Tag: Super PAC

The White House For Sale By OFA

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

White House for Sale photo white-house-for-sale_zpsffe731a9.jpg President Barack Obama’s campaign organization, “Obama for America” (OFA), is being reinvented as as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt “social welfare group” that is not subject to federal contribution limits, laws that bar White House officials from soliciting contributions, or the stringent reporting requirements for campaigns. The goal is to raise $50 million  support of Mr. Obama’s second-term policy priorities, including efforts to curb gun violence and climate change and overhaul immigration procedures. Much like the alleged “grassroots” organizations, The Tea Party and Freedom Works, the new organization, now known as “Organizing for Action” (still OFA, so as not to confuse Obama supports), will derive most of its budget from a select group of donors who will each contribute or raise $500,000 or more. Sounds harmless? But wait, there’s more, as reported in The New York Times

But those contributions will also translate into access, according to donors courted by the president’s aides. Next month, Organizing for Action will hold a “founders summit” at a hotel near the White House, where donors paying $50,000 each will mingle with Mr. Obama’s former campaign manager, Jim Messina, and Mr. Carson, who previously led the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships. [..]

Many traditional advocacy organizations, including the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association, are set up as social welfare groups, or 501(c)(4)’s in tax parlance. But unlike those groups, Organizing for Action appears to be an extension of the administration, stocked with alumni of Mr. Obama’s White House and campaign teams and devoted solely to the president’s second-term agenda.

The new OFA, which would be among the largest lobbying groups in Washington, will supposedly stay out of electoral politics, advocating only for progressive issues which as the article notes may be easier said than done as the 2014 midterm elections near. It’s already drawing fire from Democrats and watch dog groups that are accusing the group of selling access to President Barack Obama. Cole Leystra, executive director of former Sen. Russ Feingold’s Progressives United group said in a blog post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

(I)t was exactly “what selling access looks like.”

“It’s embarrassing that the largest grassroots organization in history would abandon its own beliefs,” wrote Leystra.

“Organizing for Action should embrace its base of grassroots donors as a model of participatory democracy, not shun them in the dash to rake in huge contributions from a wealthy and powerful few,” he added. “We cannot return to the days of soft money — when unlimited corporate contributions blurred the differences between the two political parties, and resulted in policies that slammed average working families while rewarding Wall Street.”

In an interview with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, the president of the watch dog group Common Cause, Bob Edgar raised the main objections to the new and “improved” OFA:

The watchdog group Common Cause called on President Obama on Tuesday to shut down the nonprofit spinoff of his campaign committee, saying that the group effectively puts access to the president up “for sale.”

“If President Obama is serious about his often-expressed desire to rein in big money in politics, he should shut down Organizing for Action and disavow any plan to schedule regular meetings with its major donors,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “Access to the President should never be for sale.”

Apparently Pres. Obama thinks that since the Koch Brothers and Pete Peterson can get away with influencing and misinforming voters with massive media campaigns and its paid shills on every talk show spouting the company line, so can he. Don’t be fooled, these groups are all the same: certainly not “grass roots” and definitely not for the people, unless they’re the rich ones.

Contributions Are Killing Democracy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In January of 2010, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. However, the case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office.

Once again the US Supreme Court is about to weigh in on campaign finance agreeing to hear arguments in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission which contends that limits on what individuals are allowed to give candidates and parties and PACs is an unconstitutional violation of the individual donor’s free speech rights.

Supreme Court Takes Campaign Finance Case, Will Rule On Contribution Limits

by Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post

The U.S. Court of Appeals already ruled in favor of keeping the biennial limits, which have been in place since 1971 and were upheld in the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo case. By accepting the case, the Supreme Court is stepping into the thick of another controversial campaign finance case just three years after ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations and unions can spend freely on elections. [..]

Campaign finance reformers are already calling on the court to maintain the Buckley precedent and rule against the challenge in McCutcheon, for fear that any overturning of Buckley will eventually lead to future erosion of contribution limits and other campaign finance precedents meant to protect against corruption or the appearance of corruption. [..]

A ruling to overturn the biennial limits would not directly affect the amount an individual donor could give to a single candidate, but, thanks to the proliferation of joint fundraising committees, known as victory funds or committees, a candidate could potentially solicit a single contribution from one donor of up to — if not more than — $3,627,600.

In a recent segment of Moyers & Company, host Bill Moyers discussed how “big money” is destroying democracy with Dan Cantor, Executive Director of New York’s Working Families Party, and Jonathan Soros, co-founder of the Friends of Democracy super PAC and a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

“There’s so much money being spent, there’s so much cynicism about the system, but the evidence shows, in states that do have public financing systems, that candidates can run in those systems and win, and they do it by focusing on their constituents and small donors,” Soros tells Bill.

Soros and Cantor advocate for a New York State public financing system inspired by New York City’s publicly-funded program that makes it less financially prohibitive to run for city-wide office. “People should appreciate who gets to run for office when you have a system like this. Librarians run for office, ex-teachers run for office – not just people who have a rolodex of prospective donors,” Cantor says. “It’s good for the candidates and the voters alike.”

The Super PAC That Aims to End Super PACs

by Michael D. Shear, The New York Times

In the next four months, Mr. Soros and a small team at Friends of Democracy, the new Super PAC, are going to pick 10 to 15 House lawmakers whose records and public statements have not been supportive of what Mr. Soros calls a system of “citizen-led” elections.

In those districts, the new Super PAC will produce direct mail, telephone calls, Internet advertising and even a few television commercials aimed at making sure voters know the positions of the lawmaker

In addition, a separate sister organization will be picking a handful of campaign finance reform “heroes” who will receive some direct contributions to reward them for their positions.

If all goes according to plan, Mr. Soros is hoping to eventually demonstrate to politicians that there is a political cost for standing in the way of reform.

