Monday, November 30, 2015

Short: Textbook example of secret campaign donors

Here's a great example of what they've gotten from the Citizens United decision. This Politico article shows how Joni Ernst, the newly elected senator from Iowa, got a huge helping hand from an organization called Trees of Liberty. You can easily skip the first portion of the article and scroll down to where they discuss Trees of Liberty.

The story is chilling. Trees of Liberty pretended to be a social welfare organization, but it spent most of its funds on advertising. It avoided being called out as a political organization by pulling "down the television ads just before the calendar reached the one-month election countdown."

The only good news is that Trees of Liberty is a 501c(4) organization, so those secret donors weren't able to deduct their contributions. That's not much consolation when a few fabulously rich people can flood our political system with money, and 'liberty' means their liberty to do so.

When the Tree of Liberty was a tree, not a slush fund.


Dangerous said...

I actually have a solution for this. Note that commercial advertising has to be true and can't be misleading or it violates the law. Political advertising can lie, distort, mislead -- all with no oversight. And the money can't be limited, thanks to Citizens United and clever lawyers.

So I propose that ALL political advertising contain the following disclaimer at the beginning and end:

"This message is a political advertisement and, as such, may or may not be true or accurate and should not be accepted at face value."

There's no Constitutional problem with this kind of regulation on media-delivered messages, or anything sent in the mail. Flyers delivered door-to-door probably can't be regular, but the message would be ubiquitous so even those would rendered less effective. That's what we need to defeat the advantage of money in politics.

ModeratePoli said...

@dangerous, Excellent suggestion. The warning will often be hands-down the most accurate statement in the ad.