In Part 1 on this subject (here), the history behind Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, which made corporate contributions in state elections illegal, and the Montana Supreme Court case involving Western Tradition Partnership (WTP), which upheld Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, are discussed.
Since the decision of the Montana Supreme Court contradicted the Citizens United ruling, WTP (now American Tradition Partnership, Inc. or ATP) appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in American Tradition Partnership, Inc., v. Bullock, via a per curiam opinion (without hearing testimony) that the state of Montana had to accept the Citizens United decision. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court majority said that there was no evidence of anything corrupting about independent spending. In the absence of evidence that WTP was coordinating with the candidates, there was nothing that Montana could do.
But here is where the irony comes into play, in the form of boxes found in a Colorado meth house. Continue reading
Posted in 501(c)4 groups, Campaign Finance Abuse, Citizens United, Corruption, Money in Politics
Tagged American Tradition Partnership Inc. v. Bullock, ATP, Big Sky Big Money, Joel Boniek, Montana, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, PBS Frontline, U.S. Supreme Court, Western Tradition Partnership, WTP
This blog is about big money in politics and the corruption that follows it. Citizens for Truth was started as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. This ruling effectively removed limits on the amount of money corporations and unions can spend in elections. The only requirement is that the expenditures must be independent of the candidate’s own campaign — there can be no coordination or other collaboration between the candidate or political party and the outside group.
Since that decision, the number of outside groups has increased exponentially. Each election seems to involve more money than the one before it. National elections, but also state and local, are heavily influenced by big money donors. It is often the case that big money donors in state and local elections don’t even live in the state, let alone the local areas. As a result, outside groups, along with their corporate and out-of-state donors, are calling the shots in state and local elections, not the people who actually live there. The two primary types of big money outside groups are SuperPACS and 501(c)4 “social welfare” organizations (for more information see these posts: 501(c)4s; PACs, SuperPACS, 501(c)4s).
The key difference between these two groups is disclosure. SuperPACs are required to disclose donations, while 501(c)4s are not. The latter is often referred to as “dark money.”
Let’s switch gears for a moment and discuss Montana’s importance in campaign finance. Continue reading
Posted in 501(c)4 groups, Citizens United, Corruption, Supreme Court
Tagged 17th Amendment, 501(c)4 group, big money donors, big money in politics, campaign finance, Citizens United, Corrupt Practices Act, corruption, Montana, Montana Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Western Tradition Partnership, WTP
Political corruption has been around for a long time in our country. When it comes to political corruption, Republicans and Democrats are both guilty. The recent conviction of former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia on charges of corruption was no surprise to those who had been following the complicated story. The governor and his family traded government “favors” for gifts and money they received from Johnnie Williams, CEO of Star Scientific. Although the governor tried to stop information gathering by investigators — for instance, he attempted to hold back emails that had been subpoenaed — in the end, he was convicted.
This was just another example of state and local officials who have been charged with and convicted of political corruption during the last four years. Continue reading
Posted in Corruption, Money in Politics
Tagged bribery, corruption probes of Congress, political corruption, quid pro quo, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, Rep. John Doolittle, Rep. Peter Visclosky, Rep. Rick Renzi, Rep. Tom Feeney, Rep. William Jefferson, roadblocks to Congressional convictions, speech or debate clause, speech or debate decision
Last month, Texans United to Amend set up an exhibition table at the Texas State Republican Convention in Ft. Worth (thanks to Mike Badzioch). On one of the days, I helped out. We were all glad to hear that Republican delegates shared the same concerns we had about the influence of too much money in politics. It’s hard to say what percentage of all the delegates agreed with us, but of the delegates who stopped at our table to talk, 95% of them agreed with us on the 2 issues that we discussed with them.
Besides the issue of too much money influencing our political process, the other issue we discussed with them was our belief that corporations are not people and should not have the same constitutional rights as individuals. From what I could tell, none of them had heard of a constitutional amendment to solve these 2 issues. However, those in agreement with us, did not seem adverse to a constitutional amendment.
None of this should be too surprising. Republicans and Republican leaders, past and present, have spoken out against money in politics, the Citizens United decision, and corporate personhood. Here is a sampling: Continue reading
Posted in campaign finance reform, Citizens United, Corruption, Money in Politics
Tagged anonymous attack ads, campaign finance reform, Citizens United, corporate personhood, corporations are not people, money in politics, Newt Gingrich, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator John McCain, Senator Warren Rudman, Super PAC, Texans United to Amend, Theodore Roosevelt, Trevor Potter