Category Archives: Funding

Campaigns For Sale — The Highest Bidder Wins

Since the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United, it has been so interesting to see how our campaign finance has changed. We now have candidates who are being funded by just a handful of people. We have Newt Gingrich who would not be in the GOP primary race right now if it wasn’t for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his family funding his super PAC. Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $18 million in the last half of 2011 from just 200 donors, and over $30 million throughout 2011. Jon Huntsman’S super PAC received over 70% of its funding from his father, Huntsman, Sr.  

Despite your party affiliation, this should be upsetting to you. These very few 0.5 percenters in our country are not giving this money to these candidates because they feel charitable. You have to ask yourself, if they do manage to get their candidate elected, what will they want. 

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are two of the biggest spenders for the Republican party. Despite their attempts to stay in the shadows and not draw attention to themselves, they have been making a lot of news in the last few years (most notably for their creation of the tea party movement). Last weekend they hosted a three-day conference in Coachella Valley in which several hundred deep-pocketed donors attended. Among the most notable attendees were Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sheldon Adelson. At the end of the event, the Koch brothers and their guests had promised to pledge $100 million in order to defeat President Obama.   

Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote about the Kochs and their supporters. 

Though the Kochs have already stamped their influence on the American right, their impact to date looks like small beer compared with their ambitious plans for 2012. According to Kenneth Vogel of Politico, the brothers intend to use their leverage among billionaire conservatives to pump more than $200m into the proceedings, focusing in particular on the presidential race. 

Their potential to sway the electorate through the sheer scale of their spending has been greatly enhanced by Citizens United, last year’s controversial ruling by the US supreme court that opened the floodgates to corporate donations in political campaigns. The ruling allows companies to throw unlimited sums to back their chosen candidates, without having to disclose their spending.  

That makes 2012 the first Citizens United presidential election, and in turn offers rich pickings to the Koch brothers. They have already made clear their intentions. At their most recent billionaires’ gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year’s presidential contest as “the mother of all wars”. A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle “for the life or death of this country”.  

As for President Obama, we do have a bit of good news. Reuters recently reported that in the FEC financial disclosures released last week, it showed in 2011 his campaign raised 60 percent of the funds, or $58.5 million, from donors who gave less than $200.  

We have entered into a new wild west style of politics where for some of our candidates there is just a small group of people who fund their campaigns and the rise of super PACs who now can have access to unlimited funds and can use those funds in unlimited ways in order to sway our elections. For the middle and lower classes, both Republican and Democrat, this is not a promising sign for our survival.

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Republican Mitch McConnell calls Teachers and First Responders Jobs Bill ‘A Bailout’

In an interview Sunday with Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended his opposition to President Obama’s now dead jobs bill, saying that the federal government should instead focus on decreasing regulations.  

Senate Republicans defeated the $35 billion package last week, which aimed to hire or retain teachers and emergency responders. This bill was paid for by raising a 0.5% tax on people who make OVER $1 million. Let me repeat that….a 0.5% tax hike on individuals who earn OVER $1 million. Their first million in income would be taxed at the same rate, however, beginning at $1 million plus, they would pay just 0.5% more in taxes. 

Can there be any question as to what the Republicans priorities are….who they are fighting for? 

McConnell told Ms. Crowley that saving emergency responders from unemployment shouldn’t be a federal responsibility because we can’t afford “to be bailing out states.” 

“I certainly do approve of firefighters and police,” said McConnell. “The question is whether the federal government ought to be raising taxes on 300,000 small businesses in order to send money down to bail out states for whom firefighters and police work. They are local and state employees.” 

It’s not just the fringe Tea Party Republicans but also the mainstream Republicans who are preaching to America about small government and we should rely on the private sector to create jobs, not government.  

While there are some Americans who like the idea of a smaller government, Republicans blatant willingness to fire even the most essential public servants for the sake of decreasing “the number of people who work for the government” reflects the true price of Republican ideology.  

Last summer the Democratic-controlled House took up a similar bill to prevent teacher layoffs, and then-Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) complained about “bailouts” for “liberal special interests.” Also, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) described the bill as a “government worker bailout.”  

In an interview with Voice Of Americas McConnell’s response to blocking the “Teachers and First Responders Jobs” bill was “Bailouts do not solve the problem. In fact, they perpetuate it.”

