Thursday, October 28, 2010
Common Cause: Money already buying elected officials
by Larry Geller
Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause and a former Pennsylvania Congressman, appeared on Democracy Now this morning (catch it on Oahu at 10 p.m. on channel 56, tomorrow (Friday) at 7 a.m. on channel 54, or at democracynow.org).
Edgar’s remarks are very worth viewing or reading in their entirety. Here is just a small snip to encourage you:
At $4 Billion, Midterm Elections Poised to Become Most Expensive Non-Presidential Vote in US History (Democracy Now, 10/28/2010)
BOB EDGAR: Well, this is the most expensive election. Money is actually going to buy our elected officials in this cycle. When I served in Congress from '75 to ’87, money was important, but the special interest groups came in with their talking points first and then came in with the money. Now they come with the money first. And because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, where the Supreme Court, on a vote of five to four, gave corporations and labor unions the ability to dip into their personal corporate treasuries and spend those for and against particular candidates, we've seen an explosion of money into the political system.
And one of my concerns is not only the amount of money that’s being spent, but the threat of money that can be spent. If I’m the congressman from suburban Philadelphia and I represent Boeing Vertol, and they make Chinook helicopters, they perhaps don’t like the way I voted, they can come into my office and, without really saying anything, they can just look me in the eye and thank me for being a congressman and be concerned about a vote that I cast on healthcare or on the banking issues and simply say, "We haven’t been involved in your campaign, but if you don’t change your positions, we have that opportunity now, given Citizens United." I think it’s outrageous, the amount of secrecy, the amount of money, the amount of foreign corporations that can invest for or against a particular candidate. I think we’re going to see over the course of time, if it’s not controlled, if it’s not—if we don’t find a way to put handles on this, we’re going to not only see more explosions of money, but you’re going to have a Congress made up of those supporting the energy companies, the healthcare industry and foreign corporations more than public citizens.