For sale to the highest bidder, the Unites States of America.

Elections: “Super PAC’s Upped the Ante”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

One of the people I am thankful for is Bill Moyers and his quiet, rational discussion of the problem that plague this country and the world on his PBS program Moyers & Company. In an interview with Trevor Potter, the former Federal Election Commission Chairman and  the lawyer behind the creation and functioning of Stephen Colbert‘s PAC, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow”, they discuss how Citizens United has effected, not only this campaign, but campaigns in the very near future with the influx of undisclosed money to Super PACs from very wealthy donors who want only to protect their influence in Congress.

Trevor Potter on Big Money’s Election Effect

Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter – the lawyer who advised Stephen Colbert on setting up a super PAC – dissects the spending on the most expensive election in American history. Many voices are claiming “money didn’t matter, Citizens United wasn’t a factor,” but Potter disagrees.

“Super PACs just upped the ante,” he tells Bill. “If you’re a senator and you have just been elected, or heaven forbid you’re up in two years, you’re thinking I don’t have time to worry about deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff. I have to raise tens of thousands of dollars every day to have enough money to compete with these new super PACs… And that means I need to be nice to a lot of billionaires who often want something from me in order to find the funding for my campaign.”

The transcript can be read here

Meet Your Billionaire Owners

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission opened the flood gates for millions of dollars of donations to political campaigns with virtually no oversight and no control. The Court sent the message that it was up to Congress to require disclosure of donations to political campaigns. So far, that has not worked out so well. But some members if the traditional and nontraditional media have taken the matter into their own hands and made public the names of the largest donors to mostly the coffers of the GOP and their radical agenda.

Most of those donors are billionaires who have only their own wealth and self-interest at heart over the needs and rights of the 99.9%. Yeah, damned some of those puny millionaires, too.

ProPublica, an independent, non-profit investigative internet news site along with PBS’ Frontline did an expose of one of those billionaires, formerly one of the most secretive, Sheldon Adelson. The article takes a look at Mr. Adelson’s casino holdings in Macau and possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act:

Where competitors saw obstacles, including Macau’s hostility to outsiders and historic links to Chinese organized crime, Adelson envisaged a chance to make billions.

Adelson pushed his chips to the center of the table, keeping his nerve even as his company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in late 2008.

The Macau bet paid off, propelling Adelson into the ranks of the mega-rich and underwriting his role as the largest Republican donor in the 2012 campaign, providing tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other GOP causes.

Now, some of the methods Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators, according to people familiar with both inquiries.

Internal email and company documents, disclosed here for the first time, show that Adelson instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.

The company’s general counsel and an outside law firm warned that the arrangement could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It is unknown whether Adelson was aware of these warnings. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars American companies from paying foreign officials to “affect or influence any act or decision” for business gain.

Federal investigators are looking at whether the payments violate the statute because of Alves’ government and political roles in Macau, people familiar with the inquiry said. Investigators were also said to be separately examining whether the company made any other payments to officials. An email by Alves to a senior company official, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, quotes him as saying “someone high ranking in Beijing” had offered to resolve two vexing issues – a lawsuit by a Taiwanese businessman and Las Vegas Sands’ request for permission to sell luxury apartments in Macau. Another email from Alves said the problems could be solved for a payment of $300 million. There is no evidence the offer was accepted. Both issues remain unresolved.

Steve Engelberg, managing editor at ProPublica, talks with Rachel Maddow about the reporting in a new ProPublica/Frontline PBS collaboration looking into the questionable dealings behind the Macau-based casino fortune of big-money Republican donor Sheldon Adelson

Campaign Finance Game: Stephen Goes Stealth

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Colbert Super PAC – Trevor Potter & Stephen’s Shell Corporation

do accutane cause depression Trevor Potter helps Stephen create his own shell corporation so that he can obtain secret donations for his Super PAC.

Stephen get schooled in how to game the campaign finance system by creating a 501(c)(4):

dove comprare viagra generico 100 mg pagamento online a Roma 501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=prednisone-prescription 501(c)(4) organizations may lobby for legislation, and unlike 501(c)(3) organizations they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as campaigning is not the organization’s primary purpose. The tax exemption for http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=levitra-generico-online-prezzo-pi%C3%B9-basso 501(c)(4) organizations applies to most of their operations, but contributions may be subject to gift tax, and income spent on political activities – generally the advocacy of a particular candidate in an election – is taxable.

Contributions to go to link 501(c)(4) organizations are not deductible as charitable contributions for the U.S. income tax. http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=buying-generic-free-levitra-cheap 501(c)(4) organizations are not required to disclose their donors publicly. This aspect of the law has led to extensive use of the go to site 501(c)(4) provisions for organizations that are actively involved in lobbying, and has become controversial. In 2010, a bill (the DISCLOSE Act) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that addressed identification of donors to organizations involved in political advocacy, but the bill failed to pass in the Senate.

The entire transcript is below the fold but here is the punch line(s):

enter SC: Can I take this C-4’s money and then donate it to my Super PAC?

go here TP: You can.

source site SC: Well,wait. Super PAC’s are transparent.

http://buy-generic-clomid.com TP: Right, right

key buy propecia cheap SC: And the C-4 is secret

TP: Umhmmm

SC: So I can take secret donations of my C-4 and give it to my supposedly transparent Super PAC.

TP: And it’ll say given by your C-4

SC: What is the difference between that and money laundering?

TP: Hard to say.

Where Stephen Thanks His Super PAC Contributers

Stephen thanks his contributors to his Super PAC with a special call out to Suq Madiq, his dad, Liqa Madiq and his mom, who still uses her maiden name, Munchma Quchi. He did warn his affiliates he was going “low”.