GOP’s Answer to Fixing the Budget

All the talk in D.C. and in state congressional houses has been about budgets and how to fix them. To no one’s surprise, GOP’s answer to solving the issue is tocut, cut, cut anything and everything they consider to be socialism (you know that whole “small government” thing), i.e., Medicare, Social Security, education funding, unemployment benefits. The Democrats (in that bang your head against a wall way) want to compromise, AGAIN. 

I have written many posts on this subject, but in my research on this, I discovered just what lengths Republican-controlled state governments are going in order to tackle their budget woes (Starve the Beast at its best). In many states, under the guise of fixing the budget, they have been slashing programs that many poor and working class as well as the chronically unemployed depend on. The level at which they have gone continue to surprise me (remember this is the same party that runs on Christian values). Here are a few examples.

Texas Governor Rick Perry and his Tea Party pals have pushed for the deepest cuts in the nation—$23 billion, or one-fourth of current spending levels—while carrying on their tax-shedding frenzy, paying special attention to the need for tax relief among luxury yacht owners (yes, luxury yacht owners). Some of the deepest cuts in the country are spending cuts to public schools, already among the nation’s most poorly funded, could mean some 100,000 teacher layoffs, pre-K programs decimated and schools closed. Huge cuts to Medicaid could push an estimated 60,000 senior citizens out of their nursing homes. 

Florida Governor Rick Scott is conducting a similar experiment, having decided that the best path to solvency for the state, which faces a $3.6 billion deficit, is trimming taxes and reducing the burden on employers imposed by unemployment insurance, a drastic reduction in unemployment benefits, which already rank forty-sixth in the nation in a state with 11.1 percent unemployment, the third-highest in the country.

We all know the Scott Walker story in Wisconsin. 

Ohio Govenor John Kasich and the Republican controlled state government have resorted to making huge cuts to public services, what some have dubbed the “Slash, Seize and Sell Budget” slashes services; seizes revenue from local governments, libraries and schools; and sells public assets, including five prisons and the liquor distribution business, eliminating long-term revenue sources and reducing public control over vital public functions. The cuts to services used by low- and middle-income families are extraordinary, including an apparent $1.4 billion reduction in Medicaid, the K–12 cuts and a $1 billion cut to local governments (a mind-boggling 50 percent chop in the second year).

About GOP-Supported ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)

In the last few months this group has been in the news lately. I have to admit that I had never even heard of ALEC and was not even on my radar (thanks to Maddow now they are), so needless to say, I have been trying to catch up on finding out specifics about this organization, what it is they stand for and what is their purpose.

Just an FYI, what was most startling is they actually write bills or provide “model legislation” that have actually passed, some virtually verbatim, i.e., the Arizona immigration law. Each year approximately 800 bills are introduced in the states which are based in whole or in part on ALEC model legislation. Annually, about 20% of these introduced bills become law.

I have been to many different websites, read many articles and this is what I found.

Who they are:
I found 2 mission statements, one from their website and the other Wikipedia, but both pretty much are the same.

 ALEC website:
…to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.

…to promote these principles by developing policies that ensure the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally, the Federal Government.

…to enlist state legislators from all parties and members of the private sector who share ALEC’s mission.

…to conduct a policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership to support research, policy development, and dissemination activities.

…to prepare the next generation of political leadership through educational programs that promote the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, which are necessary for a free society.

Wikipedia: To advance the principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a partnership between America’s state legislators and concerned members of the private sector, policy experts and the general public. ALEC brings state lawmakers and business people together to substantively create policy. Both public and private task force members have a voice and a vote in shaping bills. In addition to state lawmakers, ALEC consists of about 300 corporate, foundation, and other private sector members.

Who belongs to ALEC:
See if a representative from your state is listed.

Board Members
South Carolina Representative Liston Barfield
Utah Senator Curt Bramble
North Carolina Representative Harold Brubaker
Indiana Senator Jim Buck
Texas Representative Tom Craddick
New Mexico Senator Kent Cravens
Mississippi Representative Jim Ellington
Louisiana Representative Noble Ellington
Indiana Representative Dave Frizzell
Mississippi Senator Billy Hewes III
Virginia Representative Bill Howell
New York Senator Owen Johnson
Arkansas Senator Michael Lamoureux
Tennessee Representative Steve McDaniel
Kansas Senator Ray Merrick
Connecticut Representative John Piscopo
Nevada Senator Bill Raggio
Nevada Senator Dean Rhoads
Georgia Senator Chip Rogers
Ohio Senator William Seitz
Tennessee Representative Curry Todd
Iowa Representative Linda Upmeyer
Kansas Senator Susan Wagle

