Doug Hughes’ Airmail Letter Campaign To Overturn Citizens United.

by Jerry Alatalo

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.”

– ELWYN BROOKS “E.B.” WHITE (1899-1985) American writer, editor

(wikipedia.org)
(wikipedia.org)

Doug Hughes deserves being honored and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his effort on behalf of American democracy. Most people in America want Citizens United overturned. America’s top civilian honor goes to men and women who have made efforts “In especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

After considering what Florida U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Doug Hughes might have gone through before deciding to land with his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capital Building, the idea of taking whatever steps necessary for the American people to honor the man took hold. The popular image of postal carriers is the rugged man or woman who delivers your letters through rain, snow, hail and thunderstorms come what may, but Mr. Hughes took that concept to an entirely higher-purpose, democracy-protecting other level.

One wonders how his experience at delivering the mail, in particular the evolving of political mailings through the years, figured into his decision to take non-violent, civil disobedience action. Mr. Hughes probably noticed the difference after the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court in 2011, when the number of election-time mailings going from his Jeep to his mailbag to people’s homes and businesses started to increase dramatically. Every one of those correspondences passed through his hands while scanning the addresses to determine the accurate destination, almost like reading a book about the consequences for the American people of the Supreme Court’s regretful decision.

So, he personally saw the great increase in mailings to citizens in his Florida region coming from super-pacs/organizations spending on behalf of candidates to get them elected, with good God-fearing names like “Americans for Freedom”, “Patriots for the U.S.A.”, “Founding Fathers of America”, or, to go all the way with ridiculous names for super-pacs, “Americans for America”. While Doug Hughes zeroed in on the correct mailing address on each piece of mail, he most likely also observed the deceptively named political groups on return addresses in the upper left-hand corners of the envelopes, and like seeds grow after being planted, the idea for taking “the mail” to the Capital came to life and took shape.

—-

The Real News Network produced a two-minute video which explains how the mainstream media put a spin on Mr. Hughes’ truly heroic act of political conscience, focusing on terrorism and fear while dreadfully failing to report on his noble intention: getting rid of Citizens United and its allowing those with the most money to literally buy up democracy in America. Media corporations, owned by the same wealthy people who became able to buy elections after Citizens United, once again intentionally dropped the ball and avoided the “elephant in the room” – a completely unacceptable situation of too much money killing the democratic process in elections across the United States.

(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

—-

Like most Americans, Mr. Hughes came to conclude that something is seriously wrong when money cancels democracy, and that strong collective action is necessary to correct that wrong. He deserves Americans’ profound thanks and appreciation for taking an action carrying with it a level of personal risk and sacrifice most would never seriously contemplate.

Doug Hughes delivered “the mail”, carrying out an amazing handoff of 535 letters addressed to America’s elected representatives calling for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that true democracy is the law to observe in America for all time. An Article V Constitutional Convention or super-majority (two-thirds) vote in the U.S. Congress is necessary for an amendment overturning Citizens United to become reality.

—-

From wikipedia.org:

Amendments may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification in one of two ways:

  • Affirmative votes by two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.

OR

  • A national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (34) of the states.

To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):

  • The request of legislatures of three-fourths (38) of the states.

OR

  • State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (38) of the states.

—-

Mr. Hughes’ self-sacrificial, honorable example is a profound one very worthy of emulation in ways which require little or no risk by comparison. Share the path of true democracy with Doug Hughes and an increasing number of determined, morally motivated men and women across the 50 states of America, then create and “deliver” your own personal message to elected representatives at both state and national levels.

The path begins at: thedemocracyclub.org

Mount Rainier - 1

 

Casino Politics.

Wall Street’s Investments in Deregulation 

(Cross-posted from opensecrets.org on January 16, 2015)

8125030177_e785d66309_o

Wall Street did its part to make 2014 the most expensive midterm election ever, outpacing its 2010 total and once again putting the bulk of its financial muscle behind GOP candidates and groups.

Donors from the securities and investment industry, otherwise known as Wall Street, contributed a total of $184 million to candidates, parties and outside spending groups during the 2014 midterms — a $75 million increase over the last comparable election.

That figure pales in comparison to 2012’s $288 million, but that was a presidential year in which one of the White House candidates came from the world of finance and the other had been critical of the industry’s role in triggering the Great Recession.

Despite the large overall spending discrepancy between 2012 and 2014, though, the difference in contributions to outside spending groups was only about $22 million. Donations to outside spending organizations accounted for 39 percent of Wall Street’s total in 2014, jumping from $7 million in the 2010 cycle to $93 million in 2012 and dropping just a bit to $71 million in this last cycle.

Wall Street spending favored Republicans 62 percent of the time in the 2014 cycle, the second highest rate in more than two decades and just behind 2012’s 69 percent level.

With the GOP in charge in both the House and Senate, Wall Street’s investments are likely to show good returns. Already the industry has begun to chip away at the main law passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis that curtailed some of its riskier activities.

Wall Street’s Darlings

Despite its right-leaning partisan split overall, though, the financial industry’s preference for the GOP didn’t reign across the board. Democratic senator took in more campaign cash from Wall Street than their GOP colleagues, totaling nearly $10 million.

It was a different story in the House, where Republican members raked in $16.5 million in campaign donations compared to $10.3 million for Democrats.

