Campaign Finance News & Opinions

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4-12-12 - Wealthy Group Seeks to Reform Election Giving in New York -
An unusual and well-heeled coalition, trying to tap public anger over the flood of money into politics, is pushing to enact a public financing system for elections in New York State. NewYork Times

3-27-12 - Calif. lawmakers vote to overturn Citizens United - California lawmakers waded into the ongoing battle over corporate money in politics Thursday with a resolution that supports overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, which has led to a flood of money from deep-pocketed donors in this year's presidential race. CBS

3-8-12 - The Great Vermont Uprising Against Corporate Personhood
by John Nichols - Vermonters went to their town meetings this week to settle questions about dump fees, snowplowing contracts and utility meters.
They also decided to take on the corrupt campaign system that is steering the republic toward catastrophe.
And they have done so in a voice loud enough to be heard all the way to Washington. The Nation

12-31-11 - Montana Supreme Court upholds state ban on direct corporate campaign spending - The Montana Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court ruling and reinstated the state's century-old ban on direct spending by corporations for or against political candidates.
The justices ruled 5-2 in favor of the state's attorney general's office and commissioner of political practices to uphold the initiative passed by Montana voters in 1912. Missoulian

11-16-2011 - 99% v 1%: The Data Behind the Occupy Movement 5-minute animated video with a graphic portrayal of the growing wealth gap in the U.S. "It has been the rallying cry of the Occupy movement for the past two months - but is the U.S. really split 99% v 1%? As poverty and inequality reach record levels, how much richer have the rich got? " Guardian (UK)

8-29-11 Citizens should update, fund Public Disclosure Commission -
The PDC is an orphan agency. It was birthed in 1972 by a voting public that likes the agency but has offered little more than affection since. That leaves it reliant on support from the resentful people it regulates, leaving it understaffed and underfunded. News Tribune

8-29-11 Alaska legislators mull what to do after Citizens United, to keep campaign spending honest - The chairman of a state House committee says a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited spending in political campaigns by corporations and unions makes a mess of Alaska campaign law. News Tribune

7-6-2011 - Create a responsible government Op-Ed by Mike Selig - …First, quit listening to corporate news opinion stations. They have a vested interest in directing our attention away from important issues. The Columbian

1-21-11 Campaign finance ruling: Should Supreme Court justices have recused themselves? Common Cause President Bob Edgar said the group has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to examine whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have stepped aside rather than vote in the Citizens United case. Christian Science monitor

1-14-11 Washington lawmakers consider crackdown on PACs - Washington lawmakers are considering tighter restrictions on political action committees. The proposal stems from the case of Moxie Media. That's the Democratic political firm now being sued by the Attorney General for campaign finance violations...OPB

1-14-11 Legislators eye crackdown on PACs - A legislative proposal in response to a recent campaign-finance scandal in a state senate primary race would impose criminal penalties for the first time and would require that the intent of political-action committees be shown in their names. Seattle Times

11-29-10 SCOTUS takes Arizona Clean Elections (rescue funds) case The Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear a challenge to Arizona's public funding of state campaigns, setting the stage for a ruling that could doom efforts to limit the impact of private money in elections. Seattle Times

11-10-10 Op-Ed by Rory O'Sullivan - Mortgage investors, regulators need to make sure banks do right thing - Perverse incentives and dysfunctional corporate bureaucracies within the country's largest banks have devastated the lives of Washingtonians. Seattle Times

10-30-10 Drowning in Campaign Cash - Shrill political attacks have saturated the airwaves for months, but behind them is the real problem of this demoralizing election: the dark flow of dollars, often secretly provided by donors with very special interests. Editorial, New York Times

10-13-10 Tim Rutten - In this election, follow the money To an extent not seen in generations, companies and wealthy investors with a naked economic interest in influencing election results are pouring money into races. LA Times

