Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Colbert Super PAC’

Thousands of Americans may be unwittingly donating to political causes and candidates they do not support in the 2012 election. It’s not an elaborate scam; it’s a consequence of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which gave the green light for corporations to make unlimited political contributions. The decision was based on the court’s alternate reality where unlimited cash (so long as it isn’t “coordinated” with campaigns or candidates), does not corrupt, and as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert proved, the term “coordinated” actually means whatever you want it to mean.

Flickr photo by watchingfrogsboil

So how are Americans getting duped?

When publicly traded companies spend directly from their treasuries, they are not spending their own money, they’re spending shareholders’ money. And since more than half of American households own stock, chances are high that this election season, a lot of Americans will be supporting causes and candidates they haven’t even heard of, let alone want to support with a political contribution.

For instance, take 3M Corp., a company famous in Minnesota and nation-wide for scotch tape, sandpaper, and Post-its. 3M does not disclose contributions to trade organizations or faux nonprofit organizations like Crossroads GPS that play in elections. In 2010 3M contributed $100,000 from its treasury to MN Forward, a group supporting a candidate for governor who held controversial views on social issues.

Whether or not you agree with those views, corporations are organized to create profit, not to choose governors. Shareholders can choose on their own whether to spend money to support political candidates, but corporations should not be using their money to make the decision for them.

Thankfully, shareholders are rallying around the country to demand transparency from corporations that spend money in politics. Socially responsible investment groups have filed resolutions at hundreds of companies asking them to disclose the money they are spending to influence elections. Investors are gathering at shareholder meetings to support the cause, and in some cases asking companies to go a step further and refrain from spending money altogether.

Furthermore, a proposed SEC rulemaking requiring corporations to disclose political expenditures to shareholders has logged more than 260,000 comments supporting the measure. That’s more than any other SEC rulemaking has ever received.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • 1626.7 percent: The percentage by which the volume of ads paid for by outside groups has increased since the 2008 presidential race
  • 1281.8 percent: The percentage by which outside group spending on ads has increased since the 2008 presidential race

Senate bans congressional insider trading; House vote is next
Congressional insider trading is one step closer to being"Public Citizen Money and Democracy" banned. The U.S. Senate this week approved a bill to ban it; now it heads to the U.S. House of Representatives. President Barack Obama says he will sign it. The bill has been in the works for years but gained traction recently when “60 Minutes” highlighted the need for it. Public Citizen, which has pushed for the measure for years, is urging its passage. Tell Congress to pass the STOCK Act.

Super PAC reports are in to the FEC
Jan. 31 marked the deadline for many Super PACs to tell the Federal Election Commission who their donors are. (A caveat: Some reported getting money from generic-sounding corporations housed at a P.O. box, so the information is not complete.) What did we learn? That the casino mogul who is pouring money into a pro-Newt Gingrich group gave five times more than all other donors to Gingrich’s Super PAC combined. And that millionaires and billionaires are having a huge amount of sway over the presidential election process. And that the Karl Rove-backed groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS raised $51 million last year.

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