Wall Street’s favorite Senate candidate in the past cycle was Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Booker took in nearly $2 million from Wall Street in his pair of Senate races in the past two years. The former Newark mayor is considered a friend to the bankers across the Hudson.

The noted defender of private equity garnered support from multiple hedge funds. Wall Street is just $34,000 short of being Booker’s top donor group, just after lawyers and law firms.

Goldman Sachs is sixth on Booker’s list of career donors, having contributed $59,600 to his campaigns.

Freshly crowned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cashed Wall Street checks worth $1.6 million over the past two years. Fellow Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) received $1 million and Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) both took in more than $900,000.

Wall Street also favored leadership in its House giving, donating $1.2 million to Speaker John Boehner‘s (R-Ohio) campaign. Former Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) followed Boehner in Wall Street contributions with nearly $700,000 but failed to defeat upstart opponent Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in the primary. (Cantor is still cashing checks from Wall Street, though now they come biweekly.)

Former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) received $560,503 from Wall Street, and Goldman Sachs alum Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) took in $485,788.

Power Players

The top of the list of Wall Street spending on the 2014 elections is dominated by a handful of mega-donors born out of Citizens United.

Wall Street’s highest spender in the 2014 cycle was Elliott Management. The hedge fund firm donated $12.3 million — the majority of which went to outside spending groups.

Elliott Management CEO Paul Singer accounted for nearly $10 million of that total, meaning he alone contributed more than any other Wall Street firm. Singer is a noted conservative donor who has given large sums to outside spending groups.

Paul Singer is Wall Street's biggest single donor.(Flickr/World Economic Forum)

Singer contributed nearly $3 million to American Unity PAC in 2014, a conservative gay rights group he helped found. He also made multiple seven-figure donations to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC. Singer was the top individual conservative donor in 2014; only liberal donors Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg spent more.

Renaissance Technologies, another hedge fund, ranked second in 2014-cycle donations with $8.8 million. As with Elliott Management, most of that total can be attributed to one individual, co-CEO Robert Mercer. Mercer and his wife combined to contribute $8.4 million to conservative candidates and causes this cycle.

Mercer personally donated $2.5 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Koch brothers group founded for the 2014 midterms. David and Charles Koch each managed $2 million donations. Mercer also made $1 million dollar contributions to Club for Growth Action and Ending Spending Action Fund — the super PAC wing of the group started by Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

TD Ameritrade, the Omaha-based online broker founded by Ricketts, came in third in contributions at $4.9 million.

Renaissance Technologies’ founder James Simons is also a major donor, although along with wife Marilyn he favors liberal groups and candidates. No longer running Renaissance, Simons’ 2014 donations are not included in the hedge fund’s total.

Simons’ biggest 2014 contributions of $5 and $2 million went to the Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC respectively. The pair of super PACs have close ties to now Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Ricketts and his wife Marlene donated $6.7 million to conservative groups and candidates during the 2014 cycle. The pair combined to contribute nearly $6 million to Ending Spending Action Fund.

Goldman Sachs contributed more to candidates than any other firm — $2.1 million. Goldman’s employees and PAC contributed an additional $1.3 million to the parties, nearly $900,000 of which went to the three major Republican bodies. McConnell received more money from Goldman than any other candidate, taking home a shade less than $100,000. Goldman Sachs ranked sixth in total contributions among Wall Street firms.

UBS and Blackstone Group were also among the biggest donors to candidates, donating more than $1.5 million directly to campaigns.

Lobbying

Wall Street’s lobbying total for 2014 is again headed toward the $100 million range. Fourth quarter reports are due to be filed next week, but through the third quarter, Wall Street firms had spent $74 million on more than 700 guns for hire. In 2013 Wall Street’s lobbying total fell just short of nine figures, coming in at $99.1 million. Lobbying by the securities and investment industry peaked in 2010 (as it did for many industries) at $105.6 million.

Industry trade groups Security Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Investment Company Institute combined to spend nearly $10 million on lobbying in the first three quarters of this year.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs spent more on lobbying than any other Wall Street firms, shelling out $3.2 and $2.9 million respectively through Sept. 30.

The common thread in Wall Street lobbying reports for 2014 was overwhelmingly Dodd-Frank, the 2010 law passed in response to the financial crisis. It has remained a hotly debated topic for bankers, politicians and regulators since its passage.

And in that sense, Wall Street’s GOP spending spree makes perfect sense; Republicans have made it clear that they oppose much of Dodd-Frank, favoring a return to the deregulation that led to record profits for financial firms and bankers — despite at least some consensus that those freewheeling days contributed to the financial meltdown.

Wall Street and its lobbyists claimed a victory against the law late last year when one of Dodd-Frank’s provisions was repealed in an eleventh-hour spending bill using language written by Citigroup lobbyists themselves.

Known as section 716, the provision required banks to conduct certain types of derivatives trading separately from the portions of their operations that are federally insured. Wall Street critics argue this provision — and much of Dodd-Frank — is needed because bankers will risk more when they know the federal government will rescue them should their wagers go bad.

Another bill often listed on Wall Street lobbying filings was Sen. Sherrod Brown‘s (D-Ohio) Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act (TBTF for short, an abbreviation which most commonly refers to “too big to fail”). The bill, which is opposed by the financial houses, would set new capital requirements for banks, mandating they keep more cash on hand.