By Susan Requa, LWVDV Co-President
“Money & Politics – Fixing our Tattered Democracy” was a recent presentation with discussion. Representative Mark DeSaulnier described the priorities of HR1, the bill in progress in the House of Representatives to repair our democratic campaign process.
Ann Ravel described the dismantling of the FEC and how, starting in 2007, leaders in Congress defeated the FEC enforcement mechanisms of disclosure, penalties, and accountability that allowed the dark money to proliferate. Ann Ravel is a senior fellow at Maplight, which partners with LWVC partner to provide details of top campaign donors for candidates and ballot measures on Voter’s Edge. “Overturn Citizens United” is the top priority to reform campaign finance laws, with a long-term battle ahead. She advised that political campaign corruption has been very hard to prove.
Trent Lange, President of California Clean Money Campaign, led the successful effort (LWVC included) to require disclosure of campaign advertising donors in issue-related ads. In California the actual political ad donors are listed in a clear banner at the top of each political ad. Non-profit 401(c)4s can no longer be named as front organizations, hiding the originators of the big money for political donations. Additionally, a Social Media Disclose Act has now passed the Legislature.
Michele Sutter, Co-founder of Money Out, Voters In, described how courts have redefined the First Amendment from free speech for people to free speech for corporations and moneyed interests. Michele described how the corporate media is benefiting from corporate advertising during campaigns, and in 2016 earned $6.7 billion through political advertising. She notes the lack of enforcement on the emoluments clause and supports impeachment proceedings to get public review of evidence in regard to Russian money in our election.