Show Me the Money!

American political strategist Donna Brazile.

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The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme court has opened the floodgates for cash from independent parties which is now flooding into the election. Donna Brazile explores the implications of this in her article today at CNN.com:
Brazile’s article contains some truly astonishing facts:

The Washington Post reported that “independent” political operations have spent $80 million so far, five times as much as in the 2006 election. The vast majority of that money is being spent on behalf of conservatives to defeat Democratic candidates in the midterms.

More than half of the money is coming from undisclosed donors with patriotic-sounding names akin to “Americans For Apple Pie” and “Lovers of the Stars and Stripes— and now it appears there is even evidence of foreign corporation contributing to Republicans in this election.  There is no way to find out for sure where the money is coming from, and no requirement to disclose the identity of contributors until a full year AFTER the election, if ever. But we all know Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie have organized much of this corporate effort to buy and control the levers of power in America.


Thus far, everybody seems a bit gobsmacked by the scope of this. It’s sort of come out of nowhere (though what did we expect, given that court ruling?) I haven’t even seen much commentary on it yet… just a general appalled silence and an undercurrent of deep alarm. For Democrats it’s sort of like coming home to find a “For Sale” sign on the lawn, and learning your estranged spouse has put the place up for sale without consulting you.


So.. .what do we think about this? What can be done about it?


About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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25 Responses to Show Me the Money!

  1. filistro says:

    I actually wonder if this strategy might start to backfire. Just look at this. It’s astounding.Yet even Nate in his latest Senate roundup hints at a certain law of diminishing returns, suggesting people are beginning to feel bombarded and battered by the sheer number of McMahon ads, which is actually now working to Blumenthal’s advantage.I wonder if this kind of overkill might get people’s backs up. Americans don’t like feeling bought, and they HATE being told what to do.Especially when the GOP is typically inartful and tone-deaf about how it throws around all this cash… as in W VA where Raeses’ people put out a casting call for actors to appear as coal miners in an ad, and specified IN PRINT that they wanted “hicky, rural-looking guys in plaid and denim.” Not smart, guys.

  2. filistro says:

    Here’s the story on those “hicky, blue collar actors” in West Virginia.Again, the mind boggles.

  3. The Real Mike Is Back says:

    I have some very liberal friends who, upon hearing the outcome of this case, organized to “reclaim democracy” and work to “pass a Constitutional amendment banning corporate personhood.” The goal is to ultimately reverse this ruling by law. Does anyone here really think that Is the most effective way to execute a political campaign in 2010?The Citizens United case was decided 10 months ago (January 21). Whatever the outcome, my very liberal friends failed to read the tea leaves. They should have anticipated a ruling against their wishes and worked within the law to execute their political agenda. This doesn’t mean a slam dunk for conservatives, either, as filistro pointed out. Television commercials until 10 years ago were effective because they cost a lot of money to execute (a high barrier of entry) and they were the most effective at conveying a message. Yankelovich has polled an all-time low for the effectiveness of 30 second spots. The means of production have fallen through the floor. Building a network or a community of like-minded activists is cheaper to produce and execute and generates a higher level of enthusiasm and engagement with people. Thus, diminishing returns on raising and spending lots of cash. I don’t honestly believe anything can be done about it, nor should it, as long as the current strategic realities continue to hold.

  4. shrinkers says:

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere how FOX seems to be pursuing a strategy of committing a coup by installing employees in high government positions. Citizens United seems to be a tool for aiding that coup.One factor in our favor is that the corporate sponsored TeaFOXers are opposed to the Turdblossom Faction. If there is a right-wing corporate takeover, the two talons will be at each others’ throats. It will be interesting to see the unlimited foreign funds they each pour into the war of the far far right against the far far insane right.Time to hone a dark sense of humor.

  5. shrinkers says:

    … and I wonder who is going to point out this influx for foreign money … to Justice Roberts? Who insisted it wouldn’t happen?

  6. Realist says:

    I wonder who believed that Justice Roberts believed what he said.

  7. Bart DePalma says:

    Fili:These are 538 groups, not corporations or unions covered by the Citizens United decision. The money which went to Dem 538s in 06 and especially 08 have now shifted to the GOP for two reasons – (1) investors and businesses do not appreciate being looted and (2) they, if not you, can read the polls and know who the new bosses are going to be.

