Saturday, February 1, 2014

Citizens United II: Worst Coming with McCutcheon Case

Outside the USSC Building During  McCutcheon v. FEC Hearing
(But, Will it Matter - Doubtful)


Major Update (February 1, 2014): The original post about the pending USSC decision follows this update. The heart of the story and issue at hand is pretty simple to comprehend:

In anticipation of the ruling in McCutcheon vs. the Federal Election Commission, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the Sunlight Foundation have teamed up to look at the deep-pocketed donors who could give even more if the high court strikes down another limit on the amount of money in U.S. politics.

Using data compiled by CRP, we focused on 20 of the biggest givers so far of "hard money" — contributions to federal political committees that are limited by the Federal Election Campaign Act. The majority of big donors on our list have had identifiable interests before the government in the last six years. More than ten months before Election Day, each has already contributed $100,000 or more in the current campaign cycle. That means they're all pushing up against the $123,200 aggregate contribution limit that the Supreme Court has been asked to eliminate.

Under current law, donors are not only limited in how much they can give to a candidate ($2,600 per election), a national party committee ($32,400 per year), the federal committee of a state or local party ($10,000 per year) and a political action committee ($5,000 per year), they are also limited in the total amount they can contribute. To parties and PACs, that amount is $74,600, while to candidates the limit is $48,600 in the 2014 election cycle. That adds up to a grand total of $123,200.

The new amount would jump to over $3 million (see chart above). Think hard and carefully about what that means vis-à-vis your contribution as a citizen – say your $100, $250, $500, or even the max of $2600.00. Do you have a spare $3 million to help make democracy work say compared to the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, or any one of the handful of billionaires licking their collective chops about this ruling, and their chance to finally fund and buy the entire United States government apparatus.

If you think 2012 was bad, then be prepared to see the wreckage of this expected decision. It would change our country forever and for the worst. Bet on. But, be careful. You probably have a certain limit for that bet – others do not, and that is what they are betting on. 

If you truly want a campaign issue, this would be it.

Original Post: Dateline the Supreme Court, October 9, 2013 — Highlights:  The Supreme Court heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), a case that could lead to huge changes in campaign financing far beyond that levied on the public with the lousy 5-4 ruling in Citizens United in 2010 (namely the TEA "party" that still haunts us till this day). 

In this article, presented by Bill Moyers and Company, we can see some fine pieces that shed light on where this case may be going and what the possible outcome means — most of which will not be good or pretty for democracy.

Imagine a boatload of anyone billionaires ranging from Donald Trump to Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers and every billionaire in between writing multimillion dollar checks to a single candidate or a number of candidates who just happen to side with their mostly narrow and selfish agendas. A proven fact.

A sample of what many expected would happen during the oral arguments from the conservative justices:

They basically that they may further unwind campaign finance restrictions by eliminating federal limits on how much individuals may donate to political candidates and committees. Justice Scalia, who led the charge for conservatives, disputed the idea that giving large amounts to candidates or parties reflects “corruption,” instead likening it to “gratitude,” and then he added: “I mean, if gratitude is corruption, don't those independent expenditures by PACs evoke gratitude?  It's not as if we're prohibiting big money from being in politics. Big money can be in political — you just can't give to political parties.”  

Folks we are in for very big trouble if this goes down 5-4 like Citizens United. The question is: what can “We, the People” do. Simple: we still have our vote and that is our voice. Are we prepared to use it? One hopes so.

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