9-29-10 Danny Westneat -Hey, citizens, guess who's really taking the initiative ...the campaigns for the six initiatives that made the Nov. 2 ballot are going to be, by far, the costliest the tune of $40 million. But what's striking is how little of that comes from regular people who live here. And how much of it comes from interest groups pushing the narrowest and most self-serving of agendas.
If citizens are going to be hacked off about anything, the hijacking of their political voice would be a place to start. Seattle Times

8-8-2010 David Michael Green What Is To Be Done(?) What if...political parties become virtually irrelevant, because each one is as bought-off as the next?...Money completely rules American politics, and policy choices are made almost entirely to serve the plutocracy...If this is what we judge to be the core problem, then the requisite solution takes the form of campaign finance reform.


8-15-10 Lobbyists confronted at NAIC Conference Health-care-reform activists sported surgical gowns and masks as they chanted and handed out packets that offered to "disinfect" the gathering from a "lobbyist pandemic." Seattle Times

8-15-10 Canadians have financial regulation Froma Harrod -...What Canada had was a civic culture that wanted government to regulate financial activity. What we in the United States have is an elite willing to risk everyone else's economic security to enable a few hotshots to win big at the casino of recklessness and fraud — while maintaining a variety of taxpayer backstops to reduce their risks. Seattle Times

8-16-10 House Overrides Rell Veto On Campaign Finance Law Overriding a veto by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, the state House of Representatives on Friday approved a bill that safeguards the state's landmark program of public financing for political candidates. Hartford Courant

5-15-10 Debit Fee Cut is Rare Loss for Largest U.S. Banks Lobbyists for the wounded but formidable banking industry made clear to some senators that this decision would affect future campaign donations, according to people who participated in those conversations... [italic emphasis added] New York Times

5-10-10 Rep. Norm Dicks: The honorable gentleman from Boeing by Dana Milbank - It's an odd message the Democrats are sending: Return us to power and we'll return to business as usual. Dicks has survived a House ethics probe related to influence peddling; he was cleared even though his contributors indicated that they believed their contributions would influence his actions. Seattle Times

4-16-2010 Citizens United: People Strike Back - How states and people are mobilizing to defend democracy by Riki Ott, David Cobb Yes! Magazine

4-20-10 After WaMu, Cantwell sees hints of reform Against the backdrop of tough hearings on the collapse of Washington Mutual in the largest bank failure in U.S. history, Sen. Maria Cantwell says there are signs that Congress and the Obama administration may finally be getting serious about Wall Street reforms.Tacoma News-Tribune

11-6-09 Legislature passes Impartial Justice Bill; Governor expected to sign
Accomplishing a major public policy goal of the State Bar of Wisconsin, both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature passed the Impartial Justice Bill on Nov. 5, sending the legislation to Governor Doyle, who has said publicly he will sign it into law.
The public financing legislation, Senate Bill 40, will greatly increase public financing for Wisconsin Supreme Court campaigns.



11-10-10 Op-Ed by Rory O'Sullivan - Mortgage investors, regulators need to make sure banks do right thing - Perverse incentives and dysfunctional corporate bureaucracies within the country's largest banks have devastated the lives of Washingtonians.
Seattle Times

2-22-10 Cantwell's relentless pursuit: taming big finance by Kyung M. Song
It's not hard to find members of Congress channeling voter outrage by railing against greedy bankers, credit-card ripoffs and inflexible mortgage lenders.
But crusading against "dark market" derivatives trading? Agitating about the systemic hazards of mingling commercial and investment banking? Trash talking about the Obama administration's finance team? Seattle Times

4-14-09 Lobbying pays big, says study of tax bill In a remarkable illustration of the power of lobbying in Washington, a study released last week found that a single tax break in 2004 earned companies $220 for every dollar they spent on the issue – a 22,000 percent return on their investment. Tacoma News-Tribune

3-3-09 Truth-in-campaign bill should be passed Ever since a state Supreme Court decision in the fall of 2007, candidates pretty much have had a license to lie. Now, the state House of Representatives has passed a bill that once again would ban politicians from telling malicious lies on the campaign trail. The Olympian

