The interesting corruption is the people who live within a system where influence is peddled and reckoned and bragged about as a function of the norms of culture that have evolved.–Lawrence Lessig
Writing in the October 13th issue of The New Yorker, Evan Osnos discusses Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Law Professor who opposes the influence of money in politics. Lessig created MAYDAY PAC to generously, significantly fund candidates committed to ending the undue influence of money in politics which he believes disenfranchises most Americans and undermines democratic government. Osnos writes:
In 2010, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court, arguing that campaign contributions were a form of “political speech,” struck down limits on the amount of money corporations, unions, and rich individuals could spend on elections. The decision led to a surge of money greater than anyone predicted. Between 2008 and 2012, campaign spending shot up by nearly two billion dollars. Much of that growth came from superPACs, the committees that are allowed to spend whatever they want as long as they don’t work directly with candidates. In 2012, super PACs spent a billion dollars; seventy-three per cent of the money came from a hundred people. The other large source of growth has been in so-called dark money—donations from nonprofits that are allowed to keep their donors anonymous. In late August, before the midterm campaign had reached full speed, dark-money spending had climbed to fifty million dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics—seven times the sum that had been spent by that point in 2010.
Campaign finance is of great interest now in NY-23, where incumbent Rep. Tom Reed seems to many to be more responsive to the interests of campaign contributors than to his local constituents. Tom Reed, who voted against public financing of Presidential Elections and Party Conventions, is not known to favor reform. Democrat Martha Robertson supports reform; she writes that she “is opposed to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which did immeasurable harm to our democracy. Corporations are not people and do not deserve the same rights. She believes that we must reduce the overwhelming influence of money in politics.”
Osnos’ article, Embrace the Irony, is well worth reading.
© William Hungerford – October 2014