Archive for it’s the law

WI GOP fast-tracks "dark money" bill in midst of "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers dark money

By now you've probably heard of dark money. I've written about it often. It is when nonprofits spend money on elections by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws. In other words, they don't reveal who their donors are, but use their wealth to influence election outcomes by funding "issue ads." Thank you, Citizens United.

Here's how Rachel Maddow described the practice:

...Millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

In that particular segment of her show, she was describing how the Koch brothers operate.

Now we get to see how Republican legislators in Wisconsin operate, or as I like to call it, Dark Money Central.

Via PRWatch.org:

A proposed bill that would keep the public in the dark about the sources of money in Wisconsin elections could also make it easier for dark money groups to coordinate with candidates, an issue of particular salience given the ongoing "John Doe" probe into alleged campaign finance violations in the state. [...]

And most importantly, it could open the door to direct candidate coordination with issue ad groups, potentially undermining what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law. Prosecutors in the John Doe campaign finance probe are reportedly pursuing a theory of illegal coordination between independent "issue ad" groups and the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recalls. [...]

Wisconsin courts have held that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value.

If those "contributions" exceeded donation limits and were not reported to the state elections board, the group running coordinated issue ads would be violating election law.

And that is the whole reason for the bill. It would change the "political purpose" definition which would also end up changing the interpretation of "candidate contributions."

Nothing new here, just your typical GOP approach: If you can't get what you want honestly and openly, cheat, lie, defraud, slither, smear, steal, and/or hide.

what's the big secret

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Money in politics out, people in: "It's We the People, not It the Money."

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money in politics citizens united corporations

"Money is the root of all evil." Well, maybe, maybe not, but that classic quote sure applies when it comes to politics.

As I was watching The Stephanie Miller Show on Free Speech TV (which I highly recommend), this most excellent video from 2012 came on (Free Speech TV doesn't air commercials. Instead, viewers are treated to all kinds of recorded segments informing us about clean energy, common sense gun safety measures, and equal rights, among other things):

Represent.Us:

Published on August 2, 2012

It will take millions of people to defeat billions of dollars. Join us at www.unpac.org!

Super PACs and special interests have turned our politicians into money junkies only out for their next fix. We have to fight back before this becomes the new normal in American politics.

Please share this video with your friends and family.

Sadly, this is the new normal in politics thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Way to go! America first!

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SCOTUS, MY ASSTUS

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Seal of SCOTUS

Do we get what we deserve, or deserve what we get?  Or neither?

The Supreme Court this week is in shambles.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow we’ll know what these nine justices think of equal rights and general fairness of humankind. Two days down.  Two punts.  All this waiting is for what?

The first decision came yesterday with affirmative action.  They did nothing, in essence allowing it to linger a bit longer by sending it back down to lower courts to adjudicate. Like some bad food, it’ll come back up, but not in a good sense.  Today they punted again, sending the issue of voter fairness laws to Congress where the Republicans can’t wait to tamper with the fairness part.  Look for the poll tax to return in some fashion.

By remanding the voting rights act to Congress, not the judicial branch, they avoided their responsibilities of constitutional law review and sent it to morons who think 15 year old fetuses are masturbating in the womb and that women can’t become pregnant if they are genuinely raped.

Sadly, SCOTUS “punted.”  But in shirking their responsibility to take charge and make tough legal decisions, they have kicked the ball totally out of the judicial branch, and put it back in the political arena of the congress -- exactly where the voting rights bill started. That is hardly a bastion of the sane.  With it goes the hope for fairness and fraud protections in future elections?

When a party that is in shambles (the GOP) with the public has nothing to lose, they will resort to desperate measures.  They’ll stack the deck; they’ll play a three card Monty with our selection process and do what they can to change the rules of the game to suit them.  Fairness and equal protection went out the door today.

Tomorrow gay rights and marriage equality will be impacted with the decisions forthcoming.  If today’s ruling is any indication, we’re in for more “punting.”  The SCOTUS is becoming the place where hopes go to die.  Sadly there are more balls on the three women of SCOTUS than the men…  The motto of this group used to be “Equal justice under the law.”  Recently stone masons have been hired to build a new front portico to the structure with the phrase, “Indecisions R Us” engraved across it.

