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Citizens United may turn businesses into political parties: panel

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The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision could turn businesses into mini political parties, something that businesses themselves don’t want, said experts at a Washington economic development panel.

The Supreme Court brought down Citizens United in January of this year, effectively overturning a century of campaign finance laws and allowing unlimited, secret spending by special interest groups. That seemed like good news for special interest groups and corporations seeking friendly policies in Washington.

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But according to a poll (PDF) conducted by the Committee for Economic Development, a majority of business owners don’t look forward to spending ever-increasing amounts of money on elections in order to have their interests represented in Washington. And some feel that the blending of business and politics under the new regime will undermine both businesses and lawmaking.

Sixty-one of the business leaders surveyed by the CED said they felt pressured to contribute to political efforts, the survey stated.

Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College, told a CED panel last week that the new spending rules appear to be leading to a “political arms race” where companies are being pressured into spending money on elections that they would otherwise be spending on their business.

“This poll underscores what business people across America already know: the political system is broken and large amounts of money are flooding the system and corrupting the democratic process,” said Ed Kangas, a CED trustee and former CEO of accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

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“These huge undisclosed contributions that pay for campaign ads are distorting the political process and are a major reason why Congress has become so dysfunctional,” he added.

Corporate spending on elections “has become so blatant … that the American people have finally figured it out,” Kangas told a discussion panel last week.

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Speaking at the panel, Politico assistant managing editor Jeannie Cummings argued that Citizens United will turn some businesses and industries into political forces of their own, independent of any one political party. Cummings named ethanol and coal as examples of industries becoming “strong subsets of corporate parties,” according to Courthouse News.

DAMAGED CORPORATE REPUTATIONS?

According to DEC, two-thirds of business leaders polled agreed with the statement, “the lack of transparency and oversight in corporate political activity encourages behavior that puts corporations at legal risk and endangers corporate reputations.”

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Evidence that this is the case is beginning to emerge. This summer, retailer Target came under political pressure from some its customers — including calls for a boycott — after it was revealed the company had given $150,000 to a special interest group running ads for Minnesota Republican candidate Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay rights. Target’s CEO ended up apologizing for the move.

More than 75 percent of business leaders surveyed agreed that corporations should always disclose their political contributions, even if they are sent to third-party groups that don’t publish their donations.

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, which campaigns against corporate influence in elections, told the panel that undisclosed contributions amount to the “legalized bribery of our elected officials.”

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“Wertheimer supports increased small-donor participation with donations matched by public funds,” reports Courthouse News.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘Go look at President Trump’s Twitter’: Portland right-wing rally organizer claims ‘mission success’

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The organizer of a far-right rally in Portland, Oregon claimed the event was a "success" after President Donald Trump attacked Portlandiers protesting the group.

"A confluence of protesters on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum merged on Portland’s waterfront Saturday in a tense but relatively uneventful face-off that brought national attention, including a tweet in the hours before the protest by President Trump decrying the city’s signature anti-fascist movement," the Oregonian reported Saturday.

When a similar right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killed Heather Heyer, Trump argued there were "fine people" on both sides of the "Unite the Right" rally.

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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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