LOS ANGELES TIMES: Corporate Campaign Fundraising Picks Up Speed
Laura Bonham, Progressive Democrats of America
In an August 2 Los Angeles Times story, writer Tom Hamburger from the Times Washington Bureau reports that business and conservative groups are preparing to spend significant sums of money to defeat Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. Recent rulings by the Supreme Court allow unlimited spending by corporations and unions for some electioneering activities.
The Chamber of Commerce is just one organization that plans to use their newly acquired personhood rights:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest collection point for corporate contributions, has increased its spending for the congressional election in November from $35 million in 2008 to a projected $75 million this year. Officials say it may go even higher.
But the Chamber of Commerce is not the only group to take advantage of this opening:
The chamber has been joined by new conservative fundraising organizations—such as American Crossroads, affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove—that have committed to raising tens of millions of dollars.
One report circulating among Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill last week estimated that more than $300 million has been budgeted for the campaign by a group of 15 conservative tax-exempt organizations.
Unions and liberal groups also plan to spend under the new law, but conservative and business groups are so far outflanking them:
"What we are seeing is that major businesses and industries are taking advantage of the recent court ruling and favorable political environment," said Anthony J. Corrado Jr., a political scientist at Colby College in Maine and a leading expert on money and politics. "They are already committing substantially more money than they have in any previous election cycles."
But current indications are that spending for the midterm election will break all records. Campaign advertising has already soared to $153 million, almost twice the $77 million spent at this point in the last midterm election in 2006, said Evan Tracey of the research firm Campaign Media Analysis Group. Efforts to bring greater transparency to political ad campaigns by requiring disclosure of donors were blocked in the Senate last week by Republicans, after heavy lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce.
It has been apparent for some time that the influence of corporations and special interests in elections and legislation has had profound impacts on our democracy. These recent rulings have increased corporate and special interest influence substantially, while further diminishing the ability of the people to make educated and informed choices in electing their representatives.
This is why we've worked to build Move to Amend, and why we want your involvement as well. Join or start a state chapter, pass a local resolution, or contribute to our work, and help us firmly establish that corporations are not people, and money is not speech.