Perhaps you'd expect no
more from the Republican leader of the Senate who proclaimed three years
ago that the GOP's first priority was to get Obama out of the White
House. But Senator Mitch McConnell's speech Friday at the American
Enterprise Institute in Washington is simply bonkers.
The only reason I bring it up is because it offers an inside look at how the Republican
goal of getting rid of Obama is inextricably linked to the Republican
Supreme Court's decision equating corporations with people under the
First Amendment, and to the Republican's current determination to keep
Americans in the dark about which corporations contribute what.
In the upside-down world of regressive
Republicanism, McConnell thinks proposed legislation requiring companies
to disclose their campaign spending would stifle their free speech.
He describes the current push to disclose the
sources behind campaign contributions as a "political weapon," used by
the Democrats, "to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation."
Harassment and intimidation? It used to be called accountability to shareholders and consumers.
Five members of the Supreme Court think
corporations are people. Mitt Romney agrees. And now the minority leader
of the Senate -- the highest-ranking Republican official in America --
takes this logic to its absurd conclusion: If corporations are people,
they must be capable of feeling harassed and intimidated if their
shareholders or consumers don't approve of their political expenditures.
Hell, they might even throw a tantrum. Or cry. Corporations have feelings.
This isn't just whacko. It also defies law
and logic. What are corporations anyway, separate and apart from their
shareholders and consumers? Legal fictions, pieces of paper.
And whom do corporations exist for if not the
people who legally own them and those who purchase the products and
services they sell?
Clearly, McConnell doesn't want corporations
to be forced to disclose their political contributions because he and
other Republicans worry that some shareholders and consumers would react
badly if they knew -- and thereby constrain such giving.
And the reason McConnell and other
Republicans don't want any constraint on corporate political giving is
most CEOs are Republicans who want to use their firms -- and the money
their shareholders legally own -- as secret slush funds for the
Republican Party, funneled through front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS.
Such nonprofits have spent significantly more than Super PACs on
elections since 2010, according to the Center for Public Integrity and
Center for Responsive Politics. Nonprofits have spent $95 million on
elections since 2010, while Super PACs, which are required to disclose
their donors, have spent $65 million, the Centers found.
Crossroads GPS has disclosed on its tax
returns that 23 donors to it have each given $1 million or more to
finance its campaign activities so far this year. But Crossroads claims
status as a nonprofit under IRS rules -- a "social welfare" organization"
that doesn't have to disclose its donors -- even though anyone with half
a brain knows its overriding purpose is to influence elections.
McConnell and other Republicans
conveniently forget secret campaign money was at the heart of the
Watergate scandals 40 years ago. And that even the Supreme Court in
its heinous "Citizens United" decision upheld the constitutionality of
disclosure requirements on corporations and other outside groups.
Mitch McConnell wants to give some
cover to his Republican colleagues who will be voting later this month
or early next month on the bill to force full disclosure of corporate
political expenses. But his speech at the American Enterprise Institute
doesn't provide cover. It cloaks the whole Republican enterprise in