On our last webinar we delved into the ins-and-outs of organizations that spend money to influence elections without disclosing their donors, or as we like to call them, dark money groups.
Check it out below!
This webinar gets to the heart of the recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) “scandal” and what you can do to help root out organizations that are gaming the rules. The confusion around the existing IRS rules has allowed groups willing pour millions into manipulating elections to do so freely, while smaller groups dedicated to civic engagement have waited on the sidelines, too afraid to participate in our democracy as fully as they are allowed.
Public Citizen’s Bright Lines Project has been working for years to resolve dark money abuses and these IRS proposed rules will finally begin to tackle this huge roadblock to our democracy Thanks to the 25,000 Public Citizen supporters who took action to tell the government to shine a light on dark money groups, the IRS received a record response from individuals calling for meaningful reforms.
In the coming weeks, Congress will be moving forward with hearings to discuss the goings-on at the IRS, and we’ll be there to let you know about upcoming opportunities to get involved.
If you haven’t yet watched the webinar, check it out and get up to speed. Then stay tuned!
On NBC’s Meet The Press, viewers this past weekend were treated to the spectacle of a climate change “debate” featuring TV personality Bill Nye, who is wonderful at explaining scientific concepts to children (and presumably would do the same to those who willfully ignore or deny that climate change is happening) against Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) who is one of the most prominent climate change deniers in Congress.
Leading up to the show, NBC was rightly scolded by environmental activists for ensuring a slanted debate against climate change by picking Bill Nye instead of a forceful climate change hawk in Congress, such as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) — who heads the leading Senate committee on environmental issues — or retiring Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) who has an unparalleled record on the environment and climate change. Any one of those would have been a far more appropriate and obvious selection if NBC wanted an equal debate.
Unfortunately, what the viewing public got were the same old talking points questioning the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is happening and reinforcing the notion that there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.
As a proud Michigan State University (MSU) alumna, I was thrilled to hear that today President Obama is signing the Farm Bill on the college’s campus. MSU is also the alma mater of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who served as Chair of the Conference Committee that was tasked with hashing out the differences between the Senate- and House-passed versions of the legislation and ensuring its eventual passage.
The media has reported mainly on what made it into the Farm Bill, the omnibus legislation that doles out funding for the nation’s food program, such as cuts to SNAP foodstamp program, country of origin food labeling, alterations to crop subsidies and conservation programs, and other changes. What they haven’t made hay about, though, is the behind-the-scenes battle that was waged over the public’s right to obtain information about the pollution from agricultural and livestock operations like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
Among the eye-popping numbers, the average contribution to the U.S. Chamber was $111,254, with the top 43 entities combining to donate $80.4 million. The smallest 781 donors together gave about two-thirds of the $12.2 million given by the largest two donors. The Chamber had 1,523 donations for $179.4 million, while its affiliated Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) had 96 donations for $43.6 million – an average of $454,110 each.
These numbers create as many questions as they answer. Who gave $7.2 million to the U.S. Chamber, and what did they get out of it? What do 548 entities giving between $5,000 and $10,000 to the Chamber get when other corporations are giving much more? What does the Chamber do when their interests conflict? Is $10,000, the most commonly given amount, the cost of membership? If so, does that negate the Chamber’s claim to “[represent] the interests of more than 3 million businesses,” as it claims on its website?
During the presentation, we introduced some of Public Citizen’s tax policy priorities for the coming year and detailed how these policies can help to create a more equitable economy.
Check out a recording of the presentation here:
Two of our biggest priorities for the coming year will be growing revenue by shutting down international tax havens and closing other corporate tax loopholes.
We highlighted a new piece of legislation introduced just this week by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). His bill, the Stop Subsidizing Multi-Million Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act (H.R. 3970), would close a loophole that allows corporations to deduct “performance-based pay” of more than $1 million dollars from their taxes.