Foreign Countries and Big Corporations Fund Mid-term Campaigns

By Ali Rawaf and Andy Wilson

This election cycle will be the most expensive midterm in US history. With money pouring in from big corporations and foreign entities, this election has become more about how much can a candidate raise than it is about debating the real issues at stake. It is estimated that more 80 million dollars have been spent this mid-term election with most of the money going into Republican pockets (6 times the Democrats) which is 80 percent more than what was spend in 2006 at this point. 5 billion dollars is the total estimate for the whole mid-term elections. I, and many others, attribute this mess to a recent Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which made legal for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money without having to disclose any information about the entity which made the contributions.

And voters agree:  Our elections are being bought and funded by corporate interests.  And it’s not just progressive activists: folks from the Tea Party are saying almost the exact same things as liberal activists.


The money is being channeled through individual groups like American Crossroads, run by Karl Rove, Bush’s former political strategist, and Ed Gillespie, former head of the RNC. Rove’s group has committed more than 5 and half million in tc ad buys, which is only ten percent of what the group promises to spend by November 2nd.  And then there’s the nice-sounding but actually shadowy and sinister Americans for Job Security, which has committed 7.5 million dollars so far, 88% of which went to supporting Republicans. Another one of these organizations is American Future Fund which gave every dime of their 6.8 million dollars to Republican candidates.

The Chamber of Commerce is also playing a big role in this mid-term cycle. The chamber is waging a campaign of attack ads against the democrats– but in this case with the Chamber, thanks to some super-awesome gum-shoeing, we know where the money comes from. Foreign entities. That’s right, a report published by Think Progress shows the Chamber of Commerce has received money from Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain, India, France, and many more countries. To that you should say, “I want my country back.”

Considering the Chamber’s major targets, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to question their motives: they were opposed to health care reform, climate change and clean energy legislation, and financial reform.  Of course, we can understand why the Chamber would protect the profits of Wall St and the Big Banks, and also why they’d oppose measures that threaten the profitability of the for-profit medical industry like, oh, getting rid of pre-existing conditions or placing a cap on the amoutn your insurance company can charge that goes directly to overhead and profit rather than medical care for their clients.  But the stickiest wicket is climate change and clean energy.  Sure the Chamber is protecting their friends in the oil and coal industries.  And birds go “tweet.” But why would they be taking foreign money to do this?  From China and OPEC countries?  Couldn’t be that China would prefer to gain a huge competitive advantage over us in the fastest-growing sector of the worldwide economy: clean energy technology.  Or that the Saudis and the state oil company of Bahrain would prefer that we continue to stay addicted to their sweet, light crude. Or that by opposing financial and health reform they can leave America broke and sick.  Nah.  I’m sure we should just take the Chamber’s word for it that they aren’t using any of their foreign money to fund these ads.

The ads these organizations are running give support mostly to Republicans in order to oust the Democrats. The main issues for which the Democrats are being attacked are the financial, health care, and energy reforms. This can slightly give us a glimpse of who is behind these big-bucks contributions and why they are spending all that money.  However, who the money is really coming from is unknown. Why? Because the Senate blocked the DISCLOSE Act by filibustering it. Couldn’t be because the undisclosed money flowing into the elections mainly benefits one political party over another.  </sarcasm>

The amount of money being given to Republicans has raised some concerns that they will take over the US House and (hold your breath) John Boehner (who once handed out checks on the floor of the House from Big Tobacco’s PACs) might become the new Speaker. In fact, the special interests have bet on Boehner winning– big time.  The Republican leader has raised more money than his Democrat counterpart, Nancy Pelosi– more than 7 million dollars (which is HUGE when you compare it to Pelosi’s 2.9 million dollars). Again, Boehner is getting most of his contributions from Wall Street, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers. All of these industries face new regulations proposed by the Democrats.Not only that, but Boehner, whose PAC is unimaginatively called “Boehner for Speaker” has promised “special access” to the Speaker to marquee contributors.  Not only is Boehner measuring the drapes, he’s picking out the color of the “For Sale” sign to put on the House. I personally think “Speaker Boehner” should pick up a red light to put in his window while he’s at it.

One other reform the democrats have introduced during this legislative session is the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA) which would lead candidates to depend on their communities in raising numbers of small contributions limited to 100 dollars. According to our friends at Public Campaign, “The bill would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists, and would be freed from the constant fundraising in order to focus on what people in their communities want.”  Think about it, if your candidate doesn’t have to worry about how much money he has to make to stay in office, he can focus on whats really important to you.

All this money from lobbyist has distracted your senator or representative from you, the voter. These groups expect a lot in return from your politician for the money they give him during the campaign. Your vote this November is more valuable than ever. Don’t give the big business the upper hand.  Along with your vote, tell your elected representatives that the reason you want them to go to Washington is to pass the Fair Elections Now Act.  That should be the first bill passed by the next Congress, or, if possible, passed even sooner during this Congress.

Sobering advice.  Remember, early voting starts today in Texas.

UPDATE: More from CNN: Outside Groups influencing political ads


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