  8. Bart DePalma says:

    Taking a hotel break after the Academia and before the Uffizi. The David is really something in person.Ciao

  9. filistro says:

    @ Bart… “new bosses!”Yeah, like anybody is going to be the “boss” of this group. As frustrating as being the head musher for a team of house cats pulling a little sled.Those suckers are just not likely to grasp the concept of “pulling together to make progress.” They’re more likely to tear each other to shreds.(Bart… watch your camera and your wallet around the Uffizi. The world is full of trickery.)

  10. dr_funguy says:

    @Bart,1) I notice you conveninetly ignore the issue of foreign funds going to US candidates.2)Do you have any evidence for:”The money which went to Dem 538s in 06 and especially 08 have now shifted to the GOP”or are you, as often seems the case, making shit up?

  11. shortchain says:

    dr_funguy,The money that went to Dem 501(c) orgs in 06 and 08 has been spent. They got what they paid for (access to the politicians they bought).The money in this season is going, primarily, into organizations that don’t need to disclose where it came from, to buy votes, not access.After all, with Republicans, you don’t need to buy access, if you are wealthy. They already have your best interests engraved on the inside of their eyelids.Bart is, of course, making it up, too.

  12. Jeff says:

    Bart — You’re dead wrong. The money that went to Dem’s in 2008 isn’t going to Republicans in 2010.But I excuse you because you’re in Italy and it’s hard to take time to research the facts when you’re sipping wine and eating pasta….================Once again, the left is believing what it wants to believe, and paying no attention to the facts. Unions give huge amounts of money to the Democratic Party (a wholly owned subsidiary?), corporations tend to hedge their bets.I’m sure I’ll hear from the usual suspects, saying “another assertion — where are the facts?OK, go to: http://www.opensecrets.org/indexp/index.php?cycle=2010&type=You’ll find that in 2008, independent expenditures broke down as follows (000 omitted):Total Independent Expenditures: 465,744Pro Dem: 137,877Anti GOP: 140,676Total: 278,533 (60%)Pro GOP: 24,969Anti Dem: 162,222 Total: 187,191 (40%)Ah, but I know you guys. You’re going to say that was before Citizens United. Rove is out there buying the election…..So what does Open Secrets report in 2010 to date? Surely the numbers have changed? And yes, they have….Pro Dem: 45,333Anti GOP: 7,872Total: 53,205 (65%)Pro GOP: 14,356Anti Dem: 14,475 Total: 28,831 (35%)And of course this doesn’t take into account all the fundraising from lobbyists that incumbents traditionally do, or the non-monetary “in kind” contributions made by unions in the form of precinct walking, member publication articles making endorsements, etc.By the way, California has never had a law restricting corporate campaign spending. The left hasn’t been terribly hurt….

  13. DC Petterson says:

    @BartThe David is really something in person.Yes. I am.

  14. Jeff says:

    With Bart out of town, somebody has to watch the ocean for signs of waves… ;-)You may have noted that Nate has the GOP chances of winning the Senate almost back to where they were pre-Delaware. Here’s what Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball says about the House:With the Crystal Ball shifting 21 House race ratings in their direction last week, the national picture looks bright for Republicans, both from a birds-eye view and also from a race-by-race perspective. This week we nudge three more Democratic-held House seats into more competitive categories, as we hone in on where exactly the GOP gains we have long projected will come from.

  15. Realist says:

    @Jeff,OK, so unions give much more to Democrats than they do to Republicans. That should come as no surprise, given that Democrats tend to favor the worker bees, and Republicans the senior executives.I must be missing your point.

  16. DC Petterson says:

    You may have noted that Nate has the GOP chances of winning the Senate almost back to where they were pre-Delaware.Note: Nate gives Dems a 76% chance of having at least 50 seats in the Senate. That measn he gives the R’s a 24% chance of getting a majority.Nate gives the Dems a 33% chance of retaining a majority of seats in the House. That means the R’s have a 67% chance of getting a majority in the House.Which means the R’s are less likely to take the House than the Dems are of holding on to the Senate. I’ve heard a number of Republicans crowing about their chances of getting control of the Senate. And the near-certainty that they will take the House. Yet according to Nate, the R’s are less likely to get the Senate (only a 24% chance) then the Dems are of holding onto the House (33% chance).Clearly, what should be happening is that the Dems should be shouting about their near-certainty of holding the Senate, and their excellent chance of them retaining control of the House. After all, this more likely than what the Republicans are dancing about.Spin is everything, isn’t it?

