Patty Judge enters the US Senate race in Iowa. It's about Citizens United.

A fourth Iowa Democrat joins the race to un-seat republican US Senator Chuck Grassley. Her name is Patty Judge. US Senate candidate Tom Fiegen — a Sanders Democrat — issued a warning to progressive Iowa democrats this week about the Big Money influence pulling the strings of this latest candidate to enter the race.

“I welcome Lt. Governor Judge to the race because of the contrast between us. Her political base is big money industrial agriculture interests where poisoning Iowa’s waters is part of the deal. The majority of Iowans want clean drinking water and small family farmers growing more fresh healthy local food. A majority of Iowans want Citizens United overturned. Make no mistake, this election is a choice between status-quo politics where everything is for sale to the high bidder and the politics of putting the needs of working people ahead of Super PACs.”

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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: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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David Bossie's unethical pitch to small donors

Last month I was on the receiving end of a push-poll/fundraising call from Newt Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions. Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com read my post and said it “sounds like a clear cut example of fundraising under the guise of a survey (‘FRUGGing’)”. The Marketing Research Association considers FRUGGing unethical, because

The use of a poll to conduct fund raising has raised the distrust of the public to a point where they refuse to cooperate with researchers trying to obtain the opinions of any number of issues, including political campaign, and government: federal, state and local research. In a country inundated with telemarketing and direct mail fund raising it is more and more difficult for marketing and opinion researchers to get accurate data.

Although I declined to give Newt’s group any money, I must look like a sucker for conservative groups peddling fake surveys. On Wednesday, May 20, the phone rang around 8:25 pm and the caller asked for me by name. She worked for Infocision (the same company that made the calls for Gingrich’s group), and she asked whether I would participate in a brief survey for David Bossie’s group Citizens United.

As I always do when I receive any political call, I grabbed a pen and paper to take notes. More details are after the jump. You be the judge of whether Bossie’s group is also FRUGGing.

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