The gusher of secret money | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 8, 2010

The gusher of secret money

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 6:52 AM

It's wrong and it's poisonous and it isn't likely to be fixed soon. A deluge of secretly sourced money is pouring into political races as never before as the ruling business class sees an opportunity to install a permanent corporate government in Washington. We can thank, in large measure, but not exclusively, the Republican Supreme Court for the Citizens United ruling.

Even before the decision, corporations had significant latitude to sponsor what appeared to many voters to be political advertisements, as long as they fell under the guise of “issue” ads. Now, they can simply be more direct. But many heads of corporations and superwealthy individual donors who were not even part of the court case have taken away a much more simplified, overarching message, according to lawyers who advise corporations on election law and to political power-players soliciting giant checks.

“The principal impact of the Citizens United decision was to give prospective donors a general sense that it was within their constitutional rights to support independent political activity,” said Steven Law, head of the Republican-leaning group American Crossroads and its affiliate Crossroads GPS, which have emerged as major players in this election. “That right existed before, but this Supreme Court decision essentially gave a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.”

Many have cheered this unburdening of corporate voices. Sadly, they have not cheered transparency for the spending, which would mitigate a tiny bit of the damage. (In a breathtaking bit of hypocrisy recently, Citizens United cheerleaders at the Democrat-Gazette complained bitterly that corporate competitors of Walmart are able to spend money to support grassroots groups fighting Walmart expansion in U.S. cities without disclosing their financial involvement. Situational transparency isn't transparency.)

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