Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Election, democracy, Hong Kong and the US

This is a 7 minute video that looks at the way money has reduced the voter population that counts down to a handful.  Sure, we all get to vote, but it’s the things that happen before the final vote that makes the real decision.  How often do we hear that there is no one to choose, we have no choice?  My response is: Did you vote in the primary?  I think the greater work done by money regarding controlling the election results is during the primary runs.  The media looking at this as a celebrity contest and reporting it as such (Dean scream of joy turned into a negative) combined with lack of voter participation just makes it too easy for the money to be determinate in a primary.

The comparison of what we have created in the US to Hong Kong is based on this ability of a few to determine who the many have to choose from.  In the US, the filter is money.  In Hong Kong it is by law.  This video makes if simple enough for anyone to understand, including those who learn about life from the Fox news system.

 

We can not count on our media system to inform the populace as to the mechanics of our current electoral process.  They are no longer free of conflict of interest.  An election is now a major source of income/profit and the media is doing just as we have come to accept a private for profit business do in our version of capitalism.   Though it was not always just about profit or profit primary vs secondary.  It has perverted the intent of the 1st amendment as it relates to the ideals mine and my former generation were taught regarding our version of democracy.

I was surprised from the video just how close we are to having success in changing the way we fund our elections.  10 votes in the Senate.  10!

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Super pacs disclosures

OMB Watch notes some figures on Super Pac spending:

Outside groups are spending nearly 1,300 percent more on broadcast advertising for the 2012 election than they did in 2008, according to an analysis released on Jan. 30. This is the clearest demonstration yet that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has fundamentally rewritten the rules for political spending.


The Jan. 31 disclosure reports filed by independent expenditure-only political action committees – typically referred to as “super PACs” – contained few surprises: super PACs have been raising, and spending, dizzying amounts of money in an attempt to influence the 2012 elections. In fact, these more than 300 “independent” (that is, “not coordinated” with a candidate or political party) groups have accounted for more than 40 percent of all the broadcast ads aired during the Republican presidential primaries, as compared to only three percent of the 2008 ads.

While candidates are vying to attract the support of a broad swath of voters, the super PACs endorsing them are funded almost entirely by very few, very wealthy donors. For example, more than 80 percent of the $17.9 million dollars collected by the super PAC supporting (but not connected to or coordinated with) Mitt Romney’s campaign came via six-figure contributions. Five other super PACs supporting Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman showed a similar pattern. Winning Our Future, a pro-Gingrich super PAC, received $10 million from just one couple.

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The Secret Money is Shifting to 501c4s

Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog instructs us on super pacs and 501c4s:

These days, I probably spend more time speaking to reporters (from as far away as Brazil and Italy) about Super PACs than about any other election law subject. There is a lot of misinformation floating out there about what Super PACs are, where they came from, the relationship to Citizens United, and the ability of super PACs to coordinate with candidates without running afoul of the FEC disclosure rules. For those looking for basic information from what I’ve written, I point reporters to my recent CNN oped, this blog post on whether Citizens United created Super PACs, and this blog post which highlights the kinds of coordination which are currently permissible under FEC rules.

. The Secret Money is Shifting to 501c4s, and It Demands a Legislative Response. Last night ace election lawyer Rob Kelner tweeted: “Biggest story today: Crossroads’ c4 raised more than its Super PAC. Confirming that media is missing the boat by focusing on Super PACs.”

My big concern before yesterday was that we would see a lot of transfers of money from 501c4s to affiliated Super PACs to shield the identity of donors to Super PACs. I’m still trying to get a handle on how much of this took place (apparently less than I thought). But the reason these transfers are not taking place is that it appears the 501c4s are engaging in much more direct election-related activity than they have in the past. That is, we are seeing some 501c4s becoming pure election vehicles. The relation of 501c4s to super pacs is now like the past relation between 527s and pacs—these are now the vehicles of questionable legality to influence elections. While Adam Skaggs is rightly focused on fixing the coordination rules for Super PACs, this seems to be fighting yesterday’s war already. The key is to stop 501c4s from becoming shadow super PACs. Yes, campaign finance reform community, it has become this bad: I want more super PACs, because the 501c4 alternative is worse…

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