Jun 25, 2012
In the wake of a Supreme Court decision striking down a century-old ban on corporate campaign spending in Montana, Congressman Ted Deutch sent this message to supports of the OCCUPIED Amendment:
In 1912, Montana voters responded to widespread political corruption and passed a law banning corporate spending in their elections. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that law, and in doing so, dealt a powerful blow to our democracy.
The five justices behind today's decision could have reversed their ruling in Citizens United, which has led to the unprecedented flood of corporate-backed cash pouring into this year's elections. They could have reaffirmed the right of the American people to limit the influence of money in politics.
Instead, the Supreme Court doubled down on the dangerous notion that corporations are people with a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections.
What this ruling tells us is that we cannot rely on the Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United. It will be up to us to return our elections and our government to the American people by amending the Constitution.
With your help, we can turn a sad day for our democracy into one that recharges a nationwide movement in support of the OCCUPIED Amendment. Invite a friend to co-sign the OCCUPIED Amendment petition today by:
Even in 1912, everyday Americans understood the danger posed by letting corporations buy our elections. Yet in 2012, it seems the Supreme Court has no intention of acknowledging how corporate cash corrupts our elections and threatens our democracy.
You can also show your support for my work to overturn Citizens United by donating $19.12 to my re-election effort today.
The fight for a democracy run by and for the people is one I will never give up on, and I know you won't either.
Let's seize upon today's Supreme Court decision to reignite this movement.
Apr 1, 2012
WASHINGTON – In just a few months, they've become titanic players in Florida's political game: So-called Super PACs and the nonprofit groups that fund them have spent millions to fill the airwaves with attack ads designed to discredit politicians they oppose.
In the latest version, a self-styled conservative alternative to AARP launched ads this week accusing Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of backing creation of "a board of 15 un-elected, unaccountable bureaucrats" to cut Medicare and potentially ration care, deny treatment and prevent patients from keeping their doctors.
Now South Florida Congressman Ted Deutch and some fellow liberal Democrats are taking on this barrage of ad spending, starting with a demand that the IRS investigate some of the nonprofit groups that anonymously provide the Super PACs with much of their money.
From Deutch's standpoint, taxpayers are subsidizing these attacks because the nonprofit groups get a tax break for supposedly serving the public welfare.
"There's been an unfortunate history of efforts to make sure Florida's votes don't count," Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said in an interview this week. "Given that history, it's clear why people here would be especially concerned about efforts undertaken by Super PACs and the corporations that fund them to dictate the outcome of elections."
He and other would-be reformers face formidable opposition from those who say these groups have a right to express their views on Medicare, the national debt and other matters of public interest.
The issue will heat up next week when Deutch and some fellow congressional Democrats plan to prod the IRS to investigate these groups to see if some have crossed the legal line. The House members will also urge President Barack Obama to appoint five new commissioners to the six-member Federal Election Commission, hoping they will deal more aggressively with complaints about Super PACs and other controversies.
The terms of five commissioners have expired, but they remain on the FEC until they are replaced. All were appointed by formerPresident George W. Bush.
"We count on the FEC to be the public's watchdog," Deutch said, "and right now that watchdog has no bite."
Super PACs, created in the aftermath of a controversial Supreme Court decision in 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and can spend unlimited amounts to praise or attack political candidates.
They spent about $17 million in Florida leading up to the state's Jan. 31 primary, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington watchdog group that tracks political spending. Nearly $11 million came from Restore Our Future, a Super PAC supportive of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, mostly to pay for ads attacking his rival Newt Gingrich. Winning Our Future, a Super PAC backing Gingrich, spent $5.4 million.
Super PACs are prohibited from coordinating their efforts with a political campaign. And they must disclose their donors to the FEC.
But nonprofit groups — known as 501(c)4 organizations — are able to buy ads or funnel money through Super PACs without disclosing their donors.
Critics say these groups allow wealthy individuals and corporations to secretly spend unlimited amounts to try to sway elections. Defenders say they are designed to influence public opinion about issues or actions in Washington, not elections, and that they typically are funded by lots of small donations.
"I've got a quarter-million donors," said James Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, a nonprofit group that bills itself as "the conservative alternative to AARP." "Until they repeal it, we're going to go by the law."
Martin said his group was playing by the rules when it unleashed a $3.5-million ad campaign attacking Nelson and four other Senate Democrats because of their support for the new health care law, which takes full effect in 2014. All five of these senators face tough re-election campaigns this year.
The ad focuses on an advisory board set up by the law to find ways to restrain the growth in Medicare spending. The law's defenders note that Congress must confirm the board members and can reject their recommendations in favor of other savings — and that the law specifically prohibits rationing of care.
"Is this a political ad? No, I think it's an issue ad," Martin said. "We're talking about an issue. I'm not calling for the election of, nor the defeat of [anyone.] We're just trying to put a little heat on certain senators right now."
