“The problem we have in this country, and we’ve had for a long time, is that Washington works for those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. If you’re a huge corporation, if you’re a billionaire, boy, your voice gets heard in that place and what you want gets attended to.”— Sen. Elizabeth Warren, on The Daily Show Wednesday night. Watch the full interview.
“People with the means to write Christie a $100,000 check he asked for have a right to be heard in politics, but so do the vast majority of Americans who don’t have that kind of money. What will make the campaign finance system better — and our elected officials more responsive — is participation by more of us, not a heavy reliance on just a select, wealthy few.”— Public Campaign Action Fund Executive Director David Donnelly in an oped in New Jersey in response to Gov, Chris Christie’s call to get rid of contribution limits.
"Everybody knows the coordination rules are a joke," Adam Smith, a spokesman for the campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign, told The Huffington Post Thursday. "They don’t work, they aren’t enforced, and these situations make that clear."
"McCutcheon v. FEC, the landmark case that threw out aggregate limits on campaign spending last week, Chief Justice John Roberts made clear that for the majority of this current Supreme Court, corruption means quid pro quo corruption. In other words, if it’s not punishable by a bribery statute, it’s not corruption. This is a reasonable mistake to make at a dinner party. But it’s a disastrous mistake to make for democracy, when the stakes are so high."
Want to know how Washington works? Here’s an example from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (via CNN):
His team built a fundraising strategy around that strength in the run-up to the last two elections. They invited Republican lobbyists to dinner with McConnell in a private room at Carmine’s, a family-style Italian restaurant in downtown Washington, with no apparent price of admission. But after spaghetti and meatballs, McConnell thanked everyone for coming, told them he needed them to contribute the maximum allowable in personal money ($30,800 in 2012) to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and then sat back and waited. What followed was a long, pained silence, one of McConnell’s preferred negotiating tools. Then, one after another, attendees acquiesced. Organizers called these “the sandbag dinners.”
“NASCAR drivers wear the corporate logos of their sponsors on their suits. The justices who sided with plutocracy ought to wear sponsorship logos on their robes, too.”— Katrina vanden Heuvel, in the Washington Post.
"Over time, a political system that gives the wealthy more power is a political system that is going to do more to protect the interests of the wealthy. It’s the Doom Loop of Oligarchy, and we’re seeing it daily."
"Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption,” and other ridiculous quotes from the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC
“We’re small folks and we’ll never attend black-tie, thousand-dollar-a-plate fund-raising galas in Manhattan, but we demand justice. We, the people, demand justice.”— A man in West Virginia, questioning Sen. Joe Manchin’s efforts to hold accountable Freedom Industries for the chemical leak that left 300,000 people without tap water earlier this year. It’s a must-read story on power and influence in state politics.
“Look at whoever is most powerful in Congress right now — and you magnify their power. Think back to the Robber Baron age — there were no restrictions; it was just kind of a free-for-all. That’s where we’re heading.”— Sunlight Foundation’s Lisa Rosenberg on the Supreme Court and money in politics (Los Angeles Times)
"Mr. Adelson’s effort officially kicked off on Wednesday, when lawmakers, including a senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the businessman and his family, introduced legislation originally drafted with Mr. Adelson’s lobbyist.”
“I hope it’s not working. Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”— Top GOP donor Ken Langone, making an outrageous claim about those criticizing the wealthy and wanting them to pay higher taxes. (Politico)
“More than 66,000 ads in U.S. House and Senate races aired through March 9, more than triple what candidates and allied groups aired during a comparable period four years ago, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.”—Bloomberg, “Obamacare Foes Run Nearly Half of Early Ads for Congress”
“Look at what’s happening in politics. What’s talking the loudest is money.”— Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, when asked why more women and minorities don’t run for office. “Money,” she replied. (WSJ)
“The 1980s changed America. These were the years when corporations and wealthy individuals organized to fight back against the liberal forces that had dominated the ’60s and ’70s. Moneyed interests organized new groups, especially political action committees that were prepared to spend large sums to achieve their political objectives. This began the three-decade process that has made money the most important element of our public life, a form of pollution way beyond the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency.”— Former Washington Post reporter Robert Kaiser in an oped this weekend: “How Republicans lost their minds, Democrats lost their souls and Washington lost its appeal.
“If regular people knew how much time members of Congress spent fundraising and where they were raising money, they would be shocked. They elect these people because they expect their lawmakers to do their job, and when they get here, they’re having fancy dinners and flying off to resort towns with people who are definitely not their constituents.”— Public Campaign’s Adam Smith on the fancy restaurants and resorts where members of Congress raise money. (AlJazeera America)