By Jessica Mulligan | 0 comments
The Citizens United decision, two years ago, allowed a flood of corporate money into campaign finance. The Supreme Court came to the decision that campaign donations are a form of political speech, protected by the First Amendment. In this decision, however, the justices did not recommend that the names of big donors should remain confidential. In fact, Justice Scalia stated: Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomedI do not look forward to a society which  campaigns anonymously. Yet during this campaign cycle, secrecy has been the norm for Republican campaigns across the board. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently lead a filibuster to kill the DISCLOSE Bill pushed forward by Democrats, in response to the Citizens United decision. Mitt Romney has refused to disclose the names of his bundlers, or wealthy individuals who reach their federal contribution limits and then use their social networks to gather money and present it as a sum to the campaign. In addition, nonprofit organizations, such as Karl Roves Crossroads GPS, are able to solicit unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their donors names to the public. Clearly, there will be a large amount of information kept under the radar during this election cycle. Super PACs, however, unlike nonprofit PACs, must disclose the names of their big donors. By investigating the disclosed top donors to the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future, we can begin to hypothesize where the undisclosed money might be coming from. Casino business magnate, Sheldon Adelson, is Restore Our Futures largest individual donor thus far. He gave $10 million in June, and has pledged limitless spending to defeat Obama. For Adelson, limitless means up to $100 million in Super PAC donationshe is the eighth richest American with an estimated wealth of $24.7 billion. His corporation, Las Vegas Sands Corp, is a global entertainment corporation, which has recently been under investigation by the SEC for charges of bribing foreign officials in order to gain business. Clearly, Adelson has never been media-shy. His goals are clear: he is attempting to utilize his vast fortune to decide the result of the 2012 election. Unlike Adelson, Houston Homebuilder Bob Perry prefers to remain under the medias radar. He has spent a total of $6 million on Restore Our Future, making him their second biggest donor. He has spent $80 million on politics in the last decade, and is also American Crossroads second biggest donor. Even his Republican beneficiaries consider him a mysteryhe never appears at campaign events and his donations often appear out of thin air. Perry is an advocate of tort reform, proposed changes that would make it more difficult for injured people to file for lawsuit, and would place limits on lawsuit damages. Tort reform is often regarded as a corporate campaign to place the financial wellbeing of corporations over the wellbeing of their consumers. In addition, Perry bankrolled the SwiftBoat Veterans for Truth ads, which accused Kerry of lying to obtain his purple hearts and bronze and gold stars. Many believed these ads were the lowest form of negative advertising, yet responsible for sinking John Kerrys campaign in 2004. Although Perry is notoriously silent in the media, his widespread donations to GOP campaigns speak for themselves. Other top Restore Our Future donors are overwhelmingly made up of hedge fund managers, private equity investors, Bain executives, and corporations that seem to have been created only to shield the name of an individual donor. Clearly, the super-rich will be a profound advantage for Romney in the upcoming election. It is no surprise, then, that top Republican voices such as Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Whip Kevin McCarthy, who all previously voiced support for full disclosure, now ardently oppose transparency in campaign finance. This is yet another installment of "what Mitt's hiding:" not only does he refuse to release his tax returns, but he has kept the names of his biggest donors under the radarand for good reason. We must continue to put the pressure on Romney to reveal his secrets.Full disclosure of donations to direct campaigns and nonprofit PACs would allow voters to make informed decisions regarding the special interests guiding their future presidents term in the White House.
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