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Businesses Pan SuperPACs

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How money affects politics - Ben Franklin and ClockThe Committee for Economic Development, a broad coalition of businesses from every business sector, has published their new report on money’s influence in politics. Here is an excerpt from their release:

Hidden Money: The Need for Transparency in Political Finance

The CED reports warn that the rollback of campaign spending and transparency reforms (strengthened in the wake of Watergate) presents a serious threat to jobs and the economy, public faith in the corporate sector, and the vitality of our democratic institutions. During the 2010 election, the first after the Citizens United decision, it is estimated that some $600 million was spent on independent political campaigns, a significant portion of which came from unknown sources. That figure is expected to skyrocket during the 2012 presidential election.

“A secret flow of hundreds of millions of dollars from companies to campaigns is bad for business’s reputation, bad for innovation, bad for job growth, and bad for our democracy,” said CED President Charles Kolb. “Corporate America can take the lead in the corporate campaign spending crisis by sending one message to every business, big and small: ‘Don’t Give, But If You Do, Disclose.'”

The three reports, After Citizens United, Improving Accountability in Political Finance; Hidden Money: The Need for Transparency in Political Finance; and Partial Justice: The Peril of Judicial Elections, make several recommendations:

Don’t Give – But If You Do, Disclose: Simply put, corporations should not contribute to third party groups. If they do, they should make contributions public and subject to board approval and oversight.

Return Democracy to the People: A robust public financing system that provides a multiple dollar public match on low-dollar donations would restore faith in democracy.

Ensure Transparency: Congress should reform laws to include disclosure of electioneering activities, including non-broadcast communications, voter registration and voter turnout expenditures that are not covered by existing regulations.

Judicial Integrity: States should end the election of judges and adopt a non-partisan, independent, commission-based system for recruiting, reviewing and recommending appointees for judgeships.

I watched their latest meeting on money influencing politics on C-SPAN last week. It’s available for viewing on the CED website along with downloads of the final reports.

As of today there are 149 SuperPACs – and more are being formed every day – that receive unlimited secret donations. It’s estimated that somewhere close to $2 billion will be spent on the 2012 elections, with most of that money coming from SuperPACs and other outside organizations. That money will affect who gets elected (72% of those with the largest campaign fund get elected) and what legislation gets written and passed. It allows rent-seeking – the buying of favorable legislation and tax subsidies rather than creating competitive value for customers and shareholders. And it perverts our democratic republic.

We must push to get money out of politics.

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Written by Valerie Curl

October 5, 2011 at 2:27 PM

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