It will be interesting to see if gays and lesbians are going to be allowed equal rights.  What we know is they are humans like all of us – but do they deserve to be treated like equals?  That’s questionable with today’s voter rights setback.  It’s hard to be prescient when the Supreme Court is so divided on most issues, but their conservative bend is of little doubt.

Not that it matters but my prediction is that Prop 8 will be kicked back to the lower court with no decision.  That can be taken as a victory for gay rights as the lower court has already ruled against prop 8.  As for DOMA, look for an unfavorable 5-4 ruling upholding the sanctity of traditional marriage over human equality rights.

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David Gregory, NBC not charged for possession of gun magazine, but blasted by DC Attorney General

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bad decision

See that high-capacity gun magazine that David Gregory was waving under Wayne LaPierre's wingnutty nose on “Meet the Press”? He shouldn't have done that because his possession of such a piece of equipment was illegal. But Gregory's off the hook and will not be prosecuted, says D.C.’s attorney general, because he has no criminal record, so off to court he doesn't go.

Whew! That was a nail-biter! Kidding.

The AG went on to say that “our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States.”

In other words, don't be silly, this was a news show [sic], and Gregory's a dufus a journalist so he gets a pass. This time.

Here are screen grabs and excerpts from the Attorney General's rather unflattering letter:

"Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23,2012 broadcast. OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust."

 david gregory letter 2david gregory letter 1

"...Ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense. We therefore did not rely in making our judgment on the feeble and unsatisfactory efforts that NBC made to determine whether or not it was lawful to possess, display and broadcast this large capacity magazine as a means of fostering the public policy debate. Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on the broadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advice from any federal official."

"Repetition by NBC or any employee of any similar or other firearms violation will be prosecuted to the full extent supported by the facts and the law.

"I am confident that you will convey our deep concern and warning to your client."

Two strikes and you're out, David.

idiot warning

H/t: David Shuster, Special thanks to Thomas Soldan

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VIDEO-- How to overturn Citizens United: Drive in a carpool lane with a corporation and get ticketed

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corporations are people romney

Savor this one while you can, because you and I both know it's going to get thrown out of court. There was this guy, see, and he got ticketed for driving alone in a California carpool lane. But he says there's no way he was alone, see, because he had his corporation papers with him right there on the front seat, and as we all know...

"Under the law, a corporation is a person."

Via NBC:

He waved his corporation papers at the officer, he told NBCBayArea.com, saying that corporations are people under California law. [...]

Frieman, who faces a traffic court on Monday, plans to tell the judge that this isn’t about carpool lanes; it’s about corporate power.

"I'm just arresting their power and using it for my service to drive in the carpool lane," he told NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle.

University of San Francisco law professor Robert Talbot says Frieman’s argument may not hold up because it steers too far from the intent of carpool lane laws.

Intent inschment. The law allows corporations to be people when it comes to donating to greedy politicians, so it should apply here.

If not, then it's time to dump Citizens United, the terrible SCOTUS ruling that got us into this mess in the first place.

But admit it, isn't corporate personhood fun when it works for the average citizen?

UPDATE:

tweets citizens united carpool lane

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Photo of the Day- Lady Ultrasound

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Just too good not to share.Via Twolf by way of Watertiger.

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VIDEO- Nita Lowey: "No federal funds are used for abortion, period!" Yet GOP wastes time on that instead of jobs.

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Earlier, I mentioned that Nita Lowey was on MSNBC and quoted her as saying, “Let’s get on with the discussion of jobs.”

Here is the context. Short version: Why are Republicans anti-women?

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

"I can't believe we're still debating this. They won't give up!"

"The only kind of abortions that can be supported... are forced rape."

"I don't question anybody's personal belief. .. But what right do they have to impose their personal views on all women?"

"This is really anti-women, it's not 'pro-life' to me."

"...Very extreme views..."

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