One of the best ways to understand why Congress does what it does is to follow the money. Take a look at which corporations and unions are donating to members of Congress who support their pet bills and you can start to see the networks of influence that partly control what legislation gets considered and how senators and representatives vote. Unfortunately, in our post-Citizens United v. F.E.C. world, following the money is becoming much more difficult. In the 2012 presidential contest, Super PACs, which do not have to publicly disclose where all of their money comes from, have officially overtaken candidate campaigns in election fundraising and spending. Any semblance of separation between Super PACs and campaigns has completely disappeared as well, meaning that the traditional, regulated and disclosed candidate campaign has basically been replaced by the unlimited, secretive Super PAC.
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The upcoming lame duck session is the last chance for Congress to require disclosure of unions, corporations and special interests that donate to campaigns, without limit, under the loopholes opened up by the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC decision. If it doesn't get done before the year ends, the Republicans, who have stood in lock-step against disclosure, will gain even more influence in Congress and the 2012 elections will be controlled by secretive special interests to a whole new level.Read Full Article
Congress Links for Thursday, July 29th - to be continually updated over the day. Senate Democrats call for fillibuster reform. (CBS News) Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) faces ethics charges around 1pm ET today: latest news and blog coverage on him from around the Web, aggregated here on OC. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee unsure if hearing over New Start arms treaty with Russia will occur. (NY Times, and Associated Press). Congress passed S. 1789 -Fair Sentencing ...Read Full Article
In the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend directly on political ads and in unlimited amounts, Democrats in Congress have proposed a legislative solution -- make the corporations paying for ads disclose their identities. It's call the DISCLOSE Act, or the "Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act," and it's been getting hearings in House and Senate committees in preparation for action on the floor.
An interesting issue was raised at one of the hearings recently by Attorney William McGinley. The bill, he warned, could lead to Federal Election Committee gaining new power to regulate political blogs.Read Full Article