Posts Tagged ‘Netroots Nation’

"Rachel Lewis" "CitVox"

Citizen Vox (voice), the official blog of Public Citizen. Keeping it real offline AND online.

Exhausted but inspired, I returned to D.C. from Netroots Nation grateful to have connected with some wonderful progressive bloggers and activists (and that I was not flying United). Now, the all-important question . . . what to do with all these buttons and QR codes? Kidding. The all important question in my mind is how do we achieve synergy within the movement?

One theme that came up again and again  no matter what panel I was attending or person I was chatting with at Public Citizen’s booth or at a bar: Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission. That’s the U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave corporations First Amendment rights and in essence said “money is speech,”undoing a century’s worth of campaign finance jurisprudence and giving corporations the ability to give unlimited sums to sway elections, thus launching a new juggernaut of spending in American elections.

As the new media coordinator here at Public Citizen, I deal with a wide variety of issues. Whether I am getting  up to speed on our government colluding with Big Pharma, blogging about frackaholics or tweeting the latest observations on Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, one thing is clear: No matter our differences, we have to stand up to corporate power and reclaim our democracy.

In the panel entitled, “The Corporate Court,” Slate blogger Dahlia Litwick said:  “The Supreme Court has been trimming, cutting and cramping the notion of who can have access to the courts.” Public Citizen witnessed this with AT&T v. Concepcion, the case in which the court said that companies could immunize themselves from class actions by inserting clauses in consumer contracts (those pages of fine print that you get when you buy a computer or download software). Lithwick also noted the Roberts court has been increasingly putting caps on damages and nipping discovery.

On the legislative side, I returned to D.C. to find out that last week the U.S. House of Representatives incorporated language into the defense authorization bill designed to block the president from issuing an executive order that would require companies vying for government contracts to disclose their political contributions. Yet, Americans from across the political spectrum disagree with the idea of pay-to-play politics and are incredibly frustrated by corporations having increasing sway over government while the public is in the dark about just how much money Big Business is funneling to their members of Congress.

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

  • $35 million: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s net worth
  • $9.9 million: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s net worth
  • $3.7 million: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s net worth
  • $2.1 million: House Speaker John Boehner’s net worth

Government contractors used to disclose their donors, Public Citizen says
While critics have said that President Barack Obama’s proposed disclosure executive order would politicize government contracting, contractors in fact have long given substantial sums to campaign coffers, nearly all of which had been disclosed until recently, Public Citizen said in a letter sent this week to Obama. Public Citizen urged the president to promptly sign his proposed executive order that would make companies vying for government contracts disclose their campaign contributions. Tell Obama to sign the executive order.

FEC stalls on disclosure
Speaking of disclosing campaign contributions, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) failed to reach a consensus on whether independent groups should have to disclose their political donations. The bipartisan agency again reached a deadlock because neither side of the six-member commission would cross party lines. “I’ve never seen an FEC this bad before,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told Bloomberg.

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