Published: Friday 19 October 2012
“In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.”

 

By now most folks know that the U.S. Supreme Court did something that changed how money can be spent in elections and by whom, but what happened and why should you care?

The Citizens United ruling, released in January 2010, tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.

In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.

The decision did not affect contributions. It is still illegal for companies and labor unions to give money directly to candidates for federal office. The court said that because these funds were not being spent in coordination with a campaign, they “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

So if the decision was about spending, why has so much been written about contributions? Like seven and eight-figure donations from people like casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson who, with his family, has given about $40 million to so-called “super PACs,” formed in the wake of the decision?

For that, we need to look at another court case — SpeechNow.org v. FEC. The lower-court case used the Citizens United case as precedent when it said that limits on contributions to groups that make independent expenditures are unconstitutional.

And that’s what led to the creation of the super PACs, which act as shadow political parties. They accept unlimited donations from billionaires, corporations ...

Published: Friday 3 August 2012
“Though the new system is far from perfect, it will likely give the public and journalists a new window into how an expected few billion dollars are spent on political ads on local television this election cycle.”

 

After a bruising months-long fight between media corporations and the Federal Communications Commission, a government website came online today that will feature political ad data from television stations around the country.

This means that detailed files about political advertising — which show who is buying political ads, how much they are paying, and when the ads are running, among other information — will finally be available online. In the past, those interested in the files, which are by law public, had to travel to stations to get physical copies.

Though the new system is far from perfect, it will likely give the public and journalists a new window into how an expected few billion dollars are spent on political ads on local television this election cycle.

For now, only the affiliates of the top four broadcast networks in the top 50 markets will have to upload their political files to the FCC site. (The Sunlight Foundation has a map of the missing markets here.) All broadcasters will have to start complying in July 2014.  And the rule is not retroactive for political ad data — so the site will only have information on political ad buys going forward.

The FCC requires broadcasters to ...

Published: Thursday 24 May 2012
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch told ThinkProgress today that Gov. Rick Scott is currently involved in a massive effort to purge up to 180,000 from the voting rolls.

 

Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D) told ThinkProgress today that Gov. Rick Scott was engaging in a “blatant attempt to supress voter turnout.” Scott is currently involved in a massive effort to purge up to 180,000 from the voting rolls. The list, purportedly of non-citizens, has proven unreliable. Earlier this week, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport.

Congressman Deutch said that his office has heard from several constituents who have recieved a voting ineligibility letter in error. In light of these errors, Deutch will soon send a letter to Scott demanding the purge be immediatly suspended. An excerpt:

It is out of grave concern that we write to ask for the immediate suspension of the Florida ...

Published: Thursday 29 March 2012
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has put together a “Budget for All” that “puts Americans back to work, charts a path to responsible deficit reduction, enhances our economic competitiveness, rebuilds the middle class and invests in our future.”

Every progressive should know about the Congressional Progressive Caucus's "Budget for All." In fact, every American should know about this budget. But the corporate news media sure isn't going to tell people. So you should help get the word out. Read and Share the One-Page Handout. Email this post to friends, relatives, and especially to your right-wing brother-in-law.

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Published: Friday 24 February 2012
Restore Our Future fundraiser Steve Roche received $1.9 million in fees from super PAC

A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney has paid one of the Republican candidate’s veteran fundraisers a fee of $1.9 million for his work during a period when the super PAC raised about $24 million, according to new FEC filings.

The fee went to Podium Capital Group — a company that the super PAC’s treasurer said is Steve Roche’s. Roche is the top fundraiser for the principal outside group — "Restore Our Future" — that’s backing Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Charlie Spies, the treasurer of the super PAC, confirmed in a telephone interview with iWatch News that Podium Capital is “Roche’s company.”

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Published: Saturday 11 February 2012
Conservative lawyers dismiss threat of foreign money, anonymous political spending at CPAC.

Anonymous political speech. Foreign money in U.S. elections. The proliferation of super PACs. How grave a threat do any of things pose to American democracy? Not much, according to a panel of conservative attorneys, who gathered Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

The high-profile legal minds on the CPAC panel largely agreed that the changes to the campaign finance landscape are grounds for celebration.

Thanks to the Citizens United decision, we’ve seen “more voices, more competition, and more accountability,” said panelist Benjamin Barr, a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank.

“Without SpeechNow.org, the Republican nomination would have been sewed up ...

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