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If corporations are people, as the Supreme Court pretends, they certainly are loudmouths, constantly telling us how great they are and broadcasting their brand names everywhere.
Amazingly, though, these corporate creatures have suddenly turned demure, insisting they don’t want to draw any attention to themselves. That’s because, in this case, corporations are not selling, but buying – specifically, trying to buy public office for their pet political candidates by funneling millions of corporate dollars through such front groups as the US Chamber of Commerce. In turn, the corporate fronts use the money to air nasty attack ads that smear the opponents of the pro-corporate candidates.
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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 skirt of Republican political outfits like the Chamber.
But don’t front groups at least have to tell election authorities who’s really behind their ads? 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, that’s shareholder money the executives are using to play political games. It belongs to all shareholders, not just a few CEOs. For more information and action, go to www.CommonCause.org.
“Corporate Donations and the S.E.C.,” The New York Times, April 25, 2013.
“S.E.C. Gets Plea: Force Companies To Air Donations,” The New York Times, April 24, 2013.