Some donors have reasons to remain anonymous, he said.
"A lady in New York gave us 63 donations over six years — $25 here, $50 there," Martin said. "She's probably given us a couple thousand dollars, if I totaled it all up. But she doesn't want to get inundated with mail from the RNC [Republican National Committee] and all these other groups."
Nelson's spokesman had no comment except to point to a statement on the senator's website calling the 60 Plus Association "a shadowy front group, backed by undisclosed conservative donors."
Opinion polls show public alarm about the role of money in politics, but efforts to change the rules or tighten enforcement almost certainly will falter this year. Republican leaders oppose proposed reform, and Obama has not made the cause a priority.
"It's not a fight they [White House officials] think is worth having. They don't care about campaign-finance enforcement that much," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-partisan watchdog group. "Yet the public is reading about problems with campaign financing every day, and nothing is happening.
"I think a lot of Americans are distressed about it, even if the president is not."
Mar 13, 2012
Congressman Deutch is proud to support Resolutions Week, an effort by People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Move to Amend, and other grassroots organizations committed to restoring our democracy.
As he champions the OCCUPIED Amendment in Congress, you can take this effort to the grassroots level by passing a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment in your home town. By signing up, national organizers will get in touch with you and provide you with resources along the way.
Every city council, county commission, or state legislature that passes a resolution in support of amending the Constitution brings us one step closer towards creating a democracy that works for all of us - not just corporations and a few wealthy billionaires.
Mar 2, 2012
One night last month,
strode into a dining room above Central Park that was packed with dozens of his wealthiest supporters, gathered there by a group of former campaign aides, to talk about his bid for the White House.
The event was not a fund-raiser for Mr. Romney’s campaign, however, but for Restore Our Future, a political action committee founded by his allies. And only when Mr. Romney left the room did one of the group’s officials stand up to brief the donors on their plans: to raise and spend millions of dollars in unrestricted campaign donations — something presidential candidates are forbidden to do themselves — to help elect Mr. Romney president.
Mr. Romney’s appearance underscored the increasingly blurry line between presidential candidates and the so-called Super PACs that have proliferated since a 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowed independent groups to raise unlimited amounts to promote candidates.
Most of this year’s presidential candidates are now backed by one or more dedicated Super PACs. Unlike the broad-based independent groups backing multiple candidates that flooded last year’s Congressional elections with negative advertising — playing a role similar to that of traditional party committees — the new groups are each dedicated to the election of a single candidate.
The groups are typically founded by the candidates’ former aides, financed by the candidates’ top donors and implicitly blessed by the candidates themselves. And they are quickly beginning to rival the candidates’ own money operations in size and scope, setting off a fund-raising arms race that is changing the way presidential campaigns are financed and executed.
Read the entire article at nytimes.com
Jan 19, 2012
Two years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations and the super wealthy have the right to spend unlimited and undisclosed amounts of money in our elections, legal scholars and public interest groups alike warned that all laws limiting money in politics would soon be under attack. Unfortunately, they were right.
The Republican National Committee is now arguing in court that Citizens United did not go far enough, and that our century-old ban on direct corporate giving to politicians is unconstitutional (read about it here). Sharing this warped view is none other than Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, who despite appearing at multiple fundraisers for his Super PAC, recently said in a debate, "We would all like to have Super PACs disappear, to tell you the truth. Wouldn't it be nice to have people give what they would like to campaigns?"
Apparently, the RNC and Mitt Romney want a free-for-all elections system in which corporations and the super wealthy can buy even more influence. Most Americans agree there is already too much money in politics. Ask your friends to join you in support of the OCCUPIED Amendment by recommending our petition onFacebook and Twitter now.
The Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Amendment makes clear that corporations are not people but private entities banned from spending their profits on our elections. As thousands of Americans like you pledge their support for the OCCUPIED Amendment and its companion bill introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States Senate, the number of cosponsors in Congress has grown by the day.
Keep the momentum in Congress going by urging your friends on Facebook and Twitter to sign the OCCUPIED Amendment petition.
If Mitt Romney has his way, our democracy will soon fall victim to "Citizens United on Steroids," and corporations and their CEOs will donate millions of dollars without restriction to the candidates that support their bottom lines.
As we approach the two-year anniversary of Citizens United help me double support for the OCCUPIED Amendment by getting just a friend or two on Facebook and Twitter to sign our petition.
Stopping special interests from drowning out the will of the people is the defining struggle of our time. Amending the Constitution is hard work, and building a movement is the only way to do it. Together, we can get money out of politics and return our democracy to the people.
Share the petition on Facebook.
Share the petition on Twitter.
This effort is about more than any single election. It is about protecting the integrity of our democratic form of government. I cannot thank you enough for taking a stand today.
Rep. Ted Deutch
Democrat, Florida's 19th District