Charging The Cavalry
Down Prison Road
Games of Shame
Our Kind of Guy
Zaps - 10/10
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Voter Beware Deceptive Elections
At the end of August, the Republican National Committee (RNC) had just over $5 million in the bank for the final stretch of the 2010 midterm election campaign and was carrying over $2 million in debt. These figures may have had Democrats jumping for joy, but their excitement would have been misplaced. The combination of missteps by Republican Party chair Michael Steele and the landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has created a paradigm shift in how elections are funded. Rather than giving money directly to the Republican Party—where their names are made public and the amount they give is regulated—major donors have abandoned the RNC and are giving to 527 and 501(c)(4) organizations, which can take money directly from corporations. This new approach to campaign finance will alter U.S. politics, reducing the power of political parties while increasing the power of corporate interests.
The best examples are American Crossroads, a Republican 527 organization, and American Crossroads, GPS, a sister non-profit. These groups are run by Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Michael Duncan. Gillespie was former chair of the Republican Party and Duncan, also a former RNC chair, was a challenger to Michael Steele for current chair of the Party.
In what has been described as a coup of the RNC, American Crossroads has become known as the "Shadow RNC" and is engaged in functions normally done by the RNC. This includes the nuts and bolts of political campaigns, such as advertising for and against candidates, polling, opposition research, database acquisition and management, as well as get out the vote efforts. They have even created a party platform which they call the "7 in 11" plan, consisting of:
- obstructing taxes for the rich
- preventing stimulus spending
- cutting back spending on Medicare and Social Security
- preventing implementation of health-care reform promoting aggressive immigration enforcement
- speeding up nuclear, coal, oil, and other energy production
Unlike political parties, where there are limits on the amount of money they can take from individuals and which are required to report their donors, American Crossroads is not limited by the size of the donations and, in many cases, does not have to report the names of the donors. It can also take money from corporations which, under Citizens United, can spend as much as they want on elections. The American Crossroads organizations raised $17.6 million through mid-August. The initial fundraising came from 4 individual billionaires cited as donating over 97 percent of the total. American Crossroads GPS, raised $5 million in June, its first month of operation. American Crossroads plans to raise and spend over $52 million to influence the 2010 elections.
During a July Fox News broadcast, Rove acknowledged that the American Crossroads groups are "currently hiring operatives with state-specific campaign knowledge to bolster the operation" and are spending millions on ads in key House and Senate races. They have already aired TV ads in the Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada Senate races and have targeted others in Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, and Washington State.
The election watchdog group Protect Our Elections (which I work for) has been seeking an Advisory Opinion from the FEC subjecting American Crossroads to the same rules that govern the RNC, since it is functioning as a political party. We have also written the attorney general urging him to:
- make a public statement that all electoral activities will be closely monitored
- require organizations involved in elections—or issue advocacy related to elections—to preserve all documents and emails
- set up a task force to monitor, investigate, and prosecute illegal electoral activities
- set up a tip line for whistleblowers to report campaign finance violations
- impanel a grand jury to investigate these matters during the campaign season
At the same time that the American Crossroads groups are taking over party RNC functions, corporations are investing heavily in the mid-term elections. The Chamber of Commerce, led by Rove ally Tom Donohue, is hoping to spend as much as either political party on the upcoming elections, $75 million, focusing on 10 senate races and 40 House races. The Chamber has already weighed in on Senate contests, spending more than $4 million so far in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio—with California next. The Chamber is the largest corporate player, leading 15 conservative organizations planning on spending $300 million in November.
Individual industries are also planning to spend big. The Center for Public Integrity reports that five insurance giants—Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., United HealthCare Inc., and WellPoint Inc.—plan to spend $20 million on close House races. The coal industry is also planning on spending millions to influence races in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Democrats will get their usual support from unions and other Democratic leaning groups. The Service Employees International Union will spend $44 million on the mid-term elections. The AFL-CIO is planning on spending more than $50 million and is focusing its efforts on six states—California, New York, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. But the Republicans have adapted to Citizens United more quickly. As in previous elections, concentrated corporate funding will dwarf that of unions and others allied with the Democrats.
With the failure thus far of Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, voters will not be told who is funding advertising campaigns. The Chamber has a history of using this deceptive approach, creating front groups that sound like citizen groups, but which are really funded by corporate interests. As a result, instead of caveat emptor, buyer beware, Americans may need to learn a new phrase when it comes to voting: caveat suffragium, voter beware. Deception will be the foundation of American elections more than ever before.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.