Obama warns of ‘corporate takeover of our democracy’

OBAMA WARNS OF ‘CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF OUR DEMOCRACY’…. We talked earlier this week about far-right interest groups collecting millions for attack ads, all in support of Republican candidates, and financed through shadowy groups awash in undisclosed donations. The NYT raised the specter of “a relatively small cadre of deep-pocketed donors, unknown to the general public … shaping the battle for Congress.”

It’s not an issue Democrats spend a lot of time talking about — they have plenty of other items they’re trying to emphasize — which is why I was glad to see President Obama take some to talk about this at an event last night in Connecticut.

“I want you to consider this — right now, all across the country, special interests are planning and running millions of dollars of attack ads against Democratic candidates. Because last year, there was a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United. They’re allowed to spend as much as they want without ever revealing who’s paying for the ads. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Millions of dollars. And the groups are benign-sounding: Americans for Prosperity. Who’s against that? Or Committee for Truth in Politics. Or Americans for Apple Pie. Moms for Motherhood. I made those last two up.

“None of them will disclose who’s paying for these ads. You don’t know if it’s a Wall Street bank. You don’t know if it’s a big oil company. You don’t know if it’s an insurance company. You don’t even know if it’s a foreign-controlled entity. In some races, they are spending more money than the candidates…. They’re spending more money than the parties.

“They want to take Congress back and return to the days where lobbyists wrote the laws. It is the most insidious power grab since the monopolies of the Gilded Age. That’s happening right now. So there’s a lot of talk about populist anger and grassroots. But that’s not what’s driving a lot of these elections.

“We tried to fix this, but the leaders of the other party wouldn’t even allow it to come up for a vote. They want to keep the public in the dark. They want to serve the special interests that served them so well over the last 19 months.

“We will not let them. We are not about to allow a corporate takeover of our democracy.”

Voters may not mind a corporate takeover of our democracy; at this point, it’s hard to say. But given the number of attack ads the public will see from these “independent” groups, it’s a message voters should probably be aware of.