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Supreme Court Allows Corporations to Fund Political Campaigns

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  • Supreme Court Allows Corporations to Fund Political Campaigns

    Published on HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com (http://hamptonroads.com)
    High court's ruling damages democracy

    After the Supreme Court's ruling on campaign finance, which gave companies the right to unlimited political spending, the last hope to avoid the domination of politics by corporate interests lies in disclosure.

    Here's the idea: Proclaim clearly and quickly who's paying for what, and voters will know whether to trust or mistrust a commercial or mailing.

    Here's the problem: Corporations that wish to hide their intentions can simply funnel money through nonprofit advocacy groups to shield their efforts.

    Virginians, especially, know all too well that transparency is no panacea. The commonwealth's election rules are predicated on disclosure being the antidote to corruption. Instead, the rules serve as reminders how easily - and cheaply - influence can be bought, even out in the open.

    Take three examples of corporate interests aligning with contributions:

    -- The real estate industry contributes enormous amounts of money to Virginia politicians - more than $10 million in 2009. With substantial help from politicians, the money has prevented new stormwater rules, which might have made development more expensive, as well as efforts to control sprawl in overwhelmed communities.

    -- Fish processor Omega Protein, which has given candidates and others nearly $170,000 since 1996, persuaded the General Assembly to regulate menhaden catches in the Chesapeake Bay, even though legislators regulate no other fishery and aren't equipped to do so.

    -- Payday lenders, which have given Virginia politicians way more than $1 million in the past decade, encouraged lawmakers to give the industry a special exemption from state credit laws, allowing them to charge interest rates approaching 400 percent.

    Those are simply a few of the contributions we know about, brought to us by the fine folks at the Virginia Public Access Project. And we've ignored the equally troubling donations by unions, business groups and purely political PACs, all of which can and do obscure their sources of money, sometimes completely.

    The new federal campaign finance rules were concocted by the conservative activist majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, when it decided to overturn portions of the McCain-Feingold reforms. It was a rapid and radical restructuring of both campaign law and more than a century of precedent.

    The new rules allow corporations to pay for TV ads supporting or opposing political candidates, including during the crucial weeks before an election. Direct gifts to candidates are still banned.

    The five-vote majority on the court found in the U.S. Constitution rights and privileges that don't exist, except by the kind of extension and activism each of those justices promised to fight.

    Such behavior is hardly democratic, of course, but the court is a co-equal branch. Congress should - at the very least - immediately pass legislation making it illegal for anyone, person or corporation, to hide their political spending.

    Undoing the high court's damaging decision will be doubly difficult now that American corporations are essentially free to buy their own lawmakers. And their votes.
    Source URL (retrieved on 01/27/2010 - 20:02): http://hamptonroads.com/2010/01/high...ages-democracy
    Another reason not to vote in these farce elections. I'm going to go watch the soon-to-be documentary Idiocracy.

  • #2
    I don't think it's a good idea... this is a good set up for some dirty politics and major influence on political leaders policies... "I won't fund you unless you do this"
    New old song of mine Dedicated
    Dedicated

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    • #3
      I find it hilarious that a guy who is a victim of a spin campaign by big oil and coal companies is posting this... You must be the worlds most confused child IRL.
      One convienient location...... somewhere in Africa.

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      • #4
        Hasn't this always been allowed?

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