Third district voters support campaign finance reform

About 70 percent of voters in Iowa’s third district disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on corporate spending in election campaigns, according a poll of 548 registered voters conducted by SurveyUSA in IA-03 between March 10 and March 14. Common Cause, Public Campaign Action Fund and MoveOn.org Political Action commissioned the survey. The whole polling memo is here (pdf file). Full results and cross-tabs are here.

Asked, “Should corporations be able to spend money to support or oppose candidates for public office?” 70 percent of respondents said no, while just 21 percent said yes.

Two-thirds of respondents said Democrats have “not done enough to reduce the influence of special-interest money in politics,” while only 30 percent agreed that “Democrats have made a serious attempt to reduce the influence of special-interest money in politics.”

Respondents were asked about two different proposed laws in response to the Supreme Court ruling. One would require corporations to disclose the money they are spending in elections and would force the corporate CEO to appear in political advertising. A plurality of respondents said that would limit the influence of special interests “a little.”

The poll also asked about a law that would create a voluntary public financing system for elections, in which candidates could receive public matching funds if they reject special interest money and individual contributions exceeding $100. A plurality of respondents said that approach would limit the influence of special interests “a lot.” 40 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports that law, and only 22 percent said they would be less likely to re-elect a member of Congress who supports the law.

Representative Leonard Boswell sharply criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. I hope this poll receives his attention and prompts him to join the co-sponsors of the Fair Elections Now act. Click here for more information about that approach to campaign finance reform.

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We're in for it now

Corporations already have too much control over American political discourse, and that problem will only get worse thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. Adam B posted excerpts from the decision and the dissents.

The SCOTUS blog posted the complete text of the ruling and linked to many reactions and commentaries.

Election law expert Richard Hasen concludes that the court just killed campaign finance reform:

It is time for everyone to drop all the talk about the Roberts court’s “judicial minimalism,” with Chief Justice Roberts as an “umpire” who just calls balls and strikes. Make no mistake, this is an activist court that is well on its way to recrafting constitutional law in its image. The best example of that is this morning’s transformative opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. Today the court struck down decades-old limits on corporate and union spending in elections (including judicial elections) and opened up our political system to a money free-for-all.

The Des Moines Register assessed the impact on Iowa law, suggesting that our state may not be able to continue to ban corporate campaign contributions. (I thought this ruling pertained to independent expenditures by corporations, not direct corporate donations to candidates.) Kathie Obradovich collected some comments from Iowa politicians. Democrats slammed the ruling–not that they’ve accomplished anything on campaign finance reform since taking power.

All in all, a depressing day for our sorry excuse for a democracy. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Representative Leonard Boswell has introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn this ruling:

“I have introduced this important legislation because the Supreme Court’s ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans,” Boswell said in a statement. “The court’s elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly.”

Boswell said House Joint Resolution 68 would disallow a corporation or labor organization from using any operating funds or any other funds from its general treasury to pay for an advertisement in connection with a federal election campaign, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate.

“Corporations already have an active role in American political discourse through million-dollar political action committees and personal donations to campaigns,” Boswell said. “The legislation I introduced will prevent the Wall Street corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars from turning around and pouring that same money into candidates that will prevent financial regulation on their industry. No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote.”

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Congratulations to Iowa CCI

John Nichols posted his annual “most valuable progressives” list at The Nation this week, and he named Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement as the “most valuable grassroots advocacy group”:

For three decades, Iowa CCI has built and maintained remarkable rural-urban coalitions to fight factory farms, urban blight and abuses of Latino and Asian immigrants. In the current financial crisis, the group has ramped up its activism on behalf of banking reforms that free up credit for small farms, businesses and families while cracking down on payday loan operations. When the American Bankers Association held its annual convention in Chicago, National People’s Action called for protests that declared, “We didn’t break the banks–the big banks broke us!” Iowa CCI, long a backbone member of the NPA coalition, showed up in force. Viewers of Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! got a flavor of the group’s in-your-face activism as Iowa farmer Larry Ginter brought activists from across the country to their feet with his cry, “If you are from rural America and tired of bank greed, stand up! If you are from urban America and you’re tired of bank greed, stand up! If you think it’s time to put people first and hold banks accountable, stand up!”

In January Jason Hancock profiled Iowa CCI for the Iowa Independent. The group has a very large statewide membership and works on a wide range of issues. However, at the state capitol they are outgunned by interests blocking campaign finance reform and increased regulation of factory farms.

You can follow Iowa CCI on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

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