In today’s Los Angeles Times is an interview by Patt Morrison with Daniel G. Newman. Newman is co-founder and president of a Bay Area-based organization called MapLight. This is an article that is well worth a read and a share or twelve:
MapLight’s database looks at big industries and big interests, their elected beneficiaries and their votes. “There’s a river of money that affects everything in politics, and candidates and donors don’t talk about it, so it’s left to MapLight and other groups to expose it,” Newman says.
Nice to know there are groups like Newman’s around to try to deal with the influence of Big Money on our elections. Here a a few excerpts to tease you into linking over to the whole piece:
The Supreme Court Citizens United decision said transparency was important, and supported the right of government to make political money transparent, but the decision interacted with existing law to create loopholes that allow dark money groups. So now it’s possible for wealthy individuals or corporations or other groups to spend an unlimited amount to influence politics, and do it in secret.
One indication of how broken our democracy is is that dark money could be ended by having transparent contributions. The authority already exists for the Federal Election Commission to simply compel disclosure, but the institution, due in part to lack of action by President Obama, is not functional. Or Congress could pass a law, but no one has acted. No branch of government has affirmatively chosen to have secret political contributions, yet we have them.
Newman goes on to say that Citizens United is “a magnification of the broken system where industries and interest groups have oversized weight — a whole new level of corruption of the system, but the same basic dynamics that were there before.” Bingo.
When you learn your lawmaker received a $2,000 check from an oil company five days before voting to implement a tax break for that oil company, it’s not complicated, it’s not mystical, it’s bribery that happens to be legal.