Archive for February 24th, 2012

"Public Citizen Money and Democracy"Stunning Statistics of the Week

$100 million: The amount billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson said he may give to support Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, or another candidate
$11 million: The amount he and his wife already have given to support Gingrich
$25 billion: Adelson’s net worth
0.044 percent – The percentage of Adelson’s fortune that $11 million represents

SEC commissioner calls for disclosure of corporate political spending
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now receptive to Public Citizen’s call to require publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. At a Friday conference, “SEC Speaks,” Securities and Exchange Commissioner Luis Aguilar loudly championed the key reform of political spending disclosure, saying that “investors are not receiving adequate disclosure, and as the investor’s advocate, the commission should act swiftly to rectify the situation.”

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is getting with the times and is now receptive to Public Citizen’s push to require publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. At today’s conference, “SEC Speaks,” Securities "Lisa Gilbert"and Exchange Commissioner Luis Aguilar loudly championed the key reform of political spending disclosure, saying that “investors are not receiving adequate disclosure, and as the investor’s advocate, the commission should act swiftly to rectify the situation.”

Aguilar’s message is pitch-perfect.

Corporations generate massive profits, in part because of investments by their shareholders. And corporations’ new license to spend – a gift in the form of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – could have real consequences to investors.

The idea that U.S. corporations can make unlimited political expenditures without giving its shareholders any knowledge of the spending is both anti-democratic and bad for the market.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Citizens United incorrectly assumed that comprehensive disclosure requirements were already on the books. For publicly traded companies, the SEC can and should close this gap.

Lisa Gilbert is the deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. Follow her @Lisa_PubCitizen and @CorporateReform for the latest on issues like this!

The Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, just two years old, is suddenly back on the docket with a slight chance (though it’s far from likely) of a do-over. Also returning to the scene of the crime yesterday for a “flash rally” were a number of the organizations that turned out citizens by the thousands nationwide on the decision’s 2-year anniversary just a month ago, demanding a constitutional amendment to take back free and fair elections for We the People.

Both the context and the stakes epitomize the reasons why the story of Citizens United is also the Story of Broke— and the story of the stark choice between a corrupted political system that props up a “dinosaur economy” no longer serving our needs, and the path toward a sustainable and truly people-powered democratic future.

The judicial fight over Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act of 1912 is a fitting battleground. Banning corporate political expenditures and contributions not made through a regulated political-action committee, the law was a direct response to the “Copper Kings,” mining interests that came to gradually control and corrupt the state’s politics (eventually outright buying a U.S. Senate seat).

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