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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fourth Anniversary of Citizens United

Yesterday I tuned into a Grassroots Teach-in about Citizens United via moveon.org: http://front.moveon.org/grassroots-democracy/#.UuBIPUEo5Yx

The teach-in was held on the fourth anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Some of the speakers included Representative Sarbanes from Maryland, Michael Brune of the Sierra Club, Larry Cohen of the CWA (Communications Workers of America), Liz Kennedy from demos.org, Heather McGhee of demos.org, and there was another speaker but I cannot find his name anywhere. The conference was done in the style of a Google + Hangout.

The point of the hangout was to discuss the problems that the Citizens United outcome has caused and to discuss methods to combat the decision and stabilize the foundation of American democracy.

The ideas were ones I have discussed in previous blog posts: dark money is allowing the rich to determine the path of American policy by electing who they wish by flooding their favorite candidates with money, corporations are allowed to fund elections without full disclosure of where the money is going, paid ads funded by the rich flood airways and influence the vote towards candidates who can afford to buy the airtime, etc.

Ideas as to how to fix the problems brought on by Citizens United were presented as well. Some suggestions were as follows:

Influence SEC to require full disclosure of corporate and non-profit funding of campaigns

Influence state governments to fund and support public financing for campaigns

Amend the constitution and limit aggregate total spending from individuals, corporations, and non-profits in campaigns

Refundable tax credits for lower-income political contributors who want to have a voice in elections but may not be able to afford to provide support to the candidate they want to see win

These are all pretty great and straightforward ideas. All they require is the dedication of citizens and activists to make them happen.

One current event I learned about that I would like to share is the current Supreme Court Case known as McCutcheon v FEC.

On September 28, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee (RNC) challenging the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (the Act’s) biennial limit on individual contributions. The plaintiffs contended the limit was unconstitutionally low and was not supported by a sufficient governmental interest. http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/McCutcheon.shtml

Essentially, McCutcheon claims his freedom of speech is being limited because he can’t spend more than 120,000 dollars on a candidate. Meanwhile, lower bracket citizens crushed by a corrupt system of campaign funding can hardly afford to give 5 dollars to have their voice heard.

Enough said: I personally don’t want McCutcheon to win this case.

According to our friends who spoke during the teach-in, moveon.org is already planning flash demonstrations and protests in case the decision does not weigh in the progressive favor.


So, what do you think?

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