Archive for the ‘Campaign Finance’ Category

People are taking action across the country to mark the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that corporate political spending is the same thing as real speech by real people.

Left unchecked, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling will have grave consequences for our democracy. In last fall’s elections, corporate spending soared, and sources of outside spending were kept secret. This outside money was a major factor in 80 percent of the races where power changed hands.

Now, any lawmaker who is interested in standing against corporate interests has to figure out how to say ‘no’ to corporate lobbyists wielding the resources to replace him or her with a more corporate-friendly lawmaker.

But We, the People are mobilizing to fight back.

From Massachusetts to Oregon, Florida to Alaska, more than 100 demonstrations are being held throughout the nation.
Even a group of socially conscious business corporations, led by Ben & Jerry’s, is standing up to assert that we need a constitutional amendment to stop the corporate takeover of our democracy.

Nearly a million concerned citizens have signed petitions calling on Congress to pass such a constitutional amendment — petitions that will be delivered to Congress at noon today (Public Citizen’s petition is at

If you’re participating in today’s actions, be sure to take pictures, make videos, blog and tweet about what you’re doing. You can share your photos, videos and other documentation with us by sending an email to, sending a tweet to @Public_Citizen or posting it on our Facebook page.

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Just because the Bush administration is out doesn’t mean the battle with the corporate lobbying machine is over. This week has been a busy one for Public Citizen and our efforts to fight for reforms that benefit the American public. Check out these news highlights.

CQ Politics quotes Public Citizen’s campaign finance reform lobbyist in an excellent piece about Senate Finance chairman Max Baucus (D-Mon) going fishing for dollars at a $2,500 per person fundraising event.

“It’s unseemly to be doing this just before the markup,” said [Public Citizen’s Craig] Holman, referring to pending committee action on Baucus’ draft health care bill. “This kind of schmoozing of lawmakers clearly buys influence. This kind of event clearly shows why we need public financing.”

The Associated Press called on Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s energy program director, to comment on the oil industry’s amped-up effort to lobby, baby, lobby; already, Big Oil has spent $44.5 million trying to get Congress to see things its way. Time to fight back.

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Our report on the fundraising efforts of the Presidential Inaugural Committee was quoted extensively by bloggers and media outlets. David D. Kirkpatrick cited it in his piece today in The New York Times:

But inaugural planners say that staging their own exclusive show to reward top fund-raisers was necessary to pay for the even grander spectacle they are presenting to the public, given the novel fund-raising restrictions Mr. Obama imposed on the committee. Unlike any previous president-elect, he refused contributions from corporations, unions or lobbyists, and capped individual donations at $50,000 instead of allowing $250,000 or more.

That forced planners to depend far more on inaugural “bundlers” like Mr. Sacca, people who tapped rich networks of friends and associates to collect up to $300,000 each, another limit Mr. Obama set. Of the $41 million raised by the committee, more than 70 percent came from just 211 “bundlers,” according to the watchdog Public Citizen.

Politico’s Kenneth Vogel quoted Public Citizen ethics expert Craig Holman for his story about donors footing the inaugural bill:

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An email I received today from President-elect Obama reminds me that his upcoming inauguration isn’t about him, “It’s about all of us.” As a proud American, I plan to enjoy the festivities and savor the historical moment but I’m also keeping in mind that the big celebration is being bought and paid for by Corporate America.

A new Public Citizen analysis shows that 80 percent of the $35.3 million in contributions to the Presidential Inaugural Committee have been raised by just 211 fundraisers, who collect and bundle together checks from their colleagues and associates. Many of these “bundlers” were people who raised money for Obama’s campaign, as well.

Remember that Obama made a big deal about not accepting corporate donations to his inauguration. That stand against corporate influence loses some of its luster when you consider that the inaugural committee is accepting individual contributions of up to $50,000 and bundled amounts of up to $300,000. And who can afford to write a check for $50K or has the connections to raise $300K with a few phone calls? Well, a lot of Wall Street types, for starters.

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