  17. Realist says:

    Adding to what DC said, if you do the overall breakdown of possible outcomes, you get these, in decreasing order of likelihood:R House, D Senate: 51%D House, D Senate: 25%R House, R Senate: 16%D House, R Senate: 8%Much to ponder there.

  18. shiloh says:

    @BartlesThese are 538 groups, not corporations or unions covered by the Citizens United decision. The money which went to Dem 538s~~~~~~~~~~hmm, perhaps you meant 527 groups, ehlol CO or vacationing in Italy anal retentive Bart still has visions of sugar-plums er (((538))) dancing in his head!>And having quickly perused the previous threads, thanx to Michael Weiss, shortchain, DC, Realist, shrinkers et al for easily making winger troll Jeffrey look like a complete idiot, as per usual! 😀GEICO caveman and Jeffrey, separated at birth, you decide. ;)carry on

  19. Jeff says:

    Realist wrote:@Jeff,OK, so unions give much more to Democrats than they do to Republicans. That should come as no surprise, given that Democrats tend to favor the worker bees, and Republicans the senior executives.I must be missing your point.===============Several points: 1. There is a disconnect between Donna Brazile’s claims and Open Secrets, which is non-partisan. Interesting?2. For all the kerfluffle about corporations “buying” the election in the post Citizens United era, it appears as if the independent expenditures balance hasn’t swung to the GOP, but to the Dem’s. Since the point of the original post was the horrors Karl Rove has unleashed, I thought it was precisely to the point.3. One might wonder if the R vs D ratio of union contributions is remotely representative of the sentiments of the working men and women whose money is taken from their paychecks, or if it is a case of union bosses not caring about what their membership thinks.I notice that nobody’s commented on the facts of the matter, just your standard talking point that Democrats favor the worker bees. I guess that’s why the worker bees seem to be planning to vote Republican this year…..

  20. Realist says:

    @Jeff,1. There is a disconnect between Donna Brazile’s claims and Open Secrets, which is non-partisan. Interesting?Not really. I expect there to be a gap between the words of partisan hacks and reality.2. For all the kerfluffle about corporations “buying” the election in the post Citizens United era, it appears as if the independent expenditures balance hasn’t swung to the GOP, but to the Dem’s. Since the point of the original post was the horrors Karl Rove has unleashed, I thought it was precisely to the point.I must be having trouble understanding the data you posted. From looking at the web site, I wasn’t able to see where those numbers came from, and so I don’t know exactly what they were showing. I interpreted it to be the number of union dollars going to the two parties.3. One might wonder if the R vs D ratio of union contributions is remotely representative of the sentiments of the working men and women whose money is taken from their paychecks, or if it is a case of union bosses not caring about what their membership thinks.One might. One might also wonder the same about corporate donations being representative of either a) their employees or b) their shareholders. Those sorts of gaps exist all the time.I notice that nobody’s commented on the facts of the matter, just your standard talking point that Democrats favor the worker bees. I guess that’s why the worker bees seem to be planning to vote Republican this year…..I can’t speak to the relationship between, say, union employees and their voting patterns, or non-union employees and their voting patterns. I can say that I have often voted against my personal short-term interests due to a desire to look at the bigger picture of the nation as a whole over the long term. People have odd reasons to choose who they vote for, especially if they aren’t hard-core affiliated with one of the parties.

  21. shortchain says:

    Jeff,As to how the union people feel about their dues going to subsidize political viewpoints they don’t agree with, it’s probably fairly similar to the low-level manager’s feelings on being forced to contribute to the company PAC so they can give it to somebody they don’t agree with.I used to be in that class of management, and it was expected of anybody who wanted to keep their job to contribute to their “good government PAC”. They took the money and gave it to candidates they wanted access to or who they thought would vote more money for their sector.Oh, and speaking of talking points, “union bosses” is precisely such a term. Union bosses are at least elected, and most unions are reasonably democratic in operation.The senior management of virtually every company, on the other hand …

