Tag Archive: Citizens United

Leveling the Electoral Playing Field

If you’ve ever campaigned for a political candidate, you’ve probably run across people whose tell you they’re not voting because “they are all crooks – taking money from special interests instead of representing me.” Certainly, the Citizens United Supreme Court…
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A Tale of Two Executives

Governor Christie’s disagreement with the New Jersey Supreme Court on its decision pertaining to the Council on Affordable Housing was not the first time that an executive disagreed with a high court.

Remember Barack Obama’s reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing unlimited secret political contributions by special interest groups? In his 2010 State of the Union Address, the President 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.”

Compare that statement to Governor Christie’s reaction to the COAH decision

“The chief justice’s activist opinion arrogantly bolsters another of the failures he and his colleagues have foisted on New Jersey taxpayers. This only steels my determination to continue to fight to bring common sense back to New Jersey’s judiciary.”

While Obama’s remarks attacked the decision and not the decision-makers, Christie impugned the integrity of the justices personally. That’s a big difference.

Whether you agree or disagree with President Obama, his reaction shows respect for the court, their processes, and the justices. But Christie’s childish bullying reaction shows disdain and immaturity. Christie may be able to snooker the voters of New Jersey, but he has proven time and again that he is not presidential material, and not ready for prime time on the world stage.

America deserves better than Chris Christie. And so does New Jersey.

They give in a shadow afraid to be known

Who are these people and organizations? What are their names? How much do they contribute? Assembly Bill 3863 would require disclosure of contributions received and expenditures made by committees or organizations not affiliated or coordinated with any candidate.

The bill passed the Assembly State Government Committee with the three Democrats, Linda Stender, John McKeon, and Herb Conaway in support. The two Republicans, Donna Simon and Chris Brown, abstained and issued a Minority Report. It pays lip service to transparency but serves as a preamble for likely opposition from other Republicans and from the governor who expects significant contributions to go to “independent” groups which support him.

Following the Citizens United court ruling at least 27 states have strengthened their campaign finance laws. It is important that New Jersey do so as well. The Assembly and Senate Democrats should be willing to make some accommodations to avert a veto or gain enough Republican support to override a veto. We need more sunshine and less shadow.  

Ending Campaign Finance Secrecy: Our Last Best Chance During the Gubernatorial Campaign

Following Citizens United at least 27 states have made changes to their election laws regarding expenditures, disclosure or both. NJ has not. Do you remember Reform Jersey Now and the Committee for Our Children’s future which operated under a veil of secrecy to support Governor Christie? Because of Citizens United and the rise of super PACS we can not prevent the onslaught of big money into the gubernatorial campaign. We can, however, enforce more disclosure.

When a person at an event last month complained about campaign finance laws, Governor Christie responded, “It’s all permitted under the laws … If you don’t like it, then change the laws.”

That is exactly what Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is proposing. Tomorrow an Assembly Committee will take up his bill A3863. It requires disclosure of the contributions received and the expenditures made by committees or organizations that are not affiliated or coordinated with a candidate, the candidates committee or joint candidates committee. It also requires similar disclosure for a committee organized to support or oppose a public question.

This bill will poke a light into the dark caverns where individuals, corporations, and interest groups can pour in sums of money that they are not allowed to contribute directly to campaigns. And by all reports the caverns will be overflowing with funds.  

$1.8 million for the guy NOT on the ballot

You want to know what’s wrong with campaign finance? Just take a look at the spending for the candidate not on the ballot in this election cycle:

Gov. Chris Christie wasn’t on the ballot this year, but he was still featured in a positive television ad that ran in the weeks before the election and overlapped with Hurricane Sandy.

The Committee for Our Children’s Future, an issues-advocacy group established by a group of Christie’s college friends, spent $1.8 million airing the spot across the state from Oct. 15 to the middle of last week, spokesman Brian Jones said.

Ah, but it wasn’t just the $1.8 million at the end of the election he wasn’t running in:

That brings the committee’s total spending on pro-Christie spots to $7.8 million since the group formed in September 2011. As a 501(c)(4) organization, the committee does not have to disclose its donors.

$7.8 million spent to puff up Chris Christie. And while that group doesn’t disclose its donors, we do know that the taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for Christie’s nationwide tour leading up to the Presidential election.  But that’s not all, because this latest group follows Reform Jersey Now, which raised over $600K to push Christie’s Agenda. And then there was the Center for a Better New Jersey, which helped fund the Christie and Republican redistricting efforts. That doesn’t even count the spending from the groups pushing his voucher and charter efforts.  So the next time the Governor complains about all those big bad groups spending all kinds of money against him, someone should start playing the world’s smallest violin.

One More Reason to Support Marie Corfield

If you’re a frequent reader of Blue Jersey, you know that we are proactively supporting Marie Corfield’s campaign to replace Donna Simon in the New Jersey General Assembly. Although Marie’s emergence as a political candidate stems from her passion to educate our children, she’s not a one issue candidate. You can check out her web site to see that she supports the middle class, civil rights for all, and the environment.

Her opponent, on the other hand, is a consistent mouthpiece for the destructive policies of the Tea Party.

Yesterday, the New Jersey General Assembly voted on a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the egregious Citizens United decision that equates corporations with people when it comes to free speech. As a consequence of that decision, the democratic process has been hijacked by such unelected powers as the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and perhaps several more billionaires who are beyond our radar screens.

One of the people who voted against this resolution was Assemblywoman Donna Simon. So Simon does agree that corporations are people and that extremist robber barons can pour unlimited dollars into campaigns without any accountability. This is hardly consistent with the tenets that our Founding Fathers promulgated.

So if you have “undecided” friends or colleagues who are voters in the 16th Legislative District, ask them if they think corporations are people. And let them know who answers that question in the affirmative.

Franklin Twp. passes first anti-Citizens United Resolution in NJ

promoted by Rosi

This past Tuesday, April 10th the Franklin Township Council in Somerset County, NJ became the first municipality in the State of New Jersey to pass an official Resolution supporting a Call for a Constitutional Amendment Overturning the “Citizens United Decision.”  Inspired by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) call for a national movement to pass a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision and ending corporate personhood I decided to take action myself and contact the nine members of my local Town Council (including the Mayor) asking them to pass a Resolution of this kind.  

Several weeks after I requested that they vote and pass this Resolution they finally did so successfully at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting with the 8 Democratic members of the Town Council voting in favor of the Resolution and our Republican Mayor (Brian Levine) being the lone no vote.  I’m proud of my town for passing this Resolution and hopefully more towns and cities in NJ pass similar resolutions.  It would also be ideal for the New Jersey Legislature to pass an official promoted by Rosi

Resolution calling for the overturning of the Citizens United decision which would send a strong message that the people of New Jersey do not support unlimited, anonymous money in our political system from corporations and the super-wealthy.  

To learn more about the national efforts under way by Senator Sanders visit his website:here.  

Also, visit here.

Want to see the resolution? It’s below the fold.

Blue Jersey Focus – Senator Barbara Buono

What are the qualities we should look for in our elected leaders? Certainly intelligence, compassion, the ability to deal with setