Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mystery funds undermine democracy

Welcome to the new Wild West of campaign finance the Supreme Court has ushered in. Citizens United is Bush v. Gore on steroids: The 5-4 ruling by an activist, right-wing majority held that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as actual citizens.

The decision that corporations can use their general treasury funds for unlimited political expenditures, added to an earlier ruling striking down reasonable restrictions on "issue ads" that air close to elections, threatens not only the 2010 political landscape but our democratic core.

The real-world results of that decision are becoming clear. The new "super PACS," with friendly names like Americans for Prosperity, are the favored conduits for the torrent of unlimited corporate cash drowning out the voices of ordinary people.

A wave of investigations shows that much of this money comes from a small circle of very wealthy, conservative individuals and corporations. Their millions are being spent at the direction of political operatives such as Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, who are determined to buy what they cannot win.

And for the first time in decades, that money may be coming from foreign corporations, including some controlled by foreign governments. The Chamber of Commerce will spend $75 million this year to defeat Democrats.

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