Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let The Sun Shine In

(Cartoon by Jack Ohman published 3/21/14 in the Sacramento Bee and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge and then be so kind as to return.)

It's silly season again, and campaigns for the June primary are in full swing.  Also in full swing is the pouring of "dark" money into various campaign, including those involving propositions.  George Skelton took a good look at the issue of "hidden" campaign donations in his Los Angeles Times column.  Of course, what he's talking about is the use of 501(c)4 organization to hide identities.

From that column:

There's bipartisan agreement in California's Capitol that hiding the identities of political fat cats is bad for democracy. ...

But they've gotten hung up over exactly when to begin shining the light on shadowy mega-donors.

Democrats say start exposing them during this fall's elections.

Republicans claim that wouldn't be fair. It's "changing the rules in the middle of the game." They're insisting on one more election of donor-hiding.

They're like the drunk who promises to seek treatment, but first needs to go on one last binge.

The GOP stance is indefensible. If a rule is rotten, it should be chucked immediately. Why allow it to continue spoiling the political process?

That said, we are talking about crass politics, after all. Nobody should be shocked by any doublespeak or opportunism. And Democrats should compromise here for the long-term public good.   [Emphasis added]

So, what brought on the flurry of activity in the state legislature?  Well, in the last election, all sorts of money poured in to affect a couple of ballot measures somebody had a stake in:

The measure stemmed from the laundering of $15 million in "dark" money that was dumped into two 2012 ballot measure campaigns. Part of it was to fight Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase. The rest was to promote an initiative that would have crippled political spending by unions.

The skullduggery backfired, souring many voters against the laundry machines. The tax hike won and the anti-union measure lost, both overwhelmingly.

The state could only trace the money back to such innocuously and disingenuously named sources as "Americans for Responsible Leadership," "Americans for Job Security" and "The Center to Protect Patient Rights." All were legally classified as nonprofits, largely immune to being required to disclose the real names of their donors.

No one still can say with certainty who actually forked out the millions, but the secretive network of nonprofits had ties to right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch. So virtually everyone assumes it was the out-of-state Koch brothers who were secretly playing in California politics.   [Emphasis added]

While I'm not big on compromise these days, feeling that our president and our Congress have done enough to last a lifetime, I would settle this time if it meant that our November elections wouldn't be so tainted.

And I'd like to see the L.A. Times, S.F. Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, and all other state newspapers make a BIG DEAL of the passage of such a bill so the rest of the nation could start pressuring Congress for a comparable change in the law regarding 501c(4)s.

It's  time to stop the buying and selling of elections shrouded in secrecy.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home