I feel much better now. Maybe.
After the holiday week, during which I mostly wrote, taught and otherwise stayed away from crowds and those blasted fireworks displays (pun intended), I got back to politics and my source of all news, the evening talk shows. That didn’t help much because most last week were reruns. So, I went back a bit further and watched the June 30 editions of The Colbert Report and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
It was the Colbert Report that caught my attention, that campaign reform as we know it is a myth. His own Colbert Super PAC is not a joke, though this will be an additional source of joviality over this entire political presidential season. That’s sixteen more months! Wow.
Why is this important? Because Super PACs fall into a strange world – the science of the Unlimited Money without knowing who the real contributors are, a Black Hole. Colbert then defined that Black Hole as the ability “to raise unlimited moneys, and use their moneys to determine the winners of the 2012 elections.”
Ah, America, where elections can still be bought by corporations, organizations, the Koch brothers, and now, Stephen Colbert.
If you are one of my many conservative readers about to call “foul,” allow me to remind you of Carl Rove’s Super PAC, along with the Koch brothers, David and Charles, and the other 106, mostly conservative, political action committees now in existence. For a complete listing go to the Federal Election Commission’s Web site and look for “Independent expenditures only.” Cobert’s Super PAC is number 16 on the list, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Kewl!
Listen to Colbert, then listen to other political analysis who thought his seemingly political stunt was only for sake of comedy. The purpose appears to be bringing a real awareness to problem of unidentified moneys that can be funneled into various political campaigns without fear as to having a finger pointed at the source. As Colbert has shown, anyone can do it! Just fill out one form, FEC Form 1, and bingo! Unless, of course, if you work for the media and want to promote your PAC on your own show or, in my case, may various commentaries, you may have to have a hearing. But otherwise….
That’s it. I’ll start my own PAC, “Americans Sick and Tired of Donors Hiding Behind Loopholes or in Black Holes.” That’s a bit too long. How about “Americans for Campaign Reform.” No, that seems too disingenuous. “Americans for America.” That’s it!
There is also the belief that no foreign moneys enter United States campaign coffers. But Colbert’s site, as with others visited, asks only three questions to verify if the funds are legal.
By checking this box, I certify that: (1) This contribution is made from my own funds and will not be reimbursed by any other person or entity; (2) This contribution is not from a federal-government contractor; (3) I am a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted permanent U.S. resident.
Now who is going to lie about being a citizen, or is actually being paid by their employer to donate, or whose company, under another name, has government contracts. Who? Not a true American!
There are two types of political action committees, and here comes the scary stuff, the separate segregated funds (SSF) and nonconnected political committees. As the names suggest, the SSF segregates funds for a specific candidate or issue campaign while the nonconnected does not. And there is another difference.
Read the information provided by the FEC;
SSFs must inform their solicitees of the political purpose of the SSF and of the individual’s right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. SSFs are specifically prohibited from using threats of physical force, job discrimination or financial reprisal when soliciting contributions. Moreover, if the SSF uses a guideline in soliciting contributions, the solicitees must be informed that they are free to contribute more or les than the amount stated. In addition, SSFs may not accept as contributions any dues or fees obtained as a condition of membership or employment. 11 CFR 114.5(a).
Nonconnected political committees are not subject to these solicitation restrictions.
Does that mean that if Colbert or Rove or the Koch brothers really want your money, they can send out the goons with the brass-knuckles to do some “convincing?” “Your $10,000 donation was not enough and if you want to play golf again, you need to hand over another $10,000?” Can the goons with the crooked noses do that legally?
I am going to leave that question to the powers that be, the U.S. Supreme Court. Your remember the Supreme Court; the people who said that a corporation is a person and can spend unlimited amounts of money through a nonconnected, independent expenditure political action committees, and said money equals free speech. Yea, Court.
Yes, this is all a bit silly, but it is also very serious. If we are going to buy off our politicians, I, for one, want to know who the purchaser is. Money is not free speech. Speech is free speech, with “free” being the optimum word.
I’ll give you that the election of 1796 had partisan newspapers supporting their own candidates while vilifying the opponents. But the Founders never imagined anyone being called a “billionaire” or mass media, or the Internet, or presidential campaigns costing hundreds of millions of dollars, dollars that could be put to better use, like paying for public education.
Americans do not like their government for a plethora of reasons. One of the most prevalent is that our politicians are bought and paid for by the rich, by corporations, by unions and by the Koch brothers. We need to find a Congress that has the guts to say “NO MORE” and find a way to allow the middle and lower economic classes have a real voice, a free voice.
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.