Corporate Cash Secretly Funneled to Extremist Tea Party Candidates Who Want to Outlaw Abortion -- Even Contraception
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What's the connection between the personhood of a fertilized egg and the personhood of corporations?
Both can and will undermine the fundamental rights of women.
On January 21st of this year, perhaps in some cosmically ironic sense a day before the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court handed down a decision on the Citizens United case.
In the 5 to 4 opinion, the Court held that:
Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast.
Corporations can take money, funnel money, and use money to their political advantage in campaigns for U.S. elected offices and...they do not have to disclose a dime.
Critics have decried the decision as a threat to democracy. Citizens United, according to Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, "upended decades of precedent and nearly a century of settled law to hold that corporate campaign spending limits violate the First Amendment."
Now, during the first election under the decision, Waldman says, " Citizens United has loosed a tide of massive—and alarmingly sneaky—spending. For all the Tea Party hubbub, this election's major factor could be cold, anonymous cash."
[M]uch of [that cash comes] through front groups, cutouts, and nonprofits, without disclosing who is paying the bill. Money talks, but refuses to leave its name. Target routed its controversial funding [to an anti-gay group] through the blandly named MN Forward. In West Virginia, mining executives are setting up "527 groups" (which can delay disclosure until after November 2) to help elect coal-friendly candidates. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which does not disclose its backers, has pledged to spend $75 million in the midterm elections.
Moreover, he notes, the anonymous funding vastly favors the GOP. No shocker there.
ThinkProgress recently published several investigative reports on the election activities of the Chamber of Commerce, including its foreign fundraising operation. The first report found that "The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project."
A subsequent report published last week found that the Chamber has taken in $885,000 from foreign countries and corporations, including 84 foreign companies, the names of the majority of which the Chamber refused to disclose voluntarily. Nonetheless, ThinkProgress put together this list, which includes a large number of companies based in India and Bahrain.
The Chamber's take from these donors has vastly increased its ability to influence elections. ThinkProgress states:
The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.