3-2-09 Judges should recuse themselves from cases involving campaign benefactors Should a supreme-court judge hear a case in which the chief executive officer of the company being sued spent $3 million to help elect the judge? Seattle Times

4-16-10 Citizens United: People Strike Back  In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which opened political campaigns to unlimited contributions from corporations, the American people are demanding everything from legislative fixes to constitutional amendments to defend the integrity of our democracy. Yes! Magazine

3-5-09 Lawmakers ponder high cost of high court elections Elections watchdog groups say it's a disturbing national trend: special interest groups are spending more and more money in judicial elections, attempting to stack state judiciaries with candidates of their liking.

2-8-09 Money makes D.C. go round "Obama might want to change the system, but it won’t be easy. Washington is broken: Lobbyists and special interests have turned our government into a game that only they can afford to play. They write the checks, and the citizenry gets stuck with the bill. Politics is no longer a mission; it’s a business..." Tacoma News-Tribune

12-22-08 Sutherland's deal sure smelled like a payoff " response to the guest column by Rep. Sharon Nelson (Sutherland's sweetheart deal hurts us all) would be naive to think that Glacier Northwest had nothing but good citizenship in mind when it gave $50,000 to a group working to re-elect Doug Sutherland as State Lands Commissioner....letter by Terry Sullivan, Seattle P-I

8-5-08 Top donor gives big all along political spectrum "...People like the Nierenbergs are particularly important in Washington politics because of an unusual twist in state law..." Seattle Times

4-30-08 A plan for voter-owned elections Bob Ferguson "…For many citizens who contemplate running for office,the challenge of fundraising is an insurmountable obstacle..." Seattle Times

4-30-08 What Does Brown Bear Want From City Council? "The list of the top contributors to City Council candidates is mostly made up of …real-estate moguls, unions, and public-affairs consultants...But there's one guy on this list who doesn't fit." Seattle Times

2/27/08 Barrier to Entry "For a concept that makes good sense, public financing of campaigns has a rocky history here in Washington State..." The Stranger

12-18-07 Lawmakers play favorites; local merchant loses out "Doug Hoschek sells the Army's elite Special Forces a T-shirt that resists burning ...Another company snagged the contracts without having to compete." Seattle Times

7-07 Lobbying is big business in WA State Washington is sixth in U.S. for spending by special interest groups to influence lawmakers. Seattle P-I 

5-16-07 Colby Underwood and Me Crosscut gives us a glimpse of the inside story of Seattle political fundraising.

3-12-07 UW law professor examines judicial public financing William Anderson discusses the need for fair judicial elections. Seattle Times Op-Ed.

7-11-07 Voter-owned elections better for all "The demographic of the election-owning a white male of the business community..."
Seattle P-I  


10-20-08  Another example of special-interest influence by Craig Salins "It's time to buy back our democracy. We need to publicly finance these campaigns, so that lawmakers are not beholden to special interest campaign financiers and lobbyists, and instead can vote the people's interest..." ~

8-29-08 Support public funding of election campaigns by Ken Dammand "If elected officials of any stripe are ever going to be free to remove the insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry monkey from our backs, we the people must become the source of campaign funds…" Seattle P-I

1-4-08 Gridlock caused by moneybags by Marcee Stone "Gridlock is not because of partisanship but because of who rules the parties, and that would be the big contributors..." Seattle P-I


7-6-09 Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying: Firms Are Enlisting Ex-Lawmakers, Aides - The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.
The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight...Read more  Washington Post

6-18-09 Lobbyists Will Cast Their Lines During Baucus' Fishing Weekend Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus of Montana plans to take a break from the grind of crafting a health care overhaul to serve as a Democratic rainmaker with a few of his friends along the Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone rivers in the Treasure State this weekend... Yahoo News

3-23-09 Group looks to cut lobby money Campaign finance reformers are … pushing a new proposal to ban lobbyists from giving and to establish a public funding system that would cap contributions at $100 … Coalition officials believe they have several factors running in their favor, including populist rage over corporate greed and President Barack Obama’s past support of similar legislation. The coalition has the help of celebrity spokesman Sam Waterston of TV’s “Law & Order.”

