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Saturday, October 22, 2016

If corporations are people, as the Supreme Court pretends, they certainly are loudmouths, constantly telling us how great they are and spreading their names everywhere.

Amazingly, though, these corporate creatures have suddenly turned demure, insisting that they don’t want to draw any attention to themselves. That’s because, in this case, corporations are not selling, they’re buying — specifically, trying to buy public office for their pet political candidates by funneling millions of corporate dollars through such front groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In turn, the fronts use the money to air nasty attack ads that smear the opponents of the pro-corporate candidates.

Why do corporations need a middleman? Because the ads are so partisan and vicious that they would appall and anger millions of customers, employees and shareholders of the corporation. So, rather than besmirch their own names, the corporate powers have meekly retreated behind the skirts of Republican political outfits like the Chamber.

But don’t front groups have to report (at least to election authorities) who’s really behind their ads, so voters can make informed decisions? No. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizen United edict in 2010, such groups can now pour unlimited sums of corporate cash into elections without ever disclosing the names of their funders. This “dark money” channel has essentially established secret political campaigning in America.

That’s why shareholders and other democracy advocates are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to rule that the corporate giants it regulates must reveal to shareholders all political donations their executives make with corporate funds. After all, the millions of dollars the executives are using to play politics don’t belong to them — it is shareholder money. And by no means do shareholders march in lockstep on which political candidates to support or oppose.

Hide and seek can be a fun game for kids, but it’s infuriating when CEOs play it in our elections. Last year, corporate interests sought to elect their candidates by hiding much of their politicking not only from company owners but also from voters. In all, $352 million in “dark money” poured into our 2012 elections, the bulk of it from corporations that covertly pumped it into secretive trade associations and such scams as “social welfare charities,” run by the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.

  • Sand_Cat

    Using a judicial office to enable those who attempt to buy elections is cowardly, too, as well as just plain evil. Maybe Scalia should have a look at the mirror next time he starts condemning those who own him.

  • commserver

    I find it hard to believe that Scalia and I have something in common. If you can’t present a face and wear a mask then it is similar to an bandit with a mask.

    I thought that Congress represented the people of this country. I guess the Congress is in the pocket of the vested interests, including large corporations.

  • tdm3624

    352 million would really help feed some hungry people in America. Maybe fix a few roads. It seems like such a waste of money.

  • sigrid28

    This is really earthshaking good news and a great plan if it can be pulled off:

    “Shareholders and other democracy advocates are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to rule that the corporate giants it regulates must reveal to shareholders all political donations their executives make with corporate funds.”

    We need the SEC to act on this immediately so our robust business media can hop right on it. If the disclosure machine were to be up and running and well-oiled ahead of the 2014 elections, the public in swing states would have a chance to see which corporations are really determining the outcome of elections. Rage at this theft by big business might be enough to motivate voters, even in states where voting rights are under attack and even in midterm elections, to defy these violations of their civil rights and remove obstructionists for the House and Congress. A functioning Congress paves the way to up-end Citizens United if the worst outcomes of this decision still prevail.

  • Lovefacts

    The biggest problem with voting at shareholder meetings are the proxy votes the Board holds from uninformed shareholders. The letter sent to shareholders seldom states what will be voted on, especially when dealing the corporate political spending/dark money. The only way to cure this is for that toothless agency called SEC to require that shareholders be allowed to take a position on this issue on their proxy.

  • howa4x

    That nice that Justice Scalia makes these pronouncements now sine the cow has left the barn. what is really needed is for the state pension funds, those representing teachers, police officers and public employees to demand a full disclosure of where their money is going. If a state pension fund worth say 31 billion says to X company, disclose where you are putting corporate funds or we will have a sell off of stock creating a market panic on your company, Then you would see some real changes.

  • Possibly someone could sue for the rights of stockholders.

    Then it could be taken all the way to the Supreme Court.

    This item SHOULD be on the agenda for the Supreme Court to decide.