Archive for the ‘Money & Democracy Update’ Category

By Rachel Curley

sunset-powerlines-prettyYesterday 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.

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"Public Citizen Money and Democracy"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.

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"Public Citizen Money and Democracy"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.

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

$36,380: The amount that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney and the Super PAC supporting him spent on advertising per delegate won on Super Tuesday

In Vermont, Super Tuesday meant Super Momentum
In Vermont, Super Tuesday showed that momentum is growing rapidly for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates of corporate cash in elections. More than 60 towns and cities supported a resolution for an amendment.

Speaking of resolutions …
Expect support for a constitutional amendment to grow throughout the spring. Public Citizen, joined by other good government groups, this week launched Resolutions Week. The campaign is designed to get cities throughout the country to pass resolutions early in June. Already, 2,500 activists have signed up to help get resolutions passed in their towns. To get involved, visit

Maybe the IRS can do something about undisclosed spending
Six U.S. senators are asking the IRS to make sure that tax-exempt organizations aren’t abusing the tax code. Less than half an exempt organization’s activities should be devoted to politics, the lawmakers said. Watchdog groups also are calling on the IRS to make sure that overtly political groups aren’t violating tax laws, which already require that spending can’t be substantial, which the watchdogs say means much less than half. The IRS is, in fact, looking into some groups.

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

$9.4 million: Amount the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) gave to nonprofit groups in 2010, including some that bought ads to influence the midterm elections
$4.5 million: Amount PhRMA gave in 2010 to American Action Network, a conservative group
$26 million: Amount American Action spent on ads in the midterms

Super PAC Tuesday coming
Voters in early primary states have already been flooded with negative ads, much of them paid for with corporate money. With Super Tuesday coming up early next week, voters in 10 more states are being exposed to the torrent of corporate-funded negativity. To promote long-term solutions, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign is joining forces with our allies and concerned citizens like you. We’re re-branding next week’s contests with the sadly accurate hashtag #SuperPACTuesday. In the long-term, we’ll be using the hash #Democracy4Sale. Learn more here. Follow @RuleByUs on Twitter and lend your creativity to the effort!

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