Doesn't it seem like there are more negative political campaign ads than ever before?
It's difficult to watch almost any TV without being bombarded with repetitive ads "paid for" by some group that claims to be just like you, or like someone you want to be, like "Americans for Prosperity" and its so-called "Prosperity Network." But you can help fight back.
With most everyone else tightening their belts as the economy staggers back from the meltdown caused by Wall Street gambling, who can afford to blanket our airwaves with scary "independent" political ads? Wall Street. But these fat cats are trying to hide their role in this obscene wave of mid-term election spending by funneling their profits through front groups. Together we can shine a light on their efforts to take control of our democracy.
How Did This Happen?
This explosion of big money on the airwaves is the result of a narrow majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, which George W. Bush helped stack with judges favoring corporate rights over the rights of individuals. Due to the Citizens United decision, this election season has been marked by literally millions of anonymous corporate dollars being channeled through cleverly-named commissions, clubs, committees, and groups. Such groups have been created to support politicians who will not strongly regulate the corporations funding these ads and will not pass laws requiring that they give working people like you and me a fair shake. We have to stand up to these special interests!
It's Not About Political Parties, It's About Corporations
This is not about which political party wins these elections (there are some disappointing candidates from both sides) -- it's about whether corporations are going to fully take over Congress and several states by misleading the American people. It's no coincidence that most of the ads are focused on the deficit -- it's plain that corporate-funded groups have done expensive polling and shared the strategy of echoing this message in 2010. But I am sure you'll recall that there were no big corporate-funded ads attacking President George W. Bush and his allies on the deficit when he squandered the $230 million budget surplus he inherited in 2001, enacted an enormous tax cut for the wealthiest few and a pittance of $300 checks for the rest of us, launched two incredibly costly wars without increasing taxes to pay for them, supported policies that helped outsource good-paying jobs to China, and then dictated that taxpayers bailout Wall Street after their unregulated gambling crashed our economy. No, in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008, as Bush prepared to leave office with a trillion dollar deficit, Wall Street corporations were not running public interest ads or using Political Action Committees to complain about the deficit. But with the recent decision of an activist Supreme Court, Wall Street companies and their CEOs are pouring hundreds of millions into "non-profit" front groups and using the deficit as one of their wedge issues to garner support for candidates they think will go easy on them while Americans are yearning for Wall Street to be fixed and for Wall Street execs to be held responsible.
When Corporate Front Groups Win, We Lose
If the corporate groups "win" this election, the American people will lose. The big corporations and their political representatives will use this as a "mandate" to cut government programs that help ordinary people, while ensuring that the richest get permanent tax breaks, that the poorest lose benefits, that the middle class lose health protections, that the outsourcing of jobs overseas continues, and that the privatization of our nation's defense -- including billions of dollars of "national security" spending to big defense corporations -- continues to expand.
We've already begun filing complaints with the Federal Election Commission against corporate front groups who are using their "non-profit" status to hide which corporations and billionaires are funding their political ads. We've also been busy this fall doing original reporting on the slippery Wall Street operators behind corporate front groups, like the American Action Network; the right-wing schemer behind the Citizens United decision and related efforts to overturn fair election laws; and other aspects of the misinformation campaign backed by corporate cash. Through our coalition work, we have also been supporting efforts to amend the Constitution to restore core democratic principles and put Americans before corporations, and we have been challenging claims that corporate "free speech" rights include a right to secrecy that trumps your right to know. Links to these and other articles are included below.
A Rare Request
We are asking you to do something we rarely ask, which is to please share this information with your friends, because the future of our democracy is genuinely at stake. It's easy to feel discouraged at a time like this, but if we give up, the Wall Street corporations will win, and not just this election but a generation of elections. We are going to need to come together, help tell the story of corporate spending and lies in this election, and use the truth as fuel to change course.
Please help support our work reporting on the greed and corruption behind the scenes in this election. We are also asking you to work with us in any way you can this winter to help push back against these corporate front groups and help restore the real promise of America: government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- not of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.
Thank you for considering these requests!
Lisa Graves, Executive Director, 608-260-9713
Below are links to some of our recent articles about outrageous election spin and corporate influence.
Here are some of our new special reports, prepared by the Center's Law Fellow, Brendan Fischer:
- More Action in America from the Network of Billionaires
- In the Center for Media and Democracy's break-through article on the American Action Network, we highlighted the resumes of the billionaires, corporate executives, and right-wing political operatives behind the group. Because Americans have a right to know more about who the guys trying to steal the election really are, we are profiling them, including former Goldman Sachs exec, Robert Steel. Read the rest of this story here.
- A Lot of Corporate Money, and Very Little Honesty
- This report shows the impact that Citizens United is having on this election season, including a last-minute $50 million corporate-funded ad blitz to support Republican House congressional candidates. Read the rest of this story here.
- James Bopp's Committee for Half-Truths in Politics
- Along with our special clearinghouse in SourceWatch on claims of "corporate rights" in our elections, we've been targeting the groups spearheading the corrupting influence of corporate cash on our democracy and public policy, including James Bopp and his Orwellian-named “Committee for Truth in Politics.” For more on Bopp and his efforts, read the rest of this story here.
- Anonymous Funds and The Founding Fathers
- The 2010 midterm elections have been marked not only by unprecedented amounts of anonymous corporate spending, but also by piously patriotic defenses of these corrupting expenditures. What would the Constitution's framers have really thought about unlimited amounts of anonymous corporate dollars influencing American elections? For more on this analysis, click here.
And, here are links to some of the other articles we've published this fall on election spin:
- The 60 Plus Association: A Corporate Assault in "Good-for-Seniors" Clothing
- Which Millionaire Fat Cats Are Backing the American Action Network's Ads Attacking Sen. Feingold?
- Political Ad Urges Nevada's Latinos Not to Vote
- Chamber Ads Distort Truth, Contain Falsehoods
- Jack Black Takes on Liars for Hire
- Larry Kudlow Calls for Campaign Ad Funding Disclosure
- Strange Brew From the Republican Governors Association
- Lies in the Name of the Free Market
- GOP Groups Far Outstripping Democrats in Election Spending
- The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" Decision Threatens the 1964 Civil Rights Act
And, two recent stories that expand on CMD's long-standing coverage of the influence of the Koch billionaires and Koch Industries:
- Koch-Funded "Americans for Prosperity" Astroturfs Regional Greenhouse Gas Program
- American Politics is Getting All Koch'ed Up
Your generous gift today will enable us to have the research staff we need to help fight corporate spin and spending. Please donate to help today. Even a small donation can help us tell the big truths. A donation of any size would really help and be much appreciated! Thank you!