Undue Political Influence

Citizens-United

Privately held Koch Industries generates enough profit to elevate Charles and David Koch, sons of the founder, to the top 10 wealthiest in America. Most billionaires give back a portion of their wealth to charities and non-profits through foundations. Warren Buffet, number 2 on the list, directs his charitable giving to the titular foundation of number one on the list – Bill Gates.

The Koch brothers have multiple foundations focused on the public good. However, their political contributions generate the most discussion and controversy. Their fundraising success will soon dwarf both the Republican and Democrat National Committees, the RNC and DNC respectively. In 2012, their fundraising group raised $400M for conservative candidates. The RNC and DNC each spent about $650M. Mostly dark money to non-profit organizations which spend no more than 50% of their budget on political influence. Why dark money? Dark money donors are anonymous, unlike the Super Pacs which require disclosure of all donors and amount contributed. Due to this loophole, a small group of people can have a massive influence on political speech and remain in the shadows, that’s why it’s called dark money.

The Koch’s influence will more than double for 2016. They lead a group of over 300 donors which will amass almost $900M for this year’s election season.

The democrats want to overturn Citizens United because it allows corporations to contribute money to Super Pacs. My greater concern is the cover provided for Dark Money donors. I believe that all donors to Super Pacs and Dark Money organizations should undergo the same transparency.

The Koch brothers have turned political donations into an art form which is permitted by the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first five words of the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law”, are emphatic. It doesn’t say that Congress will make “some laws” or “most laws”, but “no law”. Also, notice that “no law” is singular, which means not a  single one. It doesn’t empower the Executive or Judicial branch to impose their interpretation either.

Political speech is under the heading of freedom of speech. The problem with restricting political speech is that it will always favor the incumbent or a candidate with name recognition.

I support two laws to reduce political corruption: term limits and dark money donor transparency.

Update: The Koch’s announced that they will not fund any pro-Trump or anti-Hillary ads this year.

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