Moyers & Company: Billionaires Unchained

-By Andy Kroll, TomDispatch

This piece first appeared at TomDispatch. Read Tom Engelhardt’s introduction.

May 16, 2013- Billionaires with an axe to grind, now is your time. Not since the days before a bumbling crew of would-be break-in artists set into motion the fabled Watergate scandal, leading to the first far-reaching restrictions on money in American politics, have you been so free to meddle. There is no limit to the amount of money you can give to elect your friends and allies to political office, to defeat those with whom you disagree, to shape or stunt or kill policy, and above all to influence the tone and content of political discussion in this country.

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Progressive Democrats of America: Politicking by corporate cowards

-By Jim Hightower

May 11, 2013- Hide & seek can be a fun game for kids, but when huge corporations play it in our elections, fun becomes infuriating.

Last year, corporate interests sought to elect their candidates by hiding from voters. In all, $352 million in "dark money" was spent, the bulk of it by corporations that secretly pumped it into trade associations, "social welfare charities," and other front groups run by the likes of Karl Rove, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Koch brothers.

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PR Watch: Kochs Form “Business League,” Will Keep Political Spending In the Shadows

-by Brendan Fischer

May 2, 2013- The right-wing network funded by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers is being revamped after the 2012 elections, starting with a new nonprofit called the "Association for American Innovation" that will act as a hub for funnelling undisclosed spending towards the Kochs' political projects. With ambiguous IRS rules and a deadlocked Congress, they might get away with it.

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The Progressive: A Bigger, Darker Rightwing Funder

-By Ruth Conniff

April 30, 2013- It's "the most powerful organization in America that no one seems to know about."

That's how Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive think tank One Wisconsin Institute, describes the Bradley Foundation.

Unlike David Koch of the Koch Brothers, whose cover was blown when a gonzo blogger named Ian Murphy (editor of the Buffalo Beast and a frequent contributor to The Progressive), impersonated him in a prank call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The Milwaukee based Bradley Foundation operates off the mainstream media radar. Yet the group has made more than $530 million in grants and awards since 1985, making it a much, much bigger giver to rightwing causes than the Koch brothers. With more than $290 million in assets, Bradley is one of the biggest foundations in the United States.

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Ny Times: S.E.C. Is Asked to Require Disclosure of Donations

-By Nicolas Confessore

April 23, 2013- A loose coalition of Democratic elected officials, shareholder activists and pension funds has flooded the Securities and Exchange Commission with calls to require publicly traded corporations to disclose to shareholders all of their political donations, a move that could transform the growing world of secret campaign spending.

S.E.C. officials have indicated that they could propose a new disclosure rule by the end of April, setting up a major battle with business groups that oppose the proposal and are preparing for a fierce counterattack if the agency’s staff moves ahead. Two S.E.C. commissioners have taken the unusual step of weighing in already, with Daniel Gallagher, a Republican, saying in a speech that the commission had been “led astray” by “politically charged issues.”

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Huffington Post: California Officials Turn Up The Heat On Secretive ‘Dark Money’ Groups

-By Peter H Stone

March 24, 2013- California officials have widened an investigation into the source of $11 million that was mysteriously funneled by a few nonprofit groups in 2012 to sway two ballot measures in the state, The Huffington Post has learned.

The state’s election watchdog agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, which launched the inquiry last November, is working closely with the California attorney general’s office, according to a person familiar with the matter. They have issued about a dozen new subpoenas to individuals and organizations for financial records, according to the person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the probe.

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The Hill: Defeated Democrat sues the IRS for
allowing ‘mad scientist’ campaign ads

-By Bernie Becker

February 19, 2013- A former Democratic congressional candidate and a government watchdog are suing the IRS, claiming the agency has allowed political groups to flout campaign finance laws.

In their lawsuit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and David Gill, who lost a razor-thin election in 2012, say that the failure of the IRS to keep so-called 501(c)(4) groups out of politics has allowed a flood of anonymous money into the political process.

“Disgracefully, the IRS has sat on its hands for the last two election cycles while 501(c)(4) groups have been formed expressly to run negative attack ads funded by anonymous donors,” Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said in a statement.

“When called out, the IRS has said only that it is ‘aware’ of the public’s concern. Now the IRS can explain its deplorable inaction in federal court.”

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PR Watch: Citizens United 2.0? Supreme Court Could Further Open Door to Money in Politics

-By Brendan Fischer

February 20, 2013- The U.S. Supreme Court could open the door to even more money in politics than it did in the disastrous 2010 decision Citizens United v FEC as it considers a new case challenging limits on how much wealthy donors can give directly to federal candidates and political parties. If the court sides with the challengers in McCutcheon v FEC, political power and influence in America would be further concentrated in the hands of just a few wealthy donors.

Citizens United Flawed in Light of 2012 Elections, but McCutcheon Might Be Worse

The Citizens United decision was premised on the notion that expenditures made "independently" of candidates are less likely to have a corruptive influence than direct contributions to candidates and parties.

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Think Progress: The Supreme Court Will Hear A Republican Party Lawsuit To Make Citizens United Even Worse

-By Ian Millhiser

February 19, 2013- The Supreme Court’s election-buying decision in Citizens United v. FEC enabled wealthy corporations to spend unlimited money to change the course of American elections, and a subsequent lower court decision gave the green light to super PACs funded by unlimited donations from millionaires, billionaires and corporations. Today, the Supreme Court announced it would hear another case — brought by none other than the Republican National Committee — that would go even further towards transforming American democracy into the Wild West.

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