  22. MoldyMe says:

    A little off-topic, but there’s a simple answer to funding of campaigns: If you can vote in the election, then you can contribute. However much you want to. Period. SCOTUS notwithstanding, notice that corporations can’t vote. Unions can’t vote. The Chamber of Commerce can’t vote. Would I prefer public financing? You bet, but this is fair to all and maybe even Rs would support it.Meanwhile, before this comes to pass, think I’d better donate some $ to Kendrick Meek in FL …

  23. Jeff says:

    @realist: “I must be having trouble understanding the data you posted. From looking at the web site, I wasn’t able to see where those numbers came from, and so I don’t know exactly what they were showing. I interpreted it to be the number of union dollars going to the two parties.”=========The Web site summarizes and totals ALL independent expenditures, not just by unions, and classifies them by whether they support a candidate (Smith likes puppies) or opposes a candidate (Jones tortures puppies). There are severe restrictions on how much money can be given directly to a candidate, or spent in coordination with a candidate. There are no effective restrictions on “independent” expenditures (free speech), so a rich person or organization can hire their own advertising team and run their own commercials. Or, they can give the money to somebody else to do the same. That’s what Karl Rove is doing, the Club for Growth, etc. It’s also what unions do, George Soros, etc.There’s huge unregulated money sloshing around, and the point is that by a 2 to 1 margin, it goes to either support Democratic candidates or oppose Republican candidates. The original post — and a lot of previous posts in other threads, have alluded to Republicans tying up with sinister, secret funding sources to spend huge amounts to “buy” this election.There are four basic types of entities who spend big money money on elections. 1. Individual candidates, who collect donations (with significant restrictions). Typically incumbents have larger campaign warchests. Dem’s have an advantage here. Republicans had the advantage in 2006. 2. National and state parties. Their donors have different and significant limitations. This cycle Dems also have the advantage, largely due to Steele’s inept running of the RNC. 3. Independent expenditures. If you had the money, you can run as many ads as you like, as long as you’re “independent.” That means you can’t coordinate with the candidate. (a wall made of tissue paper). 4. Self-funders. Ross Perot, Meg Whitman. They have no restrictions, other than the size of their wallet.The reason Dems typically have a huge advantage in independent expenditures is that most union spending is done this way, and unions spend 99% on behalf of Dems. Corporations tend to hedge their bets, and a typical corporate pattern is 55% to 45% (last cycle they went majority Dem). Corporations want to appear reasonably non-partisan (they may not be, but it’s good business AND they’re far more heavily regulated than unions). Unions have a different dynamic.

  24. Jeff says:

    DC Petterson said:”Clearly, what should be happening is that the Dems should be shouting about their near-certainty of holding the Senate, and their excellent chance of them retaining control of the House. After all, this more likely than what the Republicans are dancing about.”=======20 months ago the Republicans were barely fogging a mirror after two consecutive wipeout “wave” elections, and the pundits were talking about them being reduced to a southern and rural party in a permanent minority.In addition, the 2010 Senate seats up for election were evenly split between parties (18/18), while the 2012 and 2014 classes pose much better ratios (42D vs. 22R). In other words, a deathly ill party had no real chance of doing much more than, if they were lucky, adding one or two Senate seats.And in the House, figure the typical mid-term losses of 25 or 30 seats.The fact that the discussion today is about the odds of the GOP winning one or both houses would be a huge, almost unprecedented comeback. 35 House seats and 8 Senate seats would be a superb year for any party.And some analysts think the wave could go much higher. The recent Gallup numbers, if in the ballpark, would represent the best GOP year ever. Michael Barone, who is generally highly respected, says the analogy COULD be 1894 (R’s gain more than 100 seats), not 1994.I’m NOT predicting a tsumani. Republicans are dancing because even the low end of the prediction range represents a VERY good year, especially when they had been given up for dead, and the high end of the range would be unprecedented.I’ll dance if the GOP gains 35 House seats, 7 Senate seats, and the expected gain in governors and state legislatures. If you’re watching a football game and the other side has rolled up the floor for the previous two quarters and early in the third quarter you start at 3rd down and 15 on your two yard line, you feel pretty damn good if you fight your way to 1st and 10 on your 45. If you’re on your opponent’s 45 or 40, so much the better.

  25. shortchain says:

    Jeff,I think you should hold off on dancing until the actual, you know, impact of the election is felt.When a football game is over, it’s over. When the election is over, the real game is just about to begin. Perhaps some real thought* about the effects would change** your attitude toward the election.*Just kidding.**Really just kidding.

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