3-3-09 Justice not for sale The Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that goes to the heart of the nation’s justice system and the rule of law: the right to a fair hearing before an impartial judge, untainted by money or special interests. New York Times

2-23-09 Of Pork and Payback "As we watch Senator Roland Burris take the lead role in the latest episode of “The Rod Blagojevich Show,” a question arises: Is there a substantive difference between a governor promising a Senate appointment in exchange for campaign contributions, and a member of Congress securing an earmark for the same — aside from a vulgar telephone call discussing the transaction? Perhaps not...." New York Times Op-Ed

2-17-09 Case may alter judge elections across the country "The question of whether Justice Benjamin should have disqualified himself is now before the United States Supreme Court. The case…has the potential to change the way judicial elections are conducted and the way cases are heard in 39 states." New York Times

12-6-08 Nasty judicial races renew complaints Michigan’s bruising contest was an 'orgy of negativity,' according to the Justice At Stake Campaign. Stateline

10-16-08 Program returns elections to voters Two opposing candidates explain why they both support publicly funded elections. Fayetteville Observer Op-Ed

7-16-08 Fannie, Freddie spent $200M to buy influence Over the past decade, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have spent nearly $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions. The two government-chartered companies run a highly sophisticated lobbying operation.

7-27-08 Industry Gushed Money After Reversal on Drilling Campaign contributions from oil industry executives to Sen. John McCain rose dramatically after the senator from Arizona reversed his opposition to the federal ban on offshore drilling. Washington Post

10/15/08 Campaign finance reform needed for state Supreme Court races "For the past two years, Wisconsin has had state Supreme Court races dominated by third-party special-interest ads..." LaCrosse Tribune

9-7-08 State Supreme Court Decision Under the Influence? The controversy over the West Virginia Supreme Court and Massey Energy. NY Times

4-15-08 The Selling of the Judiciary: Campaign Cash ‘in the Courtroom’ "Since retiring in 2006, Justice O’Connor has devoted herself to spreading the word about assaults on judicial independence..." New York Times

2-28-08 Bills Would Create Public Funding of Legislative Campaigns
"In an attempt to limit the influence of money in state politics, legislation before the Maryland General Assembly would give candidates the option of publicly financed campaigns..."
Hometown Annapolis

1-1-08 Independent Groups plow millions into Iowa races "...independent political groups are using their financial muscle and organizational clout as never before to influence the presidential race..." Seattle Times

12-10-07 Five Reasons for Public Financing "The election year hasn't even begun, but the nation's political system is already awash in record amounts of money, much of it spent to buy influence..." USA Today

8-19-07 Alan Simpson keeps high profile  "...all donors are 'giving for one singular purpose: access... Everyone was involved with it'..." Jackson Hole Star Tribune

8-26-07 Public financing would mean cheaper elections We can either pay for election campaigns directly, or pay for them indirectly...

8-15-07 My View: Time to clean up elections Opinion from New York, supporting public campaign funding.
Metro NY

8-14-07 Clearing the Air Editorial supports public campaign proposals in New Jersey. (may contain ads)

8-2-07 NC lawmakers approve expanding public campaign financing Lawmakers agreed to expand the state's voluntary public campaign financing program to cover three more statewide races next year.
Charlotte Observer

7-20-07 Public financing OK'd for Chapel Hill elections A bill passed by the North Carolina state Senate 35-9.  News & Observer

7-12-07 League of Women Voters urges public campaigns for Portland city races Democracy Reform OR

7-07 Full Public Financing in the Age of the Roberts Supreme Court  How the June 25th ruling against campaign reform affects the present state & local laws...Public

6-25-07 Court opens door for wealthy interest groups...Should corporations, unions and others with deep pockets be able to spend millions to influence elections? USA Today


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