41 industry leaders call on Congress to halt corporate ‘bribery’
WASHINGTON — Forty-one business leaders have co-signed letters sent to Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress voicing their opposition to Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that frees corporations to spend unlimited amounts on influencing elections.
“Is there a difference between campaign contributions and bribery?” said Alan Hassenfeld, chairman of Hasbro, Inc, who co-signed the letter.
“It is long past the time to stop requiring that our elected officials moonlight as telemarketers raising money for their re-election campaigns rather then devoting all their time to solving the problems before this nation,” he said.
The letter read: “As business leaders, we believe the current political fundraising system is already broken. The Supreme Court decision further exacerbates this problem.”
Signatories include current and former high-ranking corporate executives of enterprises such as Playboy Enterprises, MetLife, Ben & Jerry’s, and Delta Airlines, among others.
They appeared partly motivated by a desire to be left alone. “[M]any of us individually are on the receiving end of solicitation phone calls from members of Congress,” the letter read.
“Congress needs to spend its time working on the leading issues of the day, from reviving our economy to addressing our nation’s energy crisis to reforming the healthcare system,” it continued, arguing that Congress must be “swayed by the merits of policy without regard to the interests of campaign contributors.”
The executives urged Congress to embrace public financing as the best way forward, endorsing the Fair Elections Now Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT).
“With a strong public financing system in place, candidates will be not be consigned to a system in which constant fundraising creates conflicts of interest and leaves Members little time to do the job they were elected to do.”
The effort was organized by a coalition of consumer advocacy groups, including Common Cause, U.S. PIRG, Brennan Center for Justice, Change Congress, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign and Public Citizen — all of whom support public financing of elections.
The executives echo the criticisms of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who blasted the ruling Thursday in an interview with Raw Story, saying without campaign finance reform, “you can kiss your country goodbye.”
Grayson has already introduced six bills that seek to reverse the consequences of the ruling.