Dark money takes over the political process | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dark money takes over the political process

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 7:02 AM

click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-06-27_at_6.59.58_am.png
The Brennan Center for Justice has published a new report on the rising influence of secret money in political campaigns.

In a study of six states (not including Arkansas), the study found that fully transparent spending (where specific donors to political efforts are identified) had declined from 76 percent of money spent in 2006 to 29 percent in 2014.

This includes totally secret money and what Brennan calls "gray money," money laundered through a layer of committees in ways that finds it almost impossible, or very difficult, to trace.

This is the future in Arkansas, where corporate contributions to individual campaigns have been outlawed. Instead, the PACs are rising. Corporations give to PACs controlled by candidates. Special interests set up multiple PACs to make multiple contributions from the same sources to the same causes. And so on

The special interest money is going down to grassroots, too. In a California school election, the research found big money at the core of major spending, with people like the Walton billionaires spending freely to back their charter school agenda. The Waltons have done the same in Louisiana school elections. Prediction: Should Little Rock ever get democratic control of its schools back, you'll see dark money play a role in election of leadership. From the Brennan summary:

Six years after Citizens United enabled unfettered spending in our elections, the use of so-called dark money has become disturbingly common. Contrary to the Supreme Court’s assumption that this unlimited spending would be transparent to voters, at the federal level powerful groups have since 2010 poured hundreds of millions of dollars into influencing elections while obscuring the sources of their funding.

But it is at the state and local levels that secret spending is arguably at its most damaging. For a clear understanding of the degree to which dark money is warping American democracy, state ballot referenda and local school board contests may be a better starting point than the presidential campaign or even congressional races. As Chris Herstam, a former Republican majority whip in the Arizona House of Representatives and now lobbyist, put it, “In my 33 years in Arizona politics and government, dark money is the most corrupting influence I have seen.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • Ole Miss apologizes to Houston Nutt, settles his lawsuit

    Tom Mars, attorney for Houston Nutt, the former Arkansas and Ole Miss football coach, called my attention this morning to news that Nutt had settled his lawsuit against Ole Miss officials for speaking negatively about him despite a no-disparagement agreement with the school following his departure as head coach.
  • Environmental group finds agricultural chemicals in Arkansas drinking water

    The Environmental Working Group released a report this week that asserts that the drinking water for about 200,000 Arkansans contains unsafe levels of chemicals related to industrial agriculture. Another environmental group has used the occasion to call for Tyson Foods to do something about it.
  • Little Rock to reveal bid for Amazon headquarters

    Thursday is the deadline for cities to make a pitch for Amazon's second headquarters and Little Rock will unveil its proposal at a 10:30 a.m. news conference Thursday in the Venture Center in the city's Technology Park development on Main Street.
  • Additional allegations against pediatrician in sexual assault case

    KATV reports that police have increased the number of allegations of sexual assault against Dr. James Nesmith, a former pediatrician at Arkansas Children's Hospital and a staff member at UAMS.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation