Archive for June 11th, 2010

For those of you keeping score at home, it’s now Citizens United 2, Democracy 0. The Federal Election Commission voted 4-1 Thursday to give Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group based in Virginia, an exemption to campaign finance requirements. If you remember, in January, Citizens United won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that gave corporations the right to spend an unlimited amount of money to influence our elections.

However, that court victory came with an *asterisk. Citizens United, and other corporations, could spend the dough but they would still have to disclose where their money was coming from i.e. the names of its donors, and how it was spending its money. As I blogged in April, Citizens United argued that since it produced “documentary” films, it should be considered a media company and exempt from disclosure requirements. This is the case for companies such as the New York Times, Washington Post and FOX News etc, which can produce opinion pieces about candidates and issues without having to fill out campaign finance forms.

SCOTUSblog has more about the FEC’s decision.

Yesterday evening I met with a financial advisor from a large financial company. The meeting was going well and I was ready to sign on for much-needed financial advice until we started discussing the agreement.

First, he told me that the agreement was not a contract. I quickly corrected him and explained that they were one and the same. Then I started flipping through the three-page document. Lo and behold, there it was, in bold: an arbitration clause AND a statement claiming that there is no agreement to enter into any class action arbitration.

I explained to him in my excitable way that I wouldn’t sign the document, explained to him what the arbitration clause meant and its impact on consumers. He was shocked. In a very brief moment he removed the professional mask and showed that he was appalled by the provision’s meaning. I told him about the need to support the Arbitration Fairness Act in Congress. He asked if it would eliminate arbitration. I explained that it wouldn’t – but it would make it voluntary, rather than forced.

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