Saturday, June 28, 2014

B.O.H.I.C.A: Koch's Open Up a Wider Floodgate - Duck!!! What Duck?

Open Wide and Say Ah
They're Baaaaaaaaaaack and More Powerful than Ever
(Here have a Koch, take Sip and Relax)

B.O.H.I.C.A.: “Bend Over Here It Comes Again” (Old military expression).

During a closed-door gathering of major donors in Southern California, on Monday (June 16, 2014), the political operation spearheaded by the Koch brothers unveiled a significant new weapon in its rapidly expanding arsenal — a new SUPER PAC called “Freedom Partners Action Fund” (see the announcement here).

The new group aims to spend more than $15 million in the 2014 midterm campaigns — part of a much larger spending effort expected to total $290 million, sources told POLITICO.

This is an evolution for billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The vast network of political nonprofit groups they helped build has mostly funneled its unprecedented political spending into issue-based campaigns that usually slam Democrats for supporting big government but seldom explicitly ask voters to support GOP candidates.

That’s expected to change under the “Freedom Partners Action Fund,” according to Marc Short, president of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, an increasingly powerful force in the Koch network that will operate in association with the new super PAC.

“The Freedom Partners Action Fund will support candidates who share our vision of free markets and a free society and oppose candidates who support intrusive government policies that push the American Dream out of reach for the American people,” the announcement said in part.

 A review of what a 527 organization or 527 group is may be helpful at this time.

They are a type of tax-exempt organization organized under Section 527 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 527).

A key part from the IRS rules: “Because 527’s may not expressly advocate for specific candidates or coordinate with any candidate’s campaign, many of them are used to raise money to spend on issue advocacy and voter mobilization.”

Examples of 527s have included: “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; Texans for Truth; The Media Fund; America Coming Together; Progress for America Voter Fund; “Secretary of State Project; and American Crossroads.” (* the Karl Rove outfit).

American Crossroads (a SUPER PAC) raises funds from anonymous donors for the Republican Party. It was formed and is basically controlled by Karl Rove. Others in that group include: Steven J. Law, a former United States Deputy Secretary of Labor for President George W. Bush, Mike Duncan, the Chairman of the Board of Directors is former Republican National Committee, and senior advisers are Rove and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Here is my question: Since they, as stated in the law may not expressly advocate for specific candidates or coordinate with any candidate’s campaign, then how can one of their TV Adsbe obviously against one candidate, by name (e.g., Matt Doheny in the NY 21st CD) if in essence it does not mean by extension that it supports his opponent (e.g., Elise Stefanik)?

Logically it makes no sense to be against a candidate, by name in  Ad, and then later plead “we don’t support his opponent.” Who else is in the race if  not the Ad’s opponent,  even they are not mentioned by name? Oh, I see. Another huge frickin’ loophole. Well, alrighty then. Never mind.

Original story starts with this introduction from a GOP member Congress who just went through a recent huge scandal and as a result will not seek reelection due to that scandal. GOP Rep. Vance McAllister (LA) was caught on tape kissing a staffer who was not his wife. He sounded off on the scandal topic as he headed out the door. His remarks are a bit odd, yet appear to be honest and refreshing. His speech was labeled as “Money controls Washington.” He an audience of Louisiana accountants that Congress is caught in a “steady cycle of voting for fundraising and money instead of voting for what is right.” His comments won’t come as much of a surprise to most Americans who do not wear black robes and work at a marble palace across the street from the U.S. Capitol, but there are five unusually powerful individuals who will probably find them baffling.

I say this after a pair of Supreme Court decisions (5-4 naturally): Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC — wherein that 5-4 (always the most-conservative justices) dismantled most of America’s campaign finance regulation. Citizens United now permits corporations and unions to spend unlimited money influencing election, so long as that money is funneled through non-campaign groups such as a SUPER PACs (since it paved the road for the creation of more Super PACs and similar groups). Then the McCutcheon ruling legalized various money laundering schemes permitting high-dollar donors to funnel seven-figure donations to contested races - it took away the ceiling for millionaires to donate money to a variety of candidates.

