Sunday, February 12, 2012

The amount people had to raise to participate in a “policy roundtable” at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney

Issue #96 • February 10, 2012

“Money and Democracy Update” is Public Citizen’s weekly e-newsletter about the intersection of money and politics. It is part of our ongoing campaign to track the results of — and ultimately overturn — the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows for-profit corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or attack political candidates. We’ll update you regularly with select news stories and blog posts, legislative developments and ways to get involved.

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

Ten thousand dollars: The amount people had to raise to participate in a “policy roundtable” at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney this week
Twenty-five hundred dollars: The amount people at the event were charged for having their photo taken with Romney
One thousand dollars: Price of admission to the reception

Strange but true: Jack Abramoff makes a splash at Public Citizen
Yes, yes, we know, it was very strange. Notorious ex-superlobbyist Jack Abramoff at Public Citizen?! It happened this week, and oh boy, did Abramoff’s appearance make a splash. Read some of the coverage and watch the video.

25,000 people say: Obama, fix the FEC
A petition on the White House website calling for President Barack Obama to nominate new commissioners to the deadlocked Federal Election Commission (FEC) has garnered 25,000 signatures – enough to prompt the administration to respond.

Obama reverses stance on Super PACs
Putting pragmatism over principle, President Barack Obama has reversed his stance against using Super PACs to benefit his race and is now encouraging donors to give to a Super PAC that is backing his re-election campaign. Reaction has been swift and negative. “The president’s engagement in the Super PAC arms race virtually ensures we will witness the nastiest campaign in memory,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said.

But Obama is for a constitutional amendment
President Barack Obama supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court case that said corporations can spend as much as they want to influence elections. This is according to a blog post by Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager.

House GOP leadership weakens STOCK Act
What a sorry – but telling – display. The Republican leadership’s weakening of legislation banning congressional insider trading reflects its commitment to the financial industry interests that do not want anyone to know about the trading activities they engage in – activities that are based on insider knowledge gleaned in the halls of Congress. The House bill, which doesn’t prohibit trading by these political intelligence consultants, must be reconciled with a stronger Senate version, which does.

Take two: DISCLOSE Act is reintroduced
A new DISCLOSE Act has been introduced in Congress. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), this version would require more timely disclosure of donors by Super PACs, extend disclosure requirements to other groups that make political expenditures and currently evade disclosure altogether, and require ads to include the identity of major donors. You may recall that the original DISCLOSE Act was killed by the GOP in 2010.

Dollars and Cents (even more news bites):

… Nothing like winning to boost fundraising. GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum raised one million dollars in the 24 hours after he won contests in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri …

… Montana’s Supreme Court says the state’s ban on corporate spending in elections will stay in force while the challengers’ effort to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court remains in the works …

… Harold Simmons, the Texas billionaire who helped pay for the infamous Swift Boat attack ads, has poured more than eight million dollars in the past six months into groups supporting GOP presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, as well as American Crossroads, a Karl Rove co-founded PAC …

… Voters in the District of Columbia are one step closer to seeing a measure on the November ballot that would ban corporate donations to city candidates …

… As if things weren’t weird enough, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a tongue-in-cheek video that promotes the DISCLOSE Act by taking digs at comedian Stephen Colbert for his Super PAC activity. One of her lines: “I hear he doesn’t even like kittens” …

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