Less than a week after President Obama and other Democrats slammed the Supreme Court’s decision to discard portions of campaign finance legislation, 12 Senators spent the weekend in sunny Miami with 108 high-dollar lobbyists.
In President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, he suggested ending the perpetual campaign mode of Washington. Of course, he’s one of the biggest participants, and sent out an e-mail last night asking you to contribute $15 a month, since he can’t do it alone.
By now you are probably familiar with Representative Alan Grayson (D. Fl.). He is the person who, among other oddities, and, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, continues to proclaim that 45,000 people die every year because they lack health insurance. And the same fellow that filed a complaint with the Attorney General demanding fines and jail time for a central Florida woman who started a web site entitled “my congressman is nuts“. Grayson’s web site is “congressman with guts.”
It seems that now, he has taken it upon himself to introduce not one, not two, but six different bills in the House seeking to overturn last Thursday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That was the case that held that a federal law prohibiting corporations from using general treasury funds for campaign contributions was an unconstitutional denial of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. According to Grayson, that decision is,
a direct threat to our democracy.
Funny, in all my years as an attorney, I’ve never heard another attorney refer to freedom of speech as a threat to democracy. Personally, I always thought that the absence of free speech was the threat.
Grayson has given the catchy title “Businesses Should Mind Their own Business Act” to one of the six.
That bill would impose a 500 percent excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees or any expenditures on political-advocacy campaigns. [emphasis supplied]
Of course, unions would be exempt.
Another bill would prohibit companies that make political contributions from trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and a third would prohibit corporations that receive federal money from donating to any political cause. The other three are even more bizarre.
I know Grayson’s bio says he is a law school graduate, but I’m wondering if maybe he was out sick when the First Amendment was discussed. Or, when it was explained that Congress can’t overrule a Supreme Court decision that was based upon the Constitution, only an amendment to the Constitution can do that.
When providing donations to politicians or political committees, you are required to provide your name, address, occupation and employer if you are contributing $200 or more. This information has been a frequent topic for news organization and blogs the last couple of years.
Information provided is passed to state and federal agencies who make the information available in a variety of formats. The information is used to generate cool looking graphs and online databases that allow anyone to research who donated to candidates and political committees.
Above, I found the one person in a Connecticut town contributed $100 in opposition to California’s Proposition 8 in about one minute. The person chose none for employer but by law, committees must ask the question.
So, how is this information being used and is it a good idea? (Remember this post?)
Today, we learn AIG-FP CEO Joseph Cassano sent an e-mail to employees to encourage them to contribute the maximum amount to Chris Dodd for his re-election campaign. Click on the image to read the e-mail, Cassano asks the employees wives to contribute as well!
These employees knew that this information would be available online within days of contributing so Cassano could check up on the request. Or was it a demand?
When you visit OpenSecrets.org and read that AIG contributed $98,100 to Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in 2008, it is important to understand that this money did not come from AIG the corporation, rather PACs that represent AIG, employees of AIG, and immediate family members of employees.
Did you read that? Once again, from the OpenSecrets.org Web site…
This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2008 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
So when you read articles like this ABC News piece, what do you think?
AIG employees kept doling out donations to politicians, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, after getting bailed out with federal funds last year, raising the question of whether those politicians will now return the money.
Exit question: Is the media trying to spin these donations to imply they are coming from AIG – and other corporations – instead of individual employees that work at these corporations?
Do you realize that if you are an entry level administrative assistant or janitor who works for AIG, your personal contributions – and those of your immediate family – are being associated with “AIG” contributions?
Exit question #2: If a solution is needed, what is it?
What say you?
As late as February politicians were still taking campaign contributions from TARP recipients. (click the image below for the story).
While the AIG bonus fiasco was unraveling, politicians and the media whipped our population into a frenzy, demonstrating once again how easily some (if not most) Americans can be manipulated through fear and anger to adopt whatever stance they are told to take. Critical thought be damned.
Even though this bonus money was .01% of the money that has been distributed, politicians crowed “It’s not about the amount of money, it is about the principle.”
For all of you who were so easily whipped into the frenzy over AIG, how about whipping up a little frenzy toward your politicians who are STILL taking political contributions from companies that took TARP money. Where is the anger and the outrage? Where are the bus tours of the politicians homes? Where is this populist uprising now? The amounts may seem small ($5k here and $5k there), but they are taking taxpayer money, and remember … it’s the principle.
Click the image for an NBC report on politicians that are still taking donations from TARP recipients.
A few months ago I took one for the team and subscribed to e-mail alerts from the Obama campaign and family. It was so nice to get personal e-mails from Michelle reminding me I only had until midnight to donate to the campaign for a chance to have a front row seat to history on election night. Goody.
Anyway, yesterday I got an e-mail from David Plouffe, campaign manager for Obama. He asked for all of us to donate directly to the Democrat National Committee since they are broke.