Monday, March 3, 2014

Citizens United III: McCutcheon v. FEC — Maybe Worst

Equal Justice Under Law: Where the Wealthy Prevail

Suppress the Vote: Win Anyway Possible

Drink Koch: It's the Real Thing ® 
(Charles and David Koch

Major Update of the following post (March 2, 2014):  Condensed and edited from an email I received from Public Citizen:

What would you do with $5.9 million? Why, because that’s how much the U.S. Supreme Court could decide — in a case called McCutcheon v. FEC — to let you dole out that much to candidates and committees in a single election cycle. That is assuming that you actually have $5.9 million to spend every two years to help distort and corrupt our system.

However, if you were one of the handful of people wealthy people who can actually benefit if the Supreme Court follows up its Citizens United previous debacles with an equally destructive ruling in this McCutcheon. Tomorrow is the day the justices are expected to issue decisions. Hopefully, it will not be another 5-4 call that favors big money. So, what would you buy with $6 million spare change?

  1. A mansion?
  2. Retire to a life of leisure?
  3. Start a business?
  4. Make a donation to organizations working for a better world?
So, what is at stake? Currently, an individual can contribute a total of no more than $123,000 to candidates and parties in each two-year election cycle. But with a ruling in McCutcheon as horrendous as the two previous Citizens United rulings back in 2010 and 2011, the Supreme Court could up that limit to $5.9 million — or even do away with limits entirely.

Let’s face it – there are only a few hundred people in the country who can and would spend that much to buy an election and make no mistake – that is exactly what it would be.  

The case in a nutshell: The Plaintiff is Shaun McCutcheon (who happens to be a big GOP/RW contributor, which is okay within the current limits). However he is challenging the current $123,000 overall limit on campaign contributions from a single donor to congressional candidates, as well as national political parties and committees, in a two-year cycle. He wants to be able to give as much as he wants. So, if Mr. McCutcheon prevails this so-called aggregate limit would rise to that $5.9 million over a two-year period. 

Think deeply and seriously about this and the possible outcome. We all know that big money does not always win, but it certainly keeps out smaller amounts from citizens who want a choice and don’t have a few million to try and influence an election outcome for narrow and moneyed interests and nothing else. That is what this case is about.

Updated (February 18, 2014): The title of this update from here is: The conservative case to limit voting/

This quote caught my eye from a FL GOPer: “We want everyone to vote, but we want informed voters.  (Spoken as he advocated cutting early voting). How much easier is that?”

Um... so I surmise they meant “we want informed voters and that's why we watch only FOX.”

I see, I see. 

Updated (February 14, 2014): Good segment follows below from Hardball. So, if you can't buy an election, try rigging the system to win anyway possible no matter what based on like this updated map already in 2014 and hope from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU:

Update (February 12, 2014): This brand of Koch about how to get your lifelong dream: Own your own government and country. That country would be ours ... 

My view right up front: With the massive amounts of money we have seen since in our system since the Citizens United vs. FEC ruling in 2010, one obvious fact falls out clearly: It takes out all the competition for the race. In that ruling, like so many other 5-4 decisions by this uneven, right-leaning court, we continue to see this kind of outcome: 

Justice Scalia wrote a separate concurring opinion joined by Justices Alito and Thomas in part that criticized Justice Stevens' understanding of the Framer's view towards corporation wherein Justice Stevens argued that “... corporations are not members of society and that there are compelling governmental interests to curb corporations' ability to spend money during local and national elections.” 

It is clear to me that big money backers (e.g., the Koch's, Adelson's, and a handful of others) are saying: Let us buy the candidate we want, not what the voters want.

Keep this in mind: These two billionaire brothers spent $407 million in 2012, and even though their guy didn't win, it tore up the field for anyone else who may have been better, smarter, more focused on the country rather than greed, but massive amounts of money kept out better ideas and good people who could not raise that kind of money, or who don't have it themselves.  The Koch Brothers, through Americans for Prosperity, have already spent $12 million against at least three Senate DEM targets, and it’s just February.

The anxiety has been building for months, as several Democratic incumbents — including Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — have seen their approval ratings plummet amid millions in negative ads financed by the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

My view on this subject is well-known and long-standing and is reinforced with this quote:

“This ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path the Court has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.”  — Former Justice John Paul Stevens (in his dissenting opinion in Citizens United in 2010).

Back to the topic at hand: If the GOP keeps the House (likely even with a smaller margin) and regains the Senate, then we would be very deep Kimchi. The only recourse would be and I am sure we'd see the most vetoes in history, followed by the most challenges and calls for impeachment and 5-4 decisions for the GOP than the country actually could withstand, in my view.

Original post follows from from here:  It's not just their massive amounts of money (um ... wait: yes it is). It's not their political beliefs, either (oh, wait: that, too). Not even their powerful influence (well maybe it is). Heck, it's all three of those things and much, much more. Look back: The headlines of this report is eye-catching: "Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012..."

These two brothers and their blatant and mostly-secret ways of trying to hide their donors and thus buy their brand of representative democracy is not new, of course, but it remains very troubling. Basically, they project a simple idea and strategy: when the normal established processes fail like fair and open voting and a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of wealth, the only method left is: Buy candidates and spend multi-millions to buy the country, if possible.

A few highlights from the above article:

The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.

Key players in the Koch-backed network have already begun engaging in the 2014 midterm elections, hiring new staff members to expand operations and strafing House and Senate Democrats with hard-hitting ads over their support for the Affordable Care Act. Its funders remain largely unknown; the coalition was carefully constructed with extensive legal barriers to shield its donors. But they have substantial firepower.

Together, the 17 conservative groups that made up the network raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign, according to the analysis of tax returns by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.

Bookmark this article and get engaged to stop this massive influx of money from a handful of donors bent on suppressing your vote among others things to get what they want for themselves, but not for the country as a whole.

And, when you get a chance give a hearty thanks to the 5-4 USSC Citizens United ruling and part two about to change the face of politics in America forever (McCutcheon v. FEC).

Check back later for updates and follow this subject closely. This topic I believe is the most-critical to our very survival as a free and open representative-democratic society.

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