Yesterday, “all five of the [Supreme] Court’s conservatives joined together … to invalidate a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections,” a move that Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said “opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law” by big corporations.
Today, in response to the Supreme Court’s catastrophic decision, “dozens of current and former corporate executives” from corporations including Delta, Ben & Jerry’s, and Crate & Barrel sent a letter to Congress asking it to immediately pass the Fair Elections Now Act, which would publicly finance all congressional campaigns out of a special fund created by a fee levied on TV broadcasters:
Roughly 40 executives from companies including Playboy Enterprises, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, the Seagram’s liquor company, toymaker Hasbro, Delta Airlines and Men’s Wearhouse sent a letter to congressional leaders Friday urging them to approve public financing for House and Senate campaigns. They say they are tired of getting fundraising calls from lawmakers — and fear it will only get worse after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling. [...]
“Members of Congress already spend too much time raising money from large contributors,” the business executives’ letter says. “And often, many of us individually are on the receiving end of solicitation phone calls from members of Congress. With additional money flowing into the system due to the court’s decision, the fundraising pressure on members of Congress will only increase.”
Even before the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, corporate special interest money was making a huge impact on the legislative process. From 1998 to 2009, the financial, insurance, and real estate lobbies spent nearly $3.8 billion in Washington, successfully deregulating Wall Street, passing huge tax cuts for the wealthy, barring Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices, killing mortgage cramdown legislation, and weakening financial and health reforms.
According to polling done in November 2008, 69 percent of the American people support publicly financing all campaigns, including the majority of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and independents. The bipartisan Fair Elections Now Act currently has six Senate co-sponsors and 125 co-sponsors in the House (President Obama was a co-sponsor when he was a senator). Click here to sign the Fair Elections Now Act petition.