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National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason joined host Mika Brzezinski, reporter Nicholas Confessore, and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today to discuss how corporations are donating millions of dollars secretly to tax-exempt groups — as highlighted by Confessore  in a front-page New York Times report on Sunday. 

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According to Confessore and his co-author Mike McIntire, major corporations such as American Electric Power, Aetna, Prudential Financial, and Dow Chemical are choosing to donate to tax-exempt “social welfare” groups that face no disclosure requirements, in order to hide their donations. They release political ads supposedly for the purpose of “educating the public,”  but critics see their real intention as seeking to influence elections.

In the video clip, Conason refers to Republican Karl Rove’s definition of “social welfare” as “attacking President Obama over taxes on TV” —  alluding to Rove’s Crossroads GPS group, a tax-exempt nonprofit that launched a $25 million ad campaign to attack President Obama over taxes and deficits

Conason notes that the Citizens United case, in which Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ‘s decision dismissed the notion that corruption will arise from unlimited corporation political campaign contributions because all such money will be disclosed. “Citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests …and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way,” the majority opinion reads. “This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”

But the “transparency” promised in the court’s majority opinion has been thwarted by Republicans in the Senate and House, who have refused to pass legislation mandating disclosure.

“Now, ” Conason points out, “they [corporate donors] don’t want full disclosure, and maybe we should worry about corruption when you see the kind of corporate money that is flowing into these campaigns.” 

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Dr. Mehmet Oz

Sean Parnell, the Trump-anointed candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, dropped out of the race a week ago after a custody hearing that featured lurid details of his relationship with his ex-wife. Laurie Snell alleged that Parnell had struck her, choked her, left her by the side of the road and hit one of their sons hard enough to leave a welt on the boy's back. Parnell countered that she had invented all of it.

Custody battles are infamous for exaggerated accusations and heated denials, and it's difficult for outsiders to know whom to believe and how much. But Parnell's comments off the witness stand didn't burnish his credibility. Appearing on Fox Nation, for example, Parnell opined, "I feel like the whole 'happy wife, happy life' nonsense has done nothing but raise one generation of woman tyrants after the next." He wasn't finished. "Now there's an entire generation of men that don't want to put up with the BS of a high-maintenance, narcissistic woman." Well. Someone seems to be dealing with anger issues. The would-be — er, rather, won't-be — senator concluded with a short sermon on biology: "From an evolutionary standpoint, it used to be, you know, women were attracted to your strength because you could defend them from dinosaurs." Where does the GOP find these geniuses?

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