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Tag Archives: money in politics
My UMB Colleagues Tom Ferguson and Jie Chen with their collaborator Paul Jorgenson are just out in Salon with a dire caution: Big money is destroying American populism. They find some reason for optimism in the elections of Bill de Blasio in New York and Marty Walsh in Boston, driven forward by union money. Nonetheless, their research shows that our partisan politics is largely a contest of different factions of the one percent, more in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Still, populist Democrats have to confront the realities of their party’s funding sources.
The other day I posted AFT Proud and argued that the American Federation of Teachers secret half-million dollar expenditure on behalf of Marty Walsh’s campaign for mayor of Boston should be considered an emblem of a corrupt campaign finance system. Some fellow Twitterers were dismayed that I would use the word corruption but I stand by the word and its meaning.
CSI Campaign Finance, aka Wesley Lowery of The Boston Globe, continues to unravel the mystery money spent on behalf of Marty Walsh by independent expenditure groups. On December 27 Lowery published American Federation of Teachers revealed as funder behind mysterious pro-Walsh PAC during campaign. Oddly the AFT spokespersons seem very proud of their secret $480,000 contribution to democracy. Their conduct suggests something other than pride; it reveals the corruption at the heart of our campaign finance farce-ocracy.
When I posted Marty Walsh and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Unions the other day I left the impression that the media had cast labor as a baleful presence dragging down the Boston mayoral candidacy of Marty Walsh against John Connolly. Since then I’ve had the chance to review a month’s worth of stories having to do with the candidates, labor, and fund-raising in the Boston Globe. So is the city’s indispensable media institution unfair to labor?
Yes. Sort of.
Today we are pleased to welcome a guest post. John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for the Nation magazine, and Robert McChesney is a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They will discuss their new book, “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America,” at 7 p.m. at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. The Old South Meeting House is located at 310 Washington St., Boston (at the intersection with Milk Street).
By John Nichols and Robert McChesney
There can no longer be any question that free and fair elections — what we were raised to believe was an American democratic birthright — are effectively being taken away from the people.
The New York Times published two fascinating articles touching on our toothless federal financial regulators on Monday. On the front page was a report Inside the End Of the U.S. Bid to Get Lehman and in the Business section Barofsky, Watchdog to Government Bank Bailout Program, Joins Law Firm. Barofsky was the special inspector general who reported on much shady dealing by government and banks in TARP. Robert Khuzami is a former director of enforcement at the S.E.C. who supported those in S.E.C. who declined to bring any action against Lehman or its former CEO, Richard Fuld. Khuzami left S.E.C. in July to join Kirkland & Ellis, a corporate firm that defends, you guessed it, banks. Barofsky is joining Jenner & Block, a practice with a vigorous practice suing those very banks on behalf of government and corporations.
In late May the Boston Globe’s Andrew Ryan wrote a story Lawyers help fill Daniel Conley’s war chest and I’ve been puzzling over it ever since. The gist of the story was that Suffolk DA Conley, now a candidate for mayor of Boston, had accumulated about $868,000 in his campaign finance account by the end of 2012. That sum included about $330,000 from attorneys since 2005, much of it from defense lawyers who have cases with the Suffolk DA. That is a common practice defended by some prominent and honorable Massachusetts political figures. But still . . .
Congressman Lynch, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In the Boston Herald today Congressman Stephen Lynch takes a solid whack at the Party Central Committee – excuse me, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – for showering Congressman Ed Markey with money while blocking contributions to Lynch. Here’s a sample:
“They haven’t been fair,” Lynch said of the national Democrats who he says have funneled donations and some union support Markey’s way. “No they haven’t been fair. I think they’ve done their best to discourage people from sending me contributions from Washington. They’ve basically said Markey’s our guy, don’t give to Lynch.
Princeton Professor Martin Gilens opens his book Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America with a quote from Justice Louis Brandeis: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
Professor Gilens does not have good news for us about what the concentration of money in the hands of a few is doing to our democracy.