Friday, September 13, 2013

Selling America to the highest bidder

From TPM:
An almost completely unknown group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has identified itself as the secret source of almost a quarter of a billion dollars received by conservative political groups in 2012.

The group, Freedom Partners, raised $256 million in the year following its creation in November 2011, and made grants totaling $236 million to conservative groups, according to Politico, which was shown a draft of an IRS document the group plans to file shortly. As Politico put it, the upshot of Freedom Partners’ revelation is that “a totally unknown group was the largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election, second in total spending only to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.” ...

Originally named the Association for American Innovation, Freedom Partners is organized as a 501(c)6 tax-exempt chamber of commerce. The designation allow it to keep its donors secret (but is different from the 501(c)4 “social welfare” group status that became popular after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.) On its website, which was registered in early September, Freedom Partners claims to have over 200 members. And according to Politico, those members are drawn from the semiannual conferences hosted by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire businessmen and conservative donors. Each member of Freedom Partners pays at least $100,000 in annual dues. ...

Freedom Partners was able to remain in the shadows during an election year because many (if not all) of the groups it gave money to in 2012 also keep their donors secret. But while dark money groups don’t have to disclose many details about the money they take in, they do have to tell the IRS more about the money they give out in the form of grants. Hence the IRS filing that the group shared with Politico.

This is "dark money." It's not just that we're auctioning off America to the highest bidder, but that these people are doing it in secret (all legal, thanks to the five right-wing Republicans on our Supreme Court).

Freedom Partners claims to have "over 200 members." Wow, that's really a grassroots group, huh? They spent 256 million dollars to influence elections, anonymously, in one year! That's a quarter of a billion dollars spent to give themselves tax breaks! Do you wonder why politicians don't give your opinions much notice?

The thing is, they still need votes. We don't have to be influenced by this. But most people will be. Most people don't pay attention - even those few who are willing to get off the couch to vote at all - and most are quite willing to believe whatever they want to believe.

That's why money influences elections. That's why campaign ads work. And that's why politicians on both sides of the aisle spend most of their time fund-raising. But as the wealthy just get wealthier - thanks to government subsidies, as well as tax breaks (socialism for the rich; capitalism for the poor and middle class) - they're having it easier and easier to buy elections.

And keep it all in the dark, too. Even now, nearly a year after the November elections, we're just learning how much money was spent,... and we still don't know - and won't ever, likely - who spent it and where the money came from. These days, thanks again to the Republicans on our Supreme Court, even corporations can buy politicians in secret.

That might be your money. If you own stock or mutual funds - in your IRA or 401-k, perhaps - it likely is your money, at least in part. But you'll never know that, because corporate CEOs can keep that a secret even from the people who supposedly 'own' the corporation.

Dark money. Has corruption ever been easier?

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