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Congressional Radicals Anxious To Stop Disclosure Of Corporate Money In Elections

Memo Pad Politics

Congressional Radicals Anxious To Stop Disclosure Of Corporate Money In Elections


Perhaps I’ve been too harsh on congressional Republicans.

I had assumed that their vitriolic attacks on even the meekest of proposals to restrict the tsunami of secret corporate cash slamming into our elections stemmed from a hallucinogenic mix of partisan self-interest and Koch-induced plutocratic ideology. But I’ve since learned that they might simply need medical help.

Take Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who recently came unglued at a public hearing before the House Financial Services Committee. Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, had been summoned by GOP inquisitors to answer to a modest, straightforward proposal involving the disclosure of corporate political donations. Actually, it is not her proposal, but a citizen petition — signed by a record half-million Americans — asking the SEC to require that corporate executives reveal to shareholders how their money is being spent in elections.

That’s entirely reasonable — unless, like Garrett, you’ve got the political temperament of a live grenade. He exploded on White, demanding in a bullying manner that she “refuse to be bullied by these outside radical groups” who submitted the petition. He insisted that she declare, then and there, that the agency would not even consider the citizens’ proposal.

Yes, Garrett is a corporate toady, but that can’t explain his foam-at-the-mouth hissy fit. Then I learned about a new medical study that offers a clue about the source of such behavior. It seems that conflicts at work cause some people’s brains to release hormones that prompt them to fly into a rage and even threaten others. The researchers found out that corrosive hormones can make blood platelets stickier, causing the brain to go “boom,” creating angry outbursts of stupidity.

So maybe Scott’s problem is not merely toadyism, but the terrible tragedy of sticky platelets syndrome.

Still, one wonders: What did Rep. Garrett mean when he squawked about “outside radical groups” daring to submit that disclosure petition to the SEC? How radical is it to seek restraints on corporate chieftains who are pouring unlimited (and untold) amounts of their shareholders’ money into our elections?

The great majority of Americans — including rank-and-file Republicans — agree that, at the very least, the shareholders who own the corporation have a right to be told how much of their money is being spent on behalf of which candidates. This explains why more than 500,000 citizens have petitioned the SEC to require disclosure.

Who, you might wonder, exactly are these scary citizens, considered such a threat to corporate power that a congresscritter is tarring them publicly as radical outsiders? They’re professors from leading law schools, state and national elected officials, pension fund directors, public interest advocates and corporate shareholders. Not exactly outsiders, much less radicals.

And that’s what makes them so dangerous to the autocratic elites who run corporations as their own fiefdoms. Top executives want no accountability for the hundreds of millions of shareholder dollars they’re spending to elect corporate lickspittles like Garrett, so they feel it necessary to demonize the citizenry itself. Don’t question us, they demand, just trust us.

Uh … no. Far from earning trust, they’ve already wrecked our economy and betrayed our nation’s egalitarian ideals — while feathering their own plutocratic nests. Now they want free rein to pervert America’s democratic process with clandestine election campaigns secretly financed with other people’s money.

NO! These kleptocrats are the real radicals. It’s time to stop them, not only by disclosing their thievery, but ultimately by outlawing it — and retuning elections to the people. To join the effort, contact Public Citizen at www.citizen.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and one of America's most prominent progressive voices. His column carried by more than 75 publications across the country. Prior to becoming a writer, Hightower served as Texas Agricultural Commission from 1982 to 1991.

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  1. Lynda Groom May 29, 2013

    Isn’t transparency suppose to be the latest buzzword in Washington today? Both sides claim it and yet nobody seems to actually want to participate.

    1. Sand_Cat May 29, 2013

      Transparency doesn’t work when no one’s looking, anyway.

  2. billbear1961 May 29, 2013

    When are we going to do something about these Big Money prostitutes? WHEN?

    After they’ve completely destroyed our democracy?

    These SELLOUTS belong in prison, not the halls of power!

    God’s CURSE on every single one of them!

    We want to see who’s getting what from whom.

    Then, we can hand these gangsters their heads!

    Oh, I’ll just BET they don’t want us to know!!

  3. charleo1 May 29, 2013

    The defeat of the recent gun control bill, where the percentage of
    Americans supporting expanded background checks was estimated
    as high as 90%, Even among, NRA members, approval was, 15/20,
    points above 50. This, just the latest canary to fall off it’s perch, dead.
    The truth is, our Country, and it is supposed to be our Country.
    and, democracy itself, have been getting into progressively, worse,
    and worse, trouble, for a good number of years now. But, the entire
    political apparatus is hooked on this money. The politicians, the
    broadcast media. The solicitors, who raise the cash. Addicts, all.
    And, with each election cycle, we see even more money collected,
    and spent, than in the last. We’ve all heard the old saying, the best
    government money can buy. I would say, this is what it looks like,
    and governs like, when the government has been bought right out
    from under the people it is supposed to serve. I think I’m pretty much
    with the majority, when I say. We know this situation cannot exist,
    along side the will of the people. It will be one, or the other. But, it
    can’t be both.

  4. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh May 30, 2013

    I would not use the term “radicals” which has generally been associated with Liberal causes. Instead I would use the term “reactionary” as these Conservatives want to roll back our government to something that only ever existed in a Barry Goldwater policy paper.

  5. Buford2k11 May 30, 2013

    It is long past time to throw down the corporate criminals…Wall Street to K street…

  6. pbrower2a May 30, 2013

    These people have something to hide — that their financial support comes from some people who want to make America into a federation of plantations and workhouses. Armed to the teeth, of course.


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