Devils, dirty deeds, & dark money
During last November's general election, one of the most hotly contested issues was California's Proposition 32, the so-called "Paycheck Protection" initiative - which had nothing to do with protecting anything except the ability of the wealthy to purchase elections. Who was behind that proposal? Who funded it? Even now, seven months later, the Fair Political Practices Commission is still investigating the source of $11 million of "dark money," or anonymous funding for that proposition. So far, we've learned that an Arizona group, "Americans for Responsible Leadership," gave the $11 million to California's, "Small Business Action Committee" to promote Proposition 32 and oppose Governor Jerry Brown's counter-measure, Proposition 30. But that money didn't originate with the "Americans for Responsible Leadership" organization. No, they got it from another Arizona group, the "Center to Protect Patient's Rights," who, in turn, had received the money from the Virginia-based, "Americans for Job Security." But that still doesn't tell us who donated that money in the first place. The investigation continues. As an aside, I'd like to remind everybody that these virtuous and righteous organization names on political ads like "Americans for Job Security" are a bunch of bunkum. If a group of toxic polluters, war mongers, scam artists, and narco-bankers ever wanted to promote a proposition, they would probably call themselves, "Grandparents for the protection of puppies and kittens."
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, the wealthy, their corporations, and their lobbyists have been able to invest any amount of money they want with political action committees and influence any election, anonymously. Sometimes these people are proud of what they are trying to accomplish, like billionaire casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson and his wife, who spent a reported $150 million on Republican candidates and PACs last year. But when dirty deeds are afoot, these investors are not so proud and they hide in the shadows of dark money. Unfortunately, these are exactly the devils we voters need to know about. But can we? Do California voters have the right to know who funds our propositions?
To help us voters pull the curtain of secrecy away from those dark money, anonymous donors, our California Senate is currently considering SB 52, the California Disclosure Act. This Act, if passed, will require all political ads list the names of the three largest donors sponsoring it. Whether person or corporation, they will be listed on the ad for all to see. Simple. Logical.
Money is consistently the most significant determinant for winning elections, and last year, individuals, corporations, and organizations invested $450 million trying to sway us California voters. I, for one, would like to know who is trying to buy my vote, because knowing who, goes a long, long way towards figuring out, why. Please, Google California SB 52, follow its progress, and pressure your state senators and assemblymen to make sure it passes. We voters have the right to know which devils are doing dirty deeds with dark money.