Private Enterprise Board
Ms. Sano Blocker, Energy Future Holdings
Mr. Don Bohn, Johnson & Johnson
Mr. Jeff Bond, PhRMA
Mr. Bill Carmichael, American Bail Coalition
Mr. Derek Crawford, Kraft Foods, Inc.
Mr. John Del Giorno, GlaxoSmithKline
Mr. Matt Echols, Coca-Cola Company
Mr. Jim Epperson, Jr., AT&T Services, Inc.
Mr. Michael Hubert, Pfizer Inc
Ms. Teresa Jennings, Reed Elsevier, Inc.
Mr. Ken Lane, DIAGEO
Mr. Kelly Mader, Peabody Energy
Mr. Bernie McKay, Intuit, Inc.
Mr. Mike Morgan, Koch Industries, Inc.
Mr. Kevin Murphy, ExxonMobil Corp.
Mrs. Sandra Oliver, Bayer Corporation
Mr. David Powers, Reynolds American Inc.
Ms. Maggie Sans, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Mr. Russell Smoldon, Salt River Project
Mr. Toby Spangler, Altria Client Services, Inc.
Mr. Roland Spies, State Farm Insurance Co.
Mr. Pat Thomas, United Parcel Service
Mr. Jerry Watson, Chairman Emeritus

Model Legislation: 
Below has been gathered from multiple sites including the ALEC site.

One of the most important resources ALEC provides to its members is model legislation. Through the combined effort and unique partnership of public and private sector members, model legislation is drafted, deliberated and approved by one of ALEC’s nine Task Forces. These bills provide a valuable framework for developing effective policy ideas aimed at protecting and expanding our free society.

ALEC’s public sector Board of Directors has thirty days to review, and approve or reject, each bill before it becomes official ALEC policy. Legislative members can introduce ALEC model bills in their states and amend them as best fits their needs.

While ALEC provides the resources, our members, long known for their legislative activism, introduced hundreds of bills based on ALEC model legislation. During the latest legislative cycle, dozens of ALEC model bills were enacted into law.

ALEC has approximately three hundred private sector members including corporations, state and national think tanks, and trade associations. Some corporations and trade groups that have supported ALEC include: American Nuclear Energy Council, American Petroleum Institute, Coors Brewing Company, Texaco, PhRMA, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, VISA, Exxon Mobile, NRA, Amway and others.

Groups critical of ALEC claim that the organization is controlled by the entities that fund it, subsequently promoting donors’ agendas and goals, along with attempting to advance legislation which favors their interests.

I will be continuing my research of them and find out just how much influence they have. Would love to hear what you think and if you have anything to add.

The Billionaire/Corporate-Funded Republicans

It was found out back in September 2010, per FEC filings, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads was funded virtually all by billionaires, which they turned around and spent on attack ads against Democrats. In August 2010 they raised $2,639,052 and $2.4 million (91%) came from three billionaires.

Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, Robert Rowling, CEO of the company TRT Holdings, and Carl Linder who owns American Financial Group. Jerry Perenchio of Bel Air. He’s worth $2.1 billion, which was made off the sale of TV station Univision. He was co-chair of John McCain’s national finance committee.

The partner of American Crossroads, American Crossroads GPS, who because of the way they are organized, do not have to disclose donors. They told Politico that they are raising millions of dollars but we will probably never know from who. Now that SCOTUS ruled in favor of corporations in their decision in the Citizen’s United case, the issue of secret donors will be exacerbated.

The power of corporations in our country is astounding. We are quickly losing control of our own government and it is being taken over by corporations. Our representatives are being bought and paid for by these billionaires and corporations. The Tea Party supporters and the lower/middle class Republicans need to get a clue and realize this before it is too late.

If the billionaire-funded GOP have their way, we will be living in a country where corporations can do business with as little regulation as possible and events like the Gulf Oil Spill and the 2008 Wall Street meltdown will become common occurences.

We don’t need to look any further than China and India. They have some of the most polluted cities on the earth, and this is because corporations can operate in a regulation-free environment. They can conduct business without any regulations to protect their workers and provide safe working environment or provide living wage salaries.