No Funny Money

lessig:

For the last week, I have been fighting furiously something I was 100% confident about: that we would not make it. That $5M was too big. That I was mistaken in setting the goal to high. And that this incredible movement of now close to 25k contributors would stop.

This morning, at 4am, I was…

Typical story: Politician receives huge gifts from powerful special interest; special interest suddenly gets special tax breaks or other competitive advantages. Repeat ad nauseam.

lessig:

Ryan Grim and Sabrina Siddiqui have an incredibly important piece in the HuffingtonPost about the time Members spend raising money.

One picture captures it all. This is a slide taken from a PowerPoint deck, given to incoming freshman congressmen about how they are to allocate their time.

FreshmanOrders

lessig:

I’ve been a fan of Congressman Sarbanes (D-MD) (son of Paul Sarbanes) for sometime. I wrote about his Grassroots Democracy work in HuffPo last December. Today, Sarbanes did something critically important for the anti-corruption movement: He introduced, with a significant number of co-sponsors,…


Some excerpts from this long article:

"A decade ago, however, wealthy Democrats and Republicans began circumventing limits on direct campaign contributions by making enormous donations to political groups that were technically separate from campaigns but effectively served as their proxies, often by funding negative ads. In 2004, the outspoken liberal financier George Soros gave $27.5 million—then a record amount—to groups opposing President George W. Bush. The strategy provoked widespread censure."

By the end of July, the two biggest Super PACs allied with Romney, Restore Our Future and American Crossroads, had raised about a hundred and twenty-two million dollars. The most prominent Super PACs allied with Obama, Priorities USA Action and American Bridge 21st Century, had raised only about thirty million.”

"According to ProPublica, Americans for Prosperity and another conservative group have accounted for more than eighty per cent of spending by social-welfare nonprofits in the 2012 election cycle. Conservative social-welfare groups have already spent some seventy million dollars on television ads, whereas liberal groups have spent only $1.6 million."

It’s not like we’re going to be opening the cash spigots and influencing races across the country.
COO of the American Bankers Association, which is set to vote tomorrow on a plan to create a 501(c)(4) nonprofit – intended to, per the trade groups’ officials, funnel money into “six to 12 fiercely contested” U.S. Senate races. (via officialssay)

Another problem with our campaign finance system is the time spent fundraising rather fulfilling actual governmental duties. This is true for Congress as well. 

From NY Times:

Friday marked another stage in President Obama’s springtime metamorphosis into full-fledged campaigner: his first daylong trip out of the capital devoted solely to fund-raising. He gripped and grinned through five campaign events in Chicago and Atlanta…The 13-hour “money run” raised at least $4.8 million for the president’s re-election effort — more than $5 million if one counts a fund-raiser in Minneapolis with Michelle Obama.

Lawrence Lessig on how money is polarizing Congress, along links to other thoughts from Ezra Klein and The Economist. I’d encourage you to read his whole post, this is just the first clip:

lessig:

Anonymous at the Economist (because everyone at the Economist is anonymous) has weighed into the debate between Ezra and me with an important question, and an incomplete answer.

They [allow me this grammatical mistake so I don’t have to say “he or she”] rightly read me to argue that there…

Slate has a nice feature on how much of Super PAC money is spent on negative advertising:

Excerpt:

The Restore Our Future PAC, which backs Mitt Romney, has spent 97 percent of its $31 million against Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.