The Investors (Part Two)

 Via data compiled by the Center For Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website, what follows here is part two of a list of some of the country's longtime big political spenders who are pouring on the PAC contributions in 2012 to political candidates and parties. (A list of the groups and companies making the biggest independent expenditures over the last twenty years can be found here.)

These corporations and groups have historically hedged their bets for special treatment by spreading their money around.  All have spent nearly $1 million or more in PAC contributions already to candidates in both parties this year.

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Everything Counts In Large Amounts: Current Special Interest Spending in Colorado State House Races

The outcomes of local and state elections can often have a surprising impact on national politics. In a crucial swing state like Colorado, the effects local elections have on the national discourse can be powerful indeed.

So with that in mind, and the general election nearly upon us, it may be a good time to start looking at what groups are not only in competition for favors from Colorado state government, but could conceivably end up making an imprint on a regional or even national stage. Here’s a breakdown of the hot House races where these PACs and political issue committees are putting their money, the most active PACs and political groups, and the most “bi-partisan” PAC that’s sending to checks to politicians on both sides of the aisle.  We’ll start with information from the latest reports with the Secretary of State.

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Equal Rights for Corporate Shareholders

Corporate shareholders do not have equal rights under the law. Yes, when it comes to having an equal voice in how their money is spent, corporate shareholders do not have the same freedoms as union members.

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The Investors (Part One)

There's a powerful argument that what American political parties really represent are different wings of American industry. The focus of the parties-in-power isn't to legislate for voters, but to continue to make things easier for their "investors."

“The fundamental market for political parties usually is not voters,” writes Thomas Ferguson in his essential study, Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competitions and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems. Rather,

The real market…is defined by major investors, who generally have good and clear reasons for investing to control the state…Blocs of major investors define the core of political parties and are responsible for most of the signals the party send to the electorate.

Some businesses, however, are intent on making sure that regardless of who is running, the pols stay "invested."

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Could Foreign Money Influence Our Elections?

What if a foreign corporation or business person wanted to hand-pick the U.S. president? There’s probably a lot in it for them: more money, more business, maybe less trade regulation. Thanks to our new campaign finance system, that scenario may no longer be the imaginings of some conspiracy theorist.

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Thursday Chart: A Helluva Lot of Noise

57-percent-mojo-chart-demos-report.jpgThe tidal wave of money that's crashed into our elections has officially broken into the mainstream - Time's cover story for the week of Monday August 13 is titled, "How to Buy the White House." According to a follow up blog by Time writer Michael Scherer, "the little guy is no longer king."

But it's a lot worse than that.

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Video: How a Bill(ionaire) Becomes a Law(maker)

Like-minded organization, unPAC, brings you this amusing video on the power that money has in our democracy.

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There Was Candy...

Last week, I went over to the Common Cause office to help verify signatures for the initiative they are doing with CoPIRG and Fair Share Alliance. This is the initiative that instructs elected officials to support changes to the United States Constitution to allow the regulation of money in politics.  

There were a dozen volunteers also doing the tedious work of making sure that each petition was notarized properly, that the signatures, addresses, dates and verifications were correct and then logging the number of signatures into the computer. There was nothing glamorous, exciting or uplifting about the exercise, although there were candy and donuts. It was just grunt work, inside, at a computer going through endless stacks of petitions. The ones I worked on were from Montrose and Ridgway.

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So It's Not a Video Game?!

A new poll by The Washington Post shows most Americans haven’t even heard of Super PACs and aren’t sure what they are.

When given choices for the definition of the term “Super PAC,” only 40% correctly answered “a group able to accept unlimited political donations.” One percent of respondents even thought a Super PAC referred to a game for a smart phone. It gets worse: ¾ of respondents had heard very little or nothing at all of increased spending by outside groups in this election.

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Senate Subcommittee Takes On Super PACs and Citizens United

If you're a history nerd like me there's nothing in the world like a batch of new primary source documents. And primary source documents on Citizens United and campaign finance? Oh, come to Poppa.

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American Thinkers vs. Big Money

You may think that the debate over big money in politics is a new one. This is not so. It’s a debate that has been prevalent in political discourse since the conception of our country. 

A number of prominent American political thinkers and politicians over the past few centuries –including numerous founding fathers– have denounced the effect of big special interests. Thomas Paine, Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt are among such people; Thomas Paine being one of our most important founding fathers.

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There Are Some Things You Can't Hide

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There's a clever scene in Steven Spielberg's 2003 film Minority Report when Tom Cruise's character, disgraced police chief John Anderton, on the run from his former colleagues, ducks into a mall in order to escape. But Speilberg's setup here is that at the same time, wall-mounted optical sensors repeatedly scan his eyes and ID him, then project holographic ads so specific and personalized they use his name ("John Anderton! You could use a GUINESS right about now!"). As he gets further into the mall, and more floating ads shout his name, his anonymous getaway looks less and less likely.

Futuristic, right? Wrong. Much in the same way John Anderton had ads calling out to him and him alone, Super PACS are placing highly targeted ads on specific web sites for news junkies like yourself says the investigative news site ProPublica.

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Follow the Money: The Great Immigration Debate

As the presidential election heats up, so too has the immigration debate. Most want some kind of immigration reform but how do we do it? Some are proponents of the Dream Act. Some are proponents of “self-deportation.” Some are in favor of strengthening our border with Mexico.

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A Message From CO Common Cause

When the Supreme Court handed down its 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, it opened up our elections to a flood of corporate and special interest money. This election cycle we have already seen a record amount of money spent from SuperPACs and dark money organizations. The only way to overturn Citizens United is with a constitutional amendment. That effort starts here in Colorado, Right Now!

We are in the midst of a signature drive campaign to get an initiative on the Colorado ballot calling on our elected officials to support a constitutional amendment to restore government of, by, and for the people, by keeping big money out of our elections.

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GLBT and Money

4421374836_d3a7dfc763.jpgIt’s been quite a year for the GLBT community all over the nation, with Washington state and Maryland allowing same-sex marriages, a federal appeals court ruled California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional and unfortunately, the defeat of civil unions here in Colorado.

So what does this have to do with our work at CleanSlateNow.org? Well, I’m glad you asked. 

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Guns & Laws

It would take you less than an hour to drive from Columbine High School to the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora. Both venues are in the suburbs of Denver and subject to the laws created by the Colorado Legislature.

Few politicians have mentioned laws when talking about the shooting in Aurora. The following story will help explain this reluctance.

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State and Federal Colorado Lawmakers Who Are Recipients of Gun Lobby Money

Here is a list of current Colorado state legislators who have received contributions from gun lobby PACs:

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Strength In Numbers vs. Strength In Dollars

The New York Times posted a fascinating piece last Saturday on their 2012 campaign blog by professor and author Drew Westen about a couple of things we've been trying to wrap our heads around here at CleanSlateNow.org.

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Follow the Money: (The Lack of) Full Disclosure

Yesterday, the Dems in the  Senate voted on the DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections) Act – a law that would require any unions or corporations to report any election spending above $10,000.

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Money in Politics Ballot Measure

Common Cause and CoPIRG are circulating petitions to put on the ballot a measure that would instruct Colorado’s elected representatives to support a Constitutional Amendment that overturns the Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo.

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