Monthly Archives: October 2012

One Way Forward by Lawrence Lessig Part One

by Anita

Lawrence Lessig is a law professor at Harvard University and a proponent of a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United. He has founded several organizations to support his cause of getting money out of politics, including Rootstrikers. In 2011, Lessig published Republic, Lost – How Money Corrupts Congress, and a Plan to Stop It. This was followed in 2012 with a shorter, more streamlined work, One Way Forward – the Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic. Since I recently read One Way Forward, I decided to share some of the main ideas in the book; this will be a two-part series to allow space for a more extensive discussion.

Lessig believes that “We the People” hold an immense power given to us by the Constitution, but it is a sleeping giant that is only awakened in a crisis. For example, in 1998, two software developers started an email list to encourage “moving on” and getting back to the business of government when those in Congress were obsessed with the Clinton sex scandal. The movement grew exponentially and became MoveOn.org. This is “crowd-sourced politics.” Continue reading

John McCain Calls Citizens United Decision the Worst Ever

John McCain with Naval Academy midshipmen

by Kellye

Republican Senator John McCain recently called the Citizens United decision the “worst decision ever.”  This isn’t the first time that he has spoken out against the decision.  In a PBS interview in June of this year, McCain called it “the most misguided, naive, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st century.”  He continued, “To somehow view money as not having an effect on elections, a corrupting effect on elections, flies in the face of reality.”

In reference to the five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of the decision, McCain added, “I just wish one of them had run for county sheriff.”  He said that “we need a level playing field and we need to go back to the realization that Teddy Roosevelt had: that we have to have a limit on the flow of money and that corporations are not people.”  McCain is predicting huge scandals in future elections due to the influence of unlimited money in the political process. Continue reading

FCC’s New Rule on Tracking Political Ad Buys

Beginning August 2, 2012, about 200 TV station affiliates of NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox in the nation’s top 50 TV markets were required by the FCC to start posting the records of political ad buys online for easier access.  Prior to this date, these records could still be obtained, but only by going directly to the TV station’s location and requesting them (this procedure is still in place for all other stations, including cable).  The ability to access this information more quickly and easily will allow for greater transparency in political elections.

Broadcasters had been fighting against this requirement for a number of years because they said it created “an onerous paperwork burden.”  They are now saying that the new rule would affect their bottom line by exposing their ad pricing to other customers and to their competitors.  After one year, the FCC will re-evaluate its decision based on the effect that it had on the 200 TV stations.

Unfortunately, there are still huge numbers of political ad buys that are not covered by the FCC ruling because they fall outside the nation’s top 50 TV markets.  According to the Sunlight Foundation, this includes more than half of the ads (tens of thousands) that have aired in 4 of the 9 presidential swing states.  None of the ad spending in Iowa has to be reported.  Only 30% of that in Wisconsin and  45% of that in Colorado have to be reported online. Continue reading