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Posts Tagged ‘Citizens United v. FEC’

Russ Feingold Launches ‘Progressives United’ To Combat Corporate Influences In Politics

HuffPost- Amanda Terkel

First Posted: 02/16/11 03:23 AM Updated: 02/16/11 08:48 AM

WASHINGTON — When some senators retire, they decide to take lucrative lobbying jobs. Others go straight to Wall Street. But Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, who lost his re-election bid in November, is continuing on his principled — and often lonely — path by starting an organization to combat corporate influence in politics, an effort he hopes will spark “a new progressive movement” that will truly hold elected officials accountable.

Launching on Wednesday, Progressives United is an attempt to to build a grassroots effort aimed at mitigating the effects of, and eventually overturning, the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to corporate spending in the U.S. electoral system. In addition to online mobilization, the political action committee (PAC) will support progressive candidates at the local, state and national levels, as well as holding the media and elected officials accountable on the group’s key priorities.

“In my view — and the view of many people — it’s one of the most lawless decisions in the history of our country,” said Feingold of Citizens United in an interview with The Huffington Post. “The idea of allowing corporations to have unlimited influence on our democracy is very dangerous, obviously. That’s exactly what it does … Things were like this 100 years ago in the United States, with the huge corporate and business power of the oil companies and others. But this time it’s like the Gilded Age on steroids.”

Feingold, who is now also teaching law school at Marquette University and writing a book on foreign policy, has first-hand experience with the effects of big money in politics. While he shunned outside spending on his behalf in his campaigns, his 2010 opponent, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, was the beneficiary of millions of dollars from conservative interest groups. After his win, Johnson even went to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s national headquarters to personally thank CEO Tom Donohue for the lobbying group’s unsolicited support of his candidacy.

Feingold said that Progressives United will follow the example of his own campaigns and not take any soft money or unlimited contributions. “We’re going to be reporting every dime that we get, whether required by law or not,” he insisted. “Every penny of every contribution — a practice I used as a U.S. senator. So it will be very different from the 527s and other groups that have been spawned by Citizens United. It will be 100 percent accountable, and that is an important principle that I believe in that we’ll follow to the T with Progressives United, as a way of contrasting it to what’s going on with the corporate money power that’s been unleashed by Citizens United.”

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Bill Moyers: “Let’s Face It, Two Political Parties; Equal Opportunity Hypocrites”

Crooks & Liars- By Heather Saturday Feb 06, 2010 2:00pm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Bill Moyers smacks the Democrats and Republicans for sucking up to corporate lobbyists at their retreats and Mitch McConnell for the hypocrisy of his statement on the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling.

BILL MOYERS: Everybody’s been talking about that Republican retreat last weekend, where President Obama engaged his opponents in a give and take. But what you may not know is that it was organized by something called the Congressional Institute. Nice highfalutin civic bunch, you might deduce from its name. Turns out the Congressional Institute is funded by corporate contributions and run by top Republican lobbyists. There are fourteen members on its board–twelve are registered lobbyists. And the contributors to the Congressional Institute read like a who’s who of corporate America. Among its benefactors have been General Motors, Lockheed Martin, Time Warner, UPS. The institute’s chairman lobbies for among others, Goldman Sachs, B.P., Health Net and AHIP. That’s the trade group for the health insurance industry that fought tooth and nail against the public option and brought the White House to its knees.

Now if any Democrats out there are gloating over this, I’m not finished. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also had a cozy little retreat last weekend at a Ritz-Carlton resort in Miami Beach, which boasts “sumptuous marble baths,” a spa, and a two million dollar art collection. The website Politico.com reports that in addition to prominent Democratic senators there were plenty of representatives from industries the Democrats regularly attack when they wear their populist hat: the American Bankers Association, the tobacco giant Altria, the oil company Marathon, several drug manufacturers, and the defense contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as Heather and Tony Podesta — two of the biggest corporate spear carriers on K Street and two of the biggest Democrats in town. Very, very intimate. And very, very politically incestuous.

One final note: after the Supreme Court handed down its decision two weeks ago, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the leader of Senate Republicans, praised it from the senate floor. He dismissed the notion that the decision might allow a flood of foreign money to influence our elections. Now we learn from TalkingPointsMemo.com that Senator McConnell has received substantial funds from a subsidiary of a big foreign defense contractor that’s currently being investigated by the Justice Department for bribery. Senator McConnell has been quite good to that subsidiary — this year alone he’s requested seventeen million dollars in earmarks for its Louisville facility. Yes, the sun, and the dollar signs, shine bright in Senator McConnell’s old Kentucky home.

Let’s face it, two political parties; equal opportunity hypocrites.

That’s it for the Journal. Go to our website at PBS.org and click on Bill Moyers Journal. You can read Dr. Margaret Flowers’ letter. You’ll also learn how your state’s laws will be affected by the recent Supreme Court decision. We’ll also link you to websites where the debate rages on.

That’s all at PBS.org.

I’m Bill Moyers. And I’ll see you next time.

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