the Republicans/corporations are terrified by the idea of real people deployed in their own service, behind a real cause that many Americans feel passionately about. This is a brilliant of Obama, especially given his failure to take his case to the people in his first term. It could lead to some real change on issues that most presume are DOA. Obama has to do this if he hopes to advance his policy agenda precisely because he is fighting big money lies. Irony.
But it also opens the door for influence peddling. It’s ironic and very wrong and yet predictable that it takes money to fight money. So we come to the age old question, do the ends justify the means?
No matter your answer to that question, we have also inevitably come to this: If you want to be heard by the people, you have to buy amplifiers and have the money to be organized (see the Koch Brothers via the phony “grassroots” Tea Party circa 2010). How are the people supposed to know whose policies benefit them and which organizations are really grassroots? Oh, reading. Not an American past time, I’m afraid.
So goes another day in the corporatization of your democracy. And while I disagree strongly that corporations have a right to free political speech via contributions to campaign activities as well as direct contributions, I have to wonder if these “people” missed the utter failure of their attempt to buy the 2012 elections.
Sure, the country can’t count on having a strong candidate like Barack Obama in every election – someone whose campaign can counter the endless lies dark money can sell. But on the other hand, why not let these “people” go broke facing a free market like they’ve never had to face before. The power of the people is strong thanks to the lie busting power of the Internet.
Go ahead, “people”. Make our day.
Update: Obama’s organization clarified their position to Huffington Post after the New York Times article: “OFA was founded to support the president’s agenda and the engine of this organization is and will continue to be our grassroots engagement and support. Unlike some other issue-based groups, we have voluntarily elected to disclose all donors and will refuse donations from federally registered lobbyists. Supporters have shown interest in taking a part in OFA because they believe in the president’s agenda. No one has been promised access to the president.”
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.