He and several other high-ranking senators were “joined by several K Streeters,” the article said.
K Streeters…what’s that?
I guess we must be talking about the leeches of the political system.
Last November the Nation had an article called Looking for Kabul-Style Corruption? Try K Street.
The article starts off like this:
“A top government official with energy-industry holdings huddles in secret with oil-company executives to work out the details of a potentially lucrative “national energy policy.” Later, that same official steers billions of government dollars to his former oil field–services company.”
Also in the article we’re told that the group Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International ranks America as 17th “in the least-corrupt sweepstakes.”
The big reason we come in so low on the least-corrupt list is because, “from fraud and embezzlement charges to the failure to uphold ethical standards, there are multiple cases of corruption at the federal, state and local level.”
How did things get so bad?
Well, it’s no secret – in 2010 “Citizens United undammed the wealth of the super-rich and their enablers, allowing big donors…to use their millions to influence government policy.”
The impact of Citizens United was clear as far back as 2012. Here’s what the Brennan Center at the NYU School of Law had to say:
“Citizens United’s immediate impact was substantial. In one swift stroke, the Court overturned at least twenty years of its own precedent, rendered unconstitutional more than sixty years of federal law restricting corporate electioneering expenditures, and annihilated the statutes of twenty-two states that previously prohibited election spending from corporate general-treasury funds.”
So with one fell swoop of the pen, one ruling by our most highest of courts, corruption in America was able to flourish.
And why would Congress want to overturn that ruling?
Oh, you might get folks like Jon Tester telling us that Citizens United is bad (when the cameras are rolling, of course) but when no one’s watching or listening he and others like him will go off to their fancy retreats to sidle up to the big money donors whose money they’ll take and whose agendas they’ll push.
Many blame dark money for taking out Ed Sheehy when he ran for the Montana Supreme Court in 2012.
From 2010 to 2014 “outside spending more than doubled” in our Senate elections, reaching $486 million.
“Small donors don't play a role: In most cases, fewer than 1% of all contributions are $200 or less.” We’re told that “the average contributions are in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
We know that Super PACs donated $1 billion to candidates between 2010 and 2014, and “more than $600 million of that total has come from just 195 donors and their spouses.”
You’re telling me that those super-donors don’t have influence…aside form the single vote they cast in November?
Please – don’t take me for a fool.
And yet that’s exactly what Congress and many in statewide races do – they take us for fools, thinking that we don’t know that rich people and their money are more important than us, the common citizens.
In the 2014 mid-term elections, $170 million was spent by dark money groups that weren’t required to disclose their donors.
Most of the time these ultra-rich mask their donations in 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations and 501 (c)(6) trade associations, groups that “aren’t supposed to have politics as their primary purpose.”
But they do, and you and I pay for it by having representatives in Washington and often at the state level that don’t care about us or our concerns, only the concerns of the rich people that give them money.
That’s politics today and it makes me sick.
We all know how Jon Tester worked with dark money groups in 2012 to keep his Senate seat.
The dark money group was called Montana Hunters and Anglers, which conveniently had Jim Messina as a partner.
Barrett Kaiser served as the group’s board while its treasurer was a Hilltop Public Solutions employee based out of Billings.
“Hilltop partners in Washington also helped run two other dark money groups that spent money on the Montana race: the Citizens for Strength and Security Fund and the Partnership to Protect Medicare.
The League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana paid management fees to Hilltop.”
Montana Hunters and Anglers ran a bunch of ads encouraging people to vote for the third party candidate, effectively taking away votes from Tester’s Republican opponent.
More than $51 million was spent on the Montana Senate race that year by “candidates, parties and independent groups,” and all to “win over fewer than 500,000 voters.”
We know that “almost one quarter of that was dark money.”