As I said, the comments by out-going Congressman McAllister were refreshing and especially from him under the previous circumstances which have now driven him out of office.

First Update comes from here (a fine Mother Jones report), with this headline attention grabber:

The GOP's *Fundraising Terrorist* (Paul Singer)  Has s a  new cause: Electing more Women

I see that cause being sorely needed because the GOP sucks on women issues and that’s why they lost the women’s votes in 2012.

Plus, it now seems that last USSC 5-4 ruling is working just like it purposely was desired, sorely wanted, and badly needed. I guess for individuals like Mr. Paul Singer. 

From the article: Paul Singer is the founder of the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Elliott Management. Mr. Singer is a Republican mega-donor without peer. He cuts checks to candidates and political committees, mingles at the donor retreats convened by Charles and David Koch, and, more recently, has used his wealth to nudge the Republican Party into the 21st century. He bankrolls a super-PAC that supports pro-gay marriage Republicans, funds pro-immigration reform groups, and recently started his own club of donors, a la the Kochs, to join him in his efforts.

The latest venture as it were: The most recent round of federal campaign filings reveals a new cause of Mr. Singer's: “Winning Women,” a fundraising committee devoted to electing more Republican women to Congress as to counter the claim that the GOP is anti-women.

“Winning Women” is funded largely by Singer, the employees of his hedge fund, and donors with ties to Singer. In addition, he co-hosted a fundraiser to help the female GOP candidates backed by Winning Women so far.

In our local congressional (NY 21st CD) a young woman, former Bush team aide, and now GOP candidate for a House seat, reports getting over nearly $111,000 from Singer’s committee.

Update (April 3, 2014) from Politico here. I call this the most pathetic and büllshït excuse for common sense and decency that I have ever heard re: this ruling that now floats to the top as a big Fat Cat worry:

Call it the woe is me headline:  "Big donors fear shakedown after decision" 

The story: The biggest Washington donors used to have a great excuse to keep their wallets closed when fundraisers came knocking: "Sorry, I’m maxed out."

But this latest Supreme Court ruling swiped that line away from them. The 5-4 ruling tossed out the rule that limited how much an individual can give to candidates, party committees and PAC's. Now, fundraisers hope donors, many of them lobbyists, will embrace this new legal right with gusto and give more across the board to candidates and party committees (and lest we forget: all those incumbent "Leadership PAC's" - note: 2/3 of all House members have a "leadership" PAC - which I think should be called a slush fund).

Those 'po whittle worry warts. Don't you just feel sorry for them. I guess they never used the word "No." Just too darn impolite, I suppose.

Original Post Starts Here:

Flashback (January 21, 2010):  Another day that will live in infamy.

Holding: Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast.

Justice John Paul Stevens was so outraged by the decision that he read his 90-page dissent from the bench in the Supreme Court chamber, an almost unheard-of act of protest. His summary is worth recalling:

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.”

And, now today, here we go again (from SCOTUS Blog) — I call it pleasing the rich (the top rung) while suppressing the rest of us.

Highlights: The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps — left intact — on how much each single donation can be.  Removing the ceilings on the total amounts that may be given in each election cycle will not undermine those limits, Roberts predicted.

The decision was not as sweeping as the Court’s ruling four years ago, removing all restrictions on what corporations and labor unions can spend of their own money in federal campaigns (that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), which has led to billions of dollars spent on politics through financing that is supposed to be independent of candidates or parties.  The new ruling leaves that option open if a donor does not want to directly support a candidate or a party committee and stay within the per-donation caps.

Even so, the practical result of the new ruling is almost sure to be that wealthy individuals favoring specific candidates or party positions will be able to spread their money around among more candidates and political groups.

