SCOTUS Handed Federal Elections to Special Interests

With Trump as the betting favorite to win reelection in 2020, left-wing organizations are in full swing across the country in a quest to turn the White House blue.  I wish I could say that Republicans were working as hard to reelect Trump but unfortunately with so many RINO elites still in office, I’m not certain that is the case.

One organization that bears watching in this election cycle is America Votes, a dark money 501(c)(4) political activist organization created in 2003 by a group of liberal operatives and longtime Democratic activists that included Emily’s List founder Ellen Malcolm, former Clinton official Harold Ickes, then SEIU president Andy stern and Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.  As a member organization of Democracy Alliance, the group uses labor unions, special interest advocacy groups and the drive-by media to help elect left-wing Democrats and attack conservatives and libertarian candidates and donors. And with so much at stake for Democrats, you can bet they will be in the thick of things.

Having no legal obligations to disclose financial supporters, the group keeps their donors list close to the vest.  However, it is safe to assume that those listed on their web page as “partners,” groups that include large labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU, National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers;  gun control organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign and the Gifford PAC;  abortion activists such as Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice America;  open border advocates such as La Raza and the Latino Victory Fund; left-wing environmentalist such as Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund,  along with your everyday left-wing organizations like the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, People for the American Way, Emily’s List, the Democratic Governors Association, and of course, George Soros, with a sprinkling of far-left Foundations,  provide a great deal of their funding.

GROUPS LIKE AMERICA VOTES AND OTHER DARK MONEY INTERESTS SET THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT UNHINDERED BY THE DRIVE-BY MEDIA.  Even the squabbling of Democrats and Republicans, socialist, Marxists, communists and conservatives has become a sideshow to the greater theater of plutocracy and plunder, so says Robert McChesney and John Nichols in their article, Dollarocracy: How Big Money Undermines Our Democracy, published in 2013 at Common Dreams.

Prior to the 2010 SCOTUS decision known as Citizens United, all monies spent in federal elections had to originate from identifiable human beings.  There were also restrictions on the amount any one donor could contribute to a particular campaign; and public disclosure requirements for donations over $200.  Corporations and unions were strictly forbidden from involvement beyond organizing contributions via regular political action committees.

Once SCOTUS enabled Corporations  to contribute to political candidates, money was no longer traceable back to an individual leaving the door wide open for foreign nationals to interfere, at least financially, in American elections.  Of course that would not be a problem if the Federal Election Commission, the body charged with overseeing campaign finance law, were a well-sourced, ferocious watchdog, developing rules to protect elections from foreign nationals and enforcing them.  Unfortunately the FCC is quite the opposite thanks to inaction built into its very structure by Congress.

Citizens United opened a chasm for foreign money to flow into our political process.   Businesses incorporated in America but owned by foreign nationals meddle can now use their money to influence election results. In addition, there has been a surge of contributions to Super PACs by so called ghost corporations that were created solely to make political donations and whose ownership is unknown.  Whether any of these corporations are ultimately foreign owned is anyone’s guess.

In truth most all large publicly traded U.S. companies have some degree of foreign ownership.  A recent Treasury Department survey estimated that around $6 trillion in stock, or one-quarter of the total market value of public US corporations, is ultimately owned by foreign nations.

Corporations operating as nonprofit under Section 50l(c) of the Internal Revenue Code have always been able to accept unlimited donations from individuals or corporations but before Citizens United were limited as to their federal political activity. Now, thanks to Citizens United and a 2007 decision, social welfare organizations operating under Section 501(c)(4) of the IRS Code and trade associations operating under Section 50l(c)(6) may, within certain lax seldom enforced limits, make independent political expenditures just like Super PACs.

The 501(c)(4) and (6) organizations are, in fact, a much more attractive avenue than Super PACs for anyone hoping to influence elections anonymously because they are not required to publicly disclose their donors.

In theory, both 501(c)(4)s and 501(c)(6)s have to keep any foreign money segregated and only spend funds from American donors on U.S. elections. In reality, the public has no idea whether or how they do this, since they are not required to disclose it. And since money is fungible, any foreign donations they use for operating expenses leaves more domestic contributions to spend on attack ads.

Source:  Cracks in the Dam, by Jon Schwarz and Lee Fang, The Intercept; America Votes, AV, Discover the Network

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *