How the rich buy elections | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How the rich buy elections

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Columbia Journalism Review has a good summary of new reporting by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker about Art Pope, a North Carolina multi-millionaire who — aided by the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and careful manipulation of rules governing nonprofits — has all but taken control of that important swing state's politics. He's spent $40 million over the last decade. Results:

Pope’s triumph in 2010 was sweeping. According to an analysis by the Institute for Southern Studies, of the twenty-two legislative races targeted by him, his family, and their organizations, the Republicans won eighteen, placing both chambers of the General Assembly firmly under Republican majorities for the first time since 1870. North Carolina’s Democrats in Congress hung on to power, but those in the state legislature, where Pope had focussed his spending, were routed.

The institute also found that three-quarters of the spending by independent groups in North Carolina’s 2010 state races came from accounts linked to Pope. The total amount that Pope, his family, and groups backed by him spent on the twenty-two races was $2.2 million—not that much, by national standards, but enough to exert crucial influence within the confines of one state.

We know how this goes, of course. The Waltons have purchased immense influence in Arkansas for far less — well, more if you count their university.

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