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Sun Nov 2, 2014, 04:29 PM

LA Times - "Voters at Risk from Big Money"

A frequent refrain you hear to explain why Republicans have made their biggest inroads during the midterms, , particularly in a post-Citizens United World, is that the Democrats are bad at messaging. Yet, this simply ignores the heavy role of corporate money that is now flowing into elections. Worse, this money is often pumped in outside of the normal fundraising apparatus so the true disparity in contributions is not seen. Finally, the corporate media, which depends on advertising dollars, generally is reluctant to disclose the ultimate source of these campaign contributions as billionaires and corporations demand policies that are contrary to the interests of most consumers.

Bottom line: Fox News, the Wall Street, Comcast, etc., are not going to suddenly portray Democrats in a better light due to better messaging. The fact of the matter is that corporate America has become increasingly willing to buy the policies that they demand.


Voters are usually inclined to vote their pocketbooks. But that's become more difficult with every election, as the pocketbooks that carry the most weight aren't those of the individual voter, but corporations and plutocrats.

Recent history tells us that the magnitude of big donors' campaign spending rises as their commitment to the public interest shrinks. Mercury Insurance and its founder and chairman, George Joseph, spent a combined $31 million in 2010 and 2012 to pass two almost identical ballot initiatives to remake state auto insurance rules in Mercury's favor and to the public's disadvantage. The spending was so conspicuous that voters recoiled, rejecting both measures.

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The torrent of cash from corporations and the wealthy has begun to drive small donations out of the political marketplace, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In every midterm election through 2010, the number of individual donors contributing $200 or more increased, reaching a high of 817,464 that year. This year it's down, to fewer than 667,000 as of last week. The center expects the number to rise until Tuesday, but not by enough to top 2010.

"As the post-Citizens United campaign finance system matures," says the center's executive director, Sheila Krumholz, "we're seeing evidence that the traditional campaign apparatus has been overtaken by shadow counterparts."

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