Beginning shortly before noon on Wednesday and continuing until Thursday afternoon, Democrats in the House of Representatives occupied the House chamber floor for 26 hours in a sit-in to push for a vote on bills that would put tighter restrictions on the purchase of firearms. As one side interrupted normal procedure with an historic action, and the other brazenly moved to an early recess, the House was the very picture of the partisanship and inefficiency that has repeatedly plagued our nation’s capital. And underlying this entire spectacle was another grim reminder of the massive influence of money in subverting the wishes of the people in our politics.
85% of respondents to a new CNN/ORC poll supported “preventing people who are on the U.S. government’s Terrorist Watchlist or no-fly list from owning guns.” Previous polls have shown that the vast majority of gun owners support increased background checks. Despite this overwhelming support, House Republicans have declined to even schedule a vote. Now why might we see such a failure of elected representatives to follow the will of the people? There’s a simple answer: money.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is just one of many lobbying groups with deep pockets and a network of wealthy donors that are overpowering the voice of the American public with millions of dollars’ worth of ads and campaign funding. According to Open Secrets, in 2014 the NRA spent $974,152 on political contributions, $3,360,000 on lobbying and $27,024,618 on outside contributions, such as running ads directly from the NRA.
By Rachel Curley
Yesterday the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) and the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) released a report detailing which of America’s top 25 investor owned utility companies are choosing to adapt to the changing business landscape as a result of climate change and which are not.
The report, titled The Top 25 U.S. Electric Utilities: Climate Change, Corporate Governance and Politics shows that while some utility companies are taking steps to change their business practices to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, others are digging in their heels and going so far as to spend heavily in politics and engage in litigation to protect the status quo.
“Rather than changing the energy mix or seeking innovation that can reduce capital costs, some utilities are deploying their resources toward court battles and political influence,” says IRRCi’s Executive Director, Jon Lukomnik.
This report aims to be a resource for investors looking to know more about a certain company’s policies regarding climate change and for companies to see how they stack up against their peers. The 117- page report uses 12 metrics to measure each company’s climate change orientation including but not limited to potential legal liability, political activity spending and public policy position disclosure, corporate political activity governance, and litigation.
Stunning Statistics of the Week
$3 billion: The estimated amount that media companies and their local stations will receive for running political ads this year
It’s not too late to launch a drive for a resolution in your town!
Activists across the country are hosting organizing parties next week to spearhead efforts in their cities and towns to pass local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which gave the green light for corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. Join the campaign! Sign up now to find an organizing party in your area. Or, if there is no organizing party in your area, host one yourself.
Taking it to the SEC
It’s not often that you see a rally outside the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it happened this week. Representatives from Public Citizen, Common Cause and the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending joined New York City’s public advocate Bill de Blasio in gathering outside the agency to demand that it require publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. More than 75,000 people have submitted comments to the SEC on the matter.
Amendment resolutions advance in New York, Alaska and Santa Monica
A resolution supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United is advancing through the New York Legislature. The New York Assembly’s Election Law Committee this week gave its seal of approval. In addition, the Alaska Senate recently approved a similar resolution. The city of Santa Monica has approved a resolution as well.
Stunning Statistics of the Week:
- $310 million: Amount that the three main GOP presidential contenders had raised by this point in the 2008 race
- $146 million: The amount that GOP presidential candidates have raised for the 2012 race
- $145 million: The amount President Barack Obama has raised so far for his 2012 campaign
Help pass a resolution in your town
Join the growing movement to pass local resolutions for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said corporations could spend unlimited sums to influence elections. Already, more than 4,300 people have signed up. Click here to get involved. And give three cheers to Tampa’s City Council, which on Thursday passed a resolution unanimously.
Meanwhile, in Vermont and California …
State resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment are progressing through the Vermont and California Legislatures. Key hearings and votes are scheduled for next Tuesday. Learn more information about the resolutions.
The power of Super PACs
Super PACs paid for 91 percent of the 5,592 ads that ran in Mississippi and Alabama in the month before the GOP presidential primaries there, according to a company that tracks ads. Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, bought 65 percent of the ads that ran in the two states.