In Oct. 9 IssueRussell County NewsBy Kathy Foley, Columnist
We need to be afraid. We need to be very afraid. What we need to fear is not that the Obama Administration is going to turn us into a socialist nation; nor that the Muslims are going to take over and we are going to be subject to sharia law; not even "big" government or the deficit. No, what we need to be afraid of is that our government is now up for sale to the highest bidder. We are now seeing the full effect of last January's Supreme Court decision to treat corporations as if they are people and allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money to defeat political candidates they oppose-and all without disclosing who they are. Oh, they have benevolent sounding names such as "American Crossroads" or "Citizens United" or "League of American Voters" or any number of other benign or altruistic names. But be not deceived. They are enormous, wealthy, powerful and maybe even foreign entities spending millions and millions to manipulate us into doing their bidding.
President Obama warned about this very thing in his State of the Union Address back in January when he said, "…last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems." And he was right on the mark. Naturally, however, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, with the help of the powerful Chamber of Commerce (which I'll discuss in greater detail later) killed any such legislation that would have corrected the problem.
We, here in Kentucky, are now seeing many television ads attacking Jack Conway paid for by "American Crossroads." America Crossroads is a recently formed PAC (Political Action Committee) organized by Carl Rove and former RNC chairman, Ed Gillespie. We have learned through FEC filings that in August over 90% of the money raised by Carl Rove and his group has come from just a handful of billionaires: Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas; Robert Rowling, another Texas oil & gas billionaire and CEO of TRT Holdings which owns the luxury Omni Hotel chain, Gold's Gym franchise and is involved in oil & gas exploration through Tana Oil & Gas; Jerry Perenchio of Bel Air, California, former co-chair of John McCain's national finance committee, worth $2.1 billion primarily made from the sale of Spanish language TV station, Univision. What's even more alarming, however, is that American Crossroads has a partner organization, American Crossroads GPS, which is organized under a section of the tax code that does not require disclosure of donors. Crossroads and Crossroads GPS plan to spend $18 million in campaign ads targeting democrats in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington. And over 75% of this money is coming from anonymous donors. We are not allowed to know who they are. Ask yourself, do these billionaires really have the best interest of the average American in mind? I seriously doubt it.
There's also the oil billionaire Koch Brothers' organization called "Americans for Prosperity" that has literally developed, funded and pulled the strings of the so-called grassroots Tea Party. Koch Industries, named one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States by University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute, has spent over $45 million trying to defeat Democratic candidates in this mid-term election.
Now we learn that the largest attack campaign ever against Democrats is being waged by the Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without disclosing any of its donors. They have promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat Jack Conway, Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown, Joe Sestak, and Tom Perriello, among other Democrats across the country. As of September 15th, they had placed more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP senate candidates alone. ThinkProgress.org initiated an investigation which found that the Chamber of Commerce funds its political attack campaign from its general account, which solicits funds from foreign businesses and entities. Although the Chamber spokesperson, Tita Freeman, has denied the use of foreign funds by simply stating, "We have a system in place" to prevent foreign funding for the Chamber's "political activities," no other proof has been provided. I guess we are just supposed to take their word for it.
In recent years the Chamber has been aggressive with its fundraising efforts abroad and founding foreign chapters known as Business Councils or "AmChams," raising money from foreign corporations, including those controlled by foreign governments. Let's look for example, at the "U.S.-Bahrain Business Council" in the small, oil-rich country of Bahrain. The bylaws state that it is an office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Its board members are Bahrainian-Aluminum Bahrain, Gulf Air, Midal Cables, the Nass Group, Bahrain Maritime & Mercantile International, the Bahrain Petroleum Company (state-owned), Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company and First Leasing Bank-all contributing at least $10,000 each sending or wiring their money directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's general account in Washington DC.
In addition, the Chamber also operates an office in India, the U.S.-India Business Council and generates more than $200,000 annually to the Chamber's general account. On their website, they claim to "play a helpful role in guiding U.S. companies to India, while supporting various policy initiatives that will enhance India's reputation as a major manufacturing and investment hub." That is to say, outsourcing American jobs.
The Chamber has dues-paying affiliates all over the world including China, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, to name a few. And there are many reasons for foreign corporations to want to defeat Democratic candidates in November. Did you ever wonder why the Republicans don't support President Obama's efforts to stop the tax breaks for companies who outsource their jobs to other countries? Or, why have the Chamber of Commerce, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans so vehemently and successfully fought to kill any campaign finance legislation aimed at transparency and disclosure? Let me guess, for the good of the average American Citizen? NOT!
I am urging everyone to vote on November 2nd, but when you do, think long and carefully about your choices. Ask yourself, who are these organizations with the beneficent sounding names that want to convince you to vote for these extremist Tea Party/Republican candidates? And what is their real motivation? They tell you to "take back the government." But what they really mean is, "We are buying the government we want you to have and we have the bucks to do it."
I'll say it again,
WE SHOULD BE VERY AFRAID.