This is what ProPublica had to say about it in 2013:
“In many ways, Montana was a microcosm of how outside spending worked nationally, but it also points to the future. Candidates will be forced to start raising money earlier to compete in an arms race with outside groups. Voters will be bombarded with TV ads, mailers and phone calls. And then on Election Day, they will be largely left in the dark, unable to determine who's behind which message.”
We know that “liberal outside groups” spent $10.2 million on the 2012 Montana Senate race.
That was “almost as much as conservatives” and we also know that “conservatives spent almost twice as much from anonymous donors.”
And there’s the handle – Republicans are doing it so why can’t we?
Kind of like something you’d hear on the school playground, huh? But mom…Billy jumped off the cliff into shark-infested waters…why can’t I!?!
In total in 2012, $5.1 billion was spent by candidates and parties nationally, with “almost 700 outside spending groups” dumping in more than $1 billion.
We also know that $322 million of that was dark money, meaning we have no idea who gave it, mainly because most of it was masked behind 153 “social welfare nonprofits.”
One of those groups is Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, which “doesn’t report its donors for election spending.”
What they did do in 2012, however, was target 41,000 women voters, make 162,000 phone calls, and send out 470,000 pieces of mail.
“Tester said the Montana race made clear that candidates will have to raise money sooner, and go up with TV ads faster. Although uncomfortable with outside money, Tester also said it's just the way things are now, even on the liberal side.
"I mean, look, they did it," he said. "And with as many ads that were against me, I was glad they did. But it needs to be transparent. I mean, everybody's needs to be transparent... It's important to know who's spending money on who so you know why they're doing it. And the way the system is set up right now, there is no transparency. Very little."
Much like Tester’s talk of helping veterans, however, when it comes to campaign finance reform nothing ever gets done.
- In November 2014 Tester put forth a bill to expose dark money groups. It went nowhere.
- In January 2015 he put forth a reform package. It went nowhere.
I guess you could say he’s trying, but if that’s the case…why is he off in Florida at a K Streeter retreat?
To take it a step further…if 83% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans support overturning Citizens United then why hasn’t it been overturned?
I can’t help but think it’s because the politicians will say one thing and then do another.
They’ll say they want to get rid of dark money and PAC money, but then when the cameras stop rolling they go off to their fancy retreats and raise as much of it as they can.
If they don’t raise it personally they don’t bat an eye when anonymous, outside groups come in and start throwing money around on their behalf.
So long as there’s no coordination between their campaign and the outside groups…why does it matter?
- It’s wrong.
- It’s corrupt.
- It’s immoral.
Alas, those things don’t really matter anymore. Indeed, they’re often seen as exceptional character qualities!
That’s politics today and boy does it make me sick.
Good Jobs Montana is some kind of “independent political action committee” formed to support Bullock and so far they’ve spent $850,000 this year attacking Gianforte.
We know that the Good Jobs Montana PAC is “funded by the Democratic Governors Association,” the same group that Bullock headed-up for the past year.
Again, this makes me sick.
Politicians raise tons of money from the rich and well-off and then give that to media companies to turn into ads, then pay other media companies to run those ads.
You’re telling me there’s no agenda here?
We know the agenda of the politicians – win at all costs.
But what’s the agenda of all those dark money groups that are giving?
Because I’m not stupid, I have to assume it’s a ‘you rub my back and I’ll rub yours’ kind of situation.
People give money to politicians because they want something. Small donors want a better life for themselves and their kids.
Those PACs and the ultra-rich, however, want to push their own personal agendas so that they can attain more wealth and power.
Those are the 7 deadly sins, but we don’t think much about them.
I doubt the ultra-rich and their PACs do.
And why should they?
Their money has bought and paid for everything else, after all.
And it’ll continue to.
This is politics today. We like it. We like our system to be corrupt, and for the rich and well-off to have more say than us.
We like it…and that’s abundantly clear in how little we do to make it change.
We could vote differently, but when both Ds and Rs are sucking from the same corporate trough, why’s it matter?
Nothing will change.
We make sure of that every time we vote.