Donors will get into legal trouble, the ruling emphasized, only if they demand a specific favor in policy or legislation in a direct exchange for the money they give.  That is the only kind of corruption that the First Amendment will allow the government to attack, the decision stressed.

The Chief Justice’s opinion said that other recent changes in campaign finance law will work to reduce the risks of abuse, and it offered several other ideas for new limits that it implied might be constitutional. Whether the votes are there in Congress to pass any of those suggestions is problematic.

Media reporting:  

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court struck down limits Wednesday in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The Justices said in a 5-4 vote that Americans have a right to give the legal maximum to candidates for Congress and president, as well as to parties and PACs, without worrying that they will violate the law when they bump up against a limit on all contributions, set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That includes a separate $48,600 cap on contributions to candidates. 

But their decision does not undermine limits on individual contributions to candidates for president or Congress, now $2,600 an election. 

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the decision, which split the court's liberal and conservative justices. Roberts said the aggregate limits do not act to prevent corruption, the rationale the court has upheld as justifying contribution limits. 

The overall limits “intrude without justification on a citizen's ability to exercise 'the most fundamental First Amendment’ activities,” Roberts said, quoting from the court's seminal 1976 campaign finance ruling in Buckley v. Valeo (from Cornell law). 

A man who usually is quiet, Justice Clarence Thomas, greed with the outcome of the case, but wrote separately to say that he would have gone further and wiped away all contribution limits. (My Note: That kind of thought is totally insane). 

Summary: So, the bottom line is by a 5-4 margin: Money is speech ... thus, I surmise that based on that, that a handful of billionaires (less than 200 people fully funded the 2012 cycle BTW) are now allowed to own, possess, and control every word, book, dictionary and Ad on the planet since they are the only ones with the means to buy voice? After all, money is speech, right? So, they own all the speech? I see, I see. Still a very, very sad day for the country, indeed.

So, why bother to even vote: Just let the big bucks buy their favorite candidate, pour millions into nasty Ads, smear everyone they hate, appeal to the base that loves the money input (just as long as they don't have to donate a dime), keep the base in tow and make sure they turn out to vote, and bingo: to Hell with the rest of the country, we got what we wanted. Now they have the majority in their pocket (in DC), so bye, bye democracy and representative government and hello Mr. and Mrs. Billionaire. It's been one helluva ride that now ends with a 5-4 vote. Great!!!

The Original Posting: 

Reversed, in that 5-4 ruling: An opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy on January 21, 2010 in a 5-4 decision with an opinion written by Justice Kennedy. Justice Stevens dissented, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Corporate growth and influence since, including power of a handful of billionaires can be seen here (Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) report) (.pdf total 3 pages). 

Corporations continue to grow as seen herepay little in their share, and now they are perhaps about to gain the ultimate prize:  Control of our entire lives with a new forthcoming USSC ruling (Hobby-Lobby and the Birth Control mandate case ).

A reason to reflect: Think back four years ago to the case that expanded the rights and privileges of corporations as “persons” just like you and me.

That was the 5-4 ruling in Citizens United that said business corporations were entitled to the same First Amendment speech protections as private citizens and other associations when they spend money (called “independent expenditures”) to influence elections. 

Recall too that previously, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law barred business corporations and labor unions from engaging in that kind of spending during the last weeks before an election.

The court tossed out those restrictions. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”  The reaction from critics was WTF (or words to that effect).

And, let's not forget the current "Man behind the White House cash Hunting Party..." 

Sheldon Adelson - billionaire who spent $93 million in 2012 - his candidates lost - so what
(tax write off anyone?)

More here about Adelson ... and the brass ring kissers (next photo) - my take at least:

Kiss the ring, get his talking points for 2016 platform
(hope to win the GOP nod) 

Neat segment here:

More at my voter suppression library files below — FYI. Enjoy the research on these topics. Thanks for stopping by.

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