WHITE HOUSE KEEPS FOCUS ON CITIZENS UNITED FALLOUT…. During an appearance in Connecticut this week, President Obama focused on an issue we don’t hear much about lately — the way in which the Citizens United ruling is shaping the midterm elections.
With 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 president raised the specter of “a corporate takeover of our democracy.”
Today, in his weekly address, Obama focused attention on the issue again, explaining that voters are seeing deceptive ads from secretive organizations collecting undisclosed contributions. He emphasized that he supported a new proposal — requiring groups to “say who you are and who’s paying for your ad” — but Republicans refused to let the Senate even vote on the measure. It’s all part of “a power grab, pure and simple.”
The president conceded that it’s too late to protect the integrity of this year’s elections, but offered some sound advice to voters: “[A]ny time you see an attack ad by one of these shadowy groups, you should ask yourself, who is paying for this ad? Is it the health insurance lobby? The oil industry? The credit card companies?
“But more than that, you can make sure that the tens of millions of dollars spent on misleading ads do not drown out your voice. Because no matter how many ads they run – no matter how many elections they try to buy – the power to determine the fate of this country doesn’t lie in their hands. It lies in yours. It’s up to all of us to defend that most basic American principle of a government of, by, and for the people. What’s at stake is not just an election. It’s our democracy itself.”
I don’t know how much of a difference this will make — the vast majority of the public has no idea how or why the rules have changed, or why Republicans would fight against disclosure and transparency — but it’s nevertheless good to see the White House shine a light on the issue.