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-By Andy Kroll, TomDispatch
This piece first appeared at TomDispatch. Read Tom Engelhardt’s introduction.
May 16, 2013- Billionaires with an axe to grind, now is your time. Not since the days before a bumbling crew of would-be break-in artists set into motion the fabled Watergate scandal, leading to the first far-reaching restrictions on money in American politics, have you been so free to meddle. There is no limit to the amount of money you can give to elect your friends and allies to political office, to defeat those with whom you disagree, to shape or stunt or kill policy, and above all to influence the tone and content of political discussion in this country.
Public campaign finance bill touted as Senate hearing looks at abuses in the NYC system
-By TG Branfalt Jr
May 13, 2013- Dozens of protestors filled the hallway of the Capitol with chants of "let the people in" during a Senate hearing on public financing of elections after they were barred from entering the public hearing. The hearing examined the abuses within the New York City taxpayer funded system. Just hours before, the Assembly passed its "Fair Elections Act" (A.04980-c) 88-50, mostly across party lines.
The system proposed by the Assembly Democrats mirrors the New York City system that matches campaign donations with $6.00 of public money for every $1.00 raised by a candidate. If implemented the legislation would also create an independent oversight board to oversee the finance process.
Law requires voters to show photo ID
May 30, 2013- MADISON, Wis. —A Wisconsin law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is constitutional, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 4th District Court of Appeals decision stems from a lawsuit the League of Women Voters filed challenging the mandate. The league argued the law violates the Wisconsin Constitution's explicit language on every person's right to vote. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess sided with the league in March 2012, ruling the requirement would disenfranchise voters who lack the resources to obtain photo identification.
The appeals court reversed his decision, concluding the league failed to show the mandate amounts to an additional qualification to vote and failed to show the law is unconstitutional on its face.
"From the start, we have defended the constitutionality of Wisconsin's voter ID law," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement.
-By Jim Hightower
May 11, 2013- Hide & seek can be a fun game for kids, but when huge corporations play it in our elections, fun becomes infuriating.
Last year, corporate interests sought to elect their candidates by hiding from voters. In all, $352 million in "dark money" was spent, the bulk of it by corporations that secretly pumped it into trade associations, "social welfare charities," and other front groups run by the likes of Karl Rove, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Koch brothers.
-By John Nichols
May 8, 2013- Mark Sanford’s comeback bid was never so audacious as America’s political gossip columnists would have us believe.
Yes, the conservative Republican once boomed as a presidential prospect, before drawing national headlines in 2009 when it turned out that he had not gone missing on the Appalachian Trail but had instead snuck off to visit a woman friend in Buenos Aires. Yes, revelations about the affair led to his resignation as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, to his being censured by the South Carolina General Assembly after a State Ethics Commission investigation into allegations that he had misused state travel funds and to his divorce from a popular South Carolina politico.
Huffington Post: Campaign Contribution Limits Broken Repeatedly In 2012 Election With No FEC Oversight
-By Paul Blumenthal
May 3, 2013- WASHINGTON -- In October 2011, John Canning, chairman of the Chicago-based hedge fund Madison Dearborn Partners, expressed his displeasure with President Barack Obama to the Chicago Tribune. "It's the populist economic policies of wealth redistribution and government control of all aspects of everyday life that I object to," he said.
Canning put his money where his mouth was, hosting a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that fall. And Romney wasn't the only benefactor of his largess. Over the course of the 2012 election cycle, Canning gave to as many federal candidates, political action committees (PACs) and party committees as he seemingly could find -- some 38 individuals and groups, all but two of them Republican -- ultimately distributing $276,000 in contributions.
-by Brendan Fischer
May 2, 2013- The right-wing network funded by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers is being revamped after the 2012 elections, starting with a new nonprofit called the "Association for American Innovation" that will act as a hub for funnelling undisclosed spending towards the Kochs' political projects. With ambiguous IRS rules and a deadlocked Congress, they might get away with it.
-By Ruth Conniff
April 30, 2013- It's "the most powerful organization in America that no one seems to know about."
Unlike David Koch of the Koch Brothers, whose cover was blown when a gonzo blogger named Ian Murphy (editor of the Buffalo Beast and a frequent contributor to The Progressive), impersonated him in a prank call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
The Milwaukee based Bradley Foundation operates off the mainstream media radar. Yet the group has made more than $530 million in grants and awards since 1985, making it a much, much bigger giver to rightwing causes than the Koch brothers. With more than $290 million in assets, Bradley is one of the biggest foundations in the United States.
-By Ian Millhiser
April 29, 2013- Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the conservative retired justice who provided the fifth vote to install George W. Bush as president, is now having second thoughts about that decision:
Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken [Bush v. Gore].
“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk Friday with the Tribune editorial board. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’”
The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation.”