Tag Archives: elections

Never Mind Super PACs: How Big Business Is Buying the Election

2 Sep

Though much media attention has been heaped on Super PACs—the new political action committees that can take unlimited contributions from nearly any source, such as Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Future—they haven’t caught fire within corporate America owing to their monthly (in some cases, quarterly) disclosure requirements. Most donations to Super PACs are from wealthy individuals, such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, making them not so different from the so-called 527 groups that proliferated in the immediate wake of McCain-Feingold. Among the eight largest Super PACs active during the Republican presidential primaries, 86 percent of their funding came from individuals, not corporations.

The real tsunami in corporate spending has come from nonprofits, in particular trade associations, which are classified as 501(c)(6) organizations under the tax code and are virtually fully funded by corporate cash. In 2010, 501(c)(6) trade associations and 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy groups outspent Super PACs $141 million to $65 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics.

After Citizens United, trade associations quickly moved to augment their traditional PAC spending with secret corporate cash. Take the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the pharmaceutical industry’s trade association. In 2008, PhRMA spent less than $200,000 on federal elections, using only money bundled from transparent individual contributions, mostly from drug company executives. The following election cycle, after Citizens United, PhRMA spent $10.36 million on federal elections, 98 percent of it from undisclosed corporate sources.

Likewise, the shift allowed the National Association of Realtors, already a heavy hitter when it came to PAC spending, to unleash an additional $1.1 million on federal elections from undisclosed real estate companies in 2010.

“What Citizens United has done, it has wholesale changed the landscape,” said Stefan Passantino, a partner at the law and lobbying firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge and a former Newt Gingrich campaign adviser. He was addressing a seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, on corporate political engagement in the 2012 election cycle. He recounted advising one corporate client on how to “engage in an issue where we’re not popular,” in this case to preserve certain tax loopholes. Passantino said businesses have enormous new opportunities for influencing elections without being detected. “We gotta keep our corporate logo out of the bull’s-eye,” he added.

via Never Mind Super PACs: How Big Business Is Buying the Election.

Occupy! and Make Them Do It | The Nation

19 Mar

Protest movements raise the sharp and divisive issues that vague rhetoric is intended to obscure and avoid, and the urgency and militancy of the movement—with its marches, rallies, strikes and sit-ins—breaks the monopoly on political communication otherwise held by politicians and the media. Politicians trying to hold together unwieldy majorities and their big money backers strive to avoid divisive issues except in the haziest rhetorical terms. But movements—with the dramatic spectacles they create and the institutional disruptions they can cause—make that much harder. Movements work against politicians because they galvanize and polarize voters and threaten to cleave the majorities and wealthy backers that politicians work to hold together. But that doesn’t mean that movements are not involved with electoral politics. To the contrary, the great victories that have been won in the past were won precisely because politicians were driven to make choices in the form of policy concessions that would win back some voters, even at the cost of losing others.

via Occupy! and Make Them Do It | The Nation.

Moscow Protests Continue Week Before Russians Vote on Putin – NYTimes.com

26 Feb

Are these Russinas setting  an example for Americans? Do they care about their government’s future more than we care about ours?

The Kremlin has been shaken by the recent emergence of the protest movement among middle-class Muscovites, who only a few months ago were considered to be largely politically indifferent. But tens of thousands have braved subzero temperatures, occasional arrests and the loss of weekend shopping time to attend boisterous protests against Mr. Putin’s rule.

On Sunday, amid slush-clogged streets and a steady snow, a carnival atmosphere prevailed, with vendors handing out free hot tea and pancakes to mark the last day before the beginning of Orthodox Lent.

via Moscow Protests Continue Week Before Russians Vote on Putin – NYTimes.com.