Archive for influence

Judge: Florida redistricting a "mockery," illegally favors GOP

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redistricting

Florida (aka Flori-duh) Republicans just got a major smackdown from a circuit judge who ruled that their congressional redistricting map was illegal. North Carolina, are you paying attention?

The map is now invalid because it "violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts," per the Los Angeles Times. Or to put it another way, the GOP hoped to pull a fast one on Democratic voters and failed miserably. The plan is "invalid."

In Florida, the GOP controls the Legislature, and the judge said that they did that with "improper partisan intent" in 2012.

gerrymander definition

gerrymandering via Doonesbury

Oh, but it gets worse. Judge Lewis also said that those (ir)responsible tried to keep the whole thing a big secret. And you know what they say about cover-ups...

cover up 2 cover-up...where...

cover up worse than crime

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering - that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other. [...]

Lewis noted that legislative leaders and political operatives had deleted emails and other documents outlining their redistricting efforts.

As the League of Women Voters of Florida president said, the ruling "exposed the conspiracy to influence and manipulate the Legislature into violating its constitutional duties."

Of course, Republicans will blame those pesky activist judges. Like the ones on the Supreme Court, GOP?

nice try no cigar

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“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy"

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corporate money america

Why hasn't this big, corporate money, corporate influence event already been canceled, especially after this from the Los Angeles Times: "AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento"?

No other single corporation has spent more trying to influence legislators in recent years. It dispenses millions in political donations and has an army of lobbyists. Bills it opposes are usually defeated.

Here's a press release that just came my way:

Sec. of State Candidate Cressman Urges Lawmakers to Cancel This Weekend’s “Speaker’s Cup” Pebble Beach Fundraiser

Lawmakers Get Schmoozed By Lobbyists, Corporate Titans

Senate cancelled similar fundraiser in wake of Sacramento scandals

Sacramento, CA –

California Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman today blasted lawmakers attending the Speakers Cup Weekend in Pebble Beach this weekend, saying the golf-and-schmooze event embodied everything that is wrong with politics in a state where three lawmakers were recently suspended from the Senate for corruption.

Cressman today called on Assembly Speaker John Perez to cancel the event, just as Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg had recently cancelled a Senate golf fundraiser with corporate interests.

Cressman, who is running on a platform of transparency and reducing the influence of corporate money, said the Pebble Beach event was just a legal version of the bribery and influence-peddling in the Golden State that has made headline news across the country in recent months.

“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy,” said Cressman. “Corporations like AT&T use campaign contributions to elect corporate Democrats who then deliver legislation that boosts their profits at the expense of California consumers,” he said.

“Frankly, it seems AT&T has California by the calls.”

As an example, Cressman pointed to SB 1161, authored by Senator Alex Padilla to deregulate phone service provided over Internet lines. Consumer advocate Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network called it “the most anti-consumer bill ever introduced in California.” AT&T likes the bill so much that it has made a similar version a “model bill” of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC. ALEC is an organization that connects state legislators with corporate and right wing organizations that is best known for promoting the Stand Your Ground law implicated in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Senator Padilla has received at least $108,732 from telecommunication interests, including $43,395 from AT&T and it’s employees during his time in the Senate.

Overall, AT&T has given California legislators $2,336,468 since 2006.

Cressman wants to get corporate money out of California politics by overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that struck down bans on corporate campaign spending under the reasoning that corporations should be considered people with constitutional rights. “AT&T is not a person and it shouldn’t be allowed to buy our elections,” said Cressman. He has led a national movement to place questions on the ballot giving voters the chance to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court. SB 1272, to be voted on in the California Senate Elections Committee on April 21st, would place such a measure on the statewide ballot in November.

AT&T has consistently been able to block legislation to remove monthly fees that it charges consumers to have an unlisted phone number, a basic privacy protection that reportedly nets telecom firms upwards of $50 million per year.

In another instance of telecommunications influence, just last week Senate bill SB962, which was sponsored by Senator Mark Leno in response to the high rate of stolen smartphones, would have forced electronics manufacturers to install a shut-off function in all smartphones failed in the state Senate. The so-called “kill switch” legislation would have required companies to manufacture smartphones with technology that would make them inoperable when not in the owner’s possession.

AT&T has lobbied heavily against the bill.

Note: Edited to correct error in original release.

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"GOP politicians still care." Sure they do... about themselves.

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gop politicians Dear America I don't care

How much more proof do we need that GOP politicians care very little about us, but care very deeply about money, power, domination, and prestige? While Democrats fight for equal pay, equal rights, voting rights, women's rights, gay rights, civil rights, free public education, health care for all, and a safe, clean environment, GOP politicians do whatever it takes to benefit their donors. And the donors do whatever it takes to buy elections and destroy their competitors while clawing for status, increasing their own assets, and boosting their own clout.

It is not about caring. It is all about control.

This is not to say that Dems don't indulge in that kind of thing, too. Of course they do. But anyone can see by the restrictive, extremist laws attempted by and/or passed by GOP state and national legislators (racial, gender, sexual discrimination, trans-vaginal probes, personhood for blastocysts, and repeal Obamacare 50 times, anyone?) that the health and welfare of the American people are not exactly first and foremost on what's left of narrow GOP minds.

What makes it even worse is their blatant hypocrisy. We see them all over the media indulging in their self-righteous "pro-life" posturing. This as they support polluting (killing) our planet, using capital punishment to kill the (all too often wrongly) convicted, and Second Amendmenting anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. And their base eats it up.

GOP politicians boast about their "family values." Yet they play the base card while cheating on their wives in Argentina or concealing their own sexual orientation while pushing anti-gay initiatives.

All this because they care.

Think about it:

Which party is it that came up with the slogan "drill, baby, drill" despite the dire consequences and debilitating illnesses we're already seeing as a result of their deadly reverence of fossil fuels?

Which party is it that resorts to cheating (gerrymandering, Voter I.D. laws, cutting back early voting, caging) in order to win elections?

Which party is it that refuses to pay women the same salaries as men?

Which party is it that rallied around their "Patriot" O' the Day, racist scofflaw Cliven Bundy?

Which party is it that sworetogod they would turn over a new leaf and reach out to a more diverse spectrum of voters... and then did just the opposite?

Hint: Not Democrats.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re “Obama's Keystone trap,” Opinion, April 22

Goldberg writes: “GOP politicians still care about the environment, but they take their cues from public opinion, not the green lobby.”

Who does Goldberg consider to be the green lobby? The vast majority of climate scientists whose opinion is disregarded? If the GOP cares as much about the environment as he suggests, where are the party's environmental leaders?

Climate change is not simply another problem among the others (habitat loss, ocean acidification and more) that Goldberg lists; it underlies these problems.

Mary Clumeck

Santa Ana

***

We can all sleep a bit better knowing that “GOP politicians still care about the environment.”

And I assume that we can look forward to the GOP leadership on increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for women, contraceptive coverage in medical plans, increasing the marginal tax rate on the very wealthy, providing routes to citizenship for illegal immigrants, legalization of marijuana and recognition for gay marriages.

After all, Goldberg assures us that GOP politicians “take their cues from public opinion.”

Ed Grubbs

Spring Valley, Calif.

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"Here's what your money is buying right now..."

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gop your money

We have written countless posts about the Supreme Court's terrible Citizens United decision, followed by their latest debacle, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the other appalling Supreme Court ruling that favors billionaires and allows them to influence our election outcomes.

Even Garry Trudeau couldn't keep quiet about it any longer: The Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!  As I said in that post, a very few obscenely wealthy individuals are able to spend lavishly on candidates, politicians, and potential votes while, try as you might, your money simply can't compete with the endless supply of cash donated by the corporate big boys.

And with that, another installment of today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Money won't buy you votes," Opinion, April 20

Sure, money won't buy the vote of a regular person, but it sure can buy members of the state legislature or Congress. Here's what your money is buying right now:

Profits on gun sales fund the National Rifle Assn. and ensure that even when little kids get slaughtered at school, universal background checks won't pass the Senate despite the fact that about 90% of the country supports them.

Wealthy people who make money from investments make sure they don't get taxed at the same rates as wage earners.

Money strangles the implementation of banking reform. And it makes sure that no matter how many floods, fires or hurricanes we have, nothing is done about climate change.

Best of all, money buys donors the ability to hide behind "social welfare" organizations so nobody knows who's doing these evil things.

Joanne Zirretta

Aliso Viejo

**

A large war chest doesn't guarantee victory, as Republican Meg Whitman learned in 2010 when voters elected Democrat Jerry Brown governor by a wide margin.

But what money does allow is for the wealthy to buy the loyalty of politicians. The handful of GOP presidential hopefuls who visited billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently offer proof of that.

Most Americans agree that the latest Supreme Court rulings loosening campaign finance rules were steps in the wrong direction.

Kyle Laurent

Newhall

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Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!

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doonesbury logoI don't know how Garry Trudeau does it, but he always does what he does well, including his latest Doonesbury strip. In this Sunday's snark fest, Trudeau concentrates on none other than the infamous Koch brothers and their big spending ways. That creative wizard can pack more into a few panels than Chris Christie can pack into his... lawyer's whitewash of Bridgegate.

Using the Kochs as his focus, Trudeau sets his sights on the Supreme Court's awful Citizens United decision. That would be the same decision that allows a very few obscenely wealthy individuals to influence our elections while the rest of us donate a few bucks here and there hoping to boost our candidates of choice. One can only imagine the handful of rich donors cackling as they haul out their checkbooks.

However, unlike the "Doonesbury" below, they're not in the least bit amusing.

Trudeau ironically points out the ease with which "nasty billionaires" like the Koch brothers can buy whomever and whatever they want, including the very comic strip that houses his creation, a now unsuspecting "supporter" of the two "respected, civic-minded job creators" (vs. those Evil Labor Unions).

Don't look now, Doonesbury, but you've been acquired:

doonesbury koch brothers

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Soros is no Koch brother

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Soros is no Koch brother, close up

Those on the right love to compare the Kochtopus to George Soros. Yes, both the Koch brothers (scroll) and George Soros are wealthy individuals who donate to the party and candidates of their choice. They're allowed to by law, even more so under the most recent (and terrible) Supreme Court decision.  But that's where the comparison should end.

Which brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor about the difference between these "big spenders":

Re "Big spenders," Letters, April 8

One letter writer asserts that exposing the Koch brothers' financial involvement in various conservative causes is mudslinging. He claims their political spending is no different than that of major Democratic donors such as George Soros and unions.

What the writer fails to acknowledge is that the Kochs fund a web of foundations and organizations created by and for themselves to promote their own views. Their political groups are given populist-sounding names — such as Americans for Prosperity — that distract from their real purpose, which is to protect the Kochs' extraordinary personal fortune.

And, but for their wealth, many of these organizations would either cease to exist or lack real political clout.

In comparison, when Soros and unions make political donations, they do not take extraordinary lengths to hide their involvement. We know to whom they gave and how much. The same cannot be said for the Kochs.

That is the difference.

Robert J. Switzer

West Hollywood

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Stew of corruption: Just add politicians, cash, and simmer.

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culture of corruption

Last night, Rachel Maddow did a segment on several recent corruption scandals involving state level politicians, in this case Democrats. It was pretty jaw-dropping. Included in her report was the arrest yesterday of California State Sen. Leland Yee:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This morning, I came across this Los Angeles Times article about Yee and noticed this:

Democrat Derek Cressman, one of Yee's opponents in the secretary of state race, called his arrest a "wake-up call."

"We are clearly beyond the point of looking at one bad apple and instead looking at a corrupt institution in the California Senate," Cressman said. "The constant begging for campaign cash clearly has a corrosive effect on a person's soul and the only solution is to get big money out of our politics once and for all."

Then I saw this Los Angeles Times editorial:

This page has been firm in its opposition to the NRA's abject disdain of the public good in pursuing its warped view of the 2nd Amendment's right to bear arms and its bullying approach to the political process. But the blame for this national insanity should not be placed entirely on the NRA. Politicians respond to the group's pressure out of fear, knowing that their jobs often depend on low-turnout, one-party primaries in which fringe passions are amplified.

In other words, if politicians don't respond to the NRA's bullying, they can kiss their donations good-bye, and some other extremist will win the cash... and the day.

Thank you Supreme Court and Citizens United, for turning campaign finance laws on their heads, for allowing super PACs and billionaires to call the shots and buy our elections, and for giving toxic organizations like the NRA the leeway to exert their influence on election outcomes. The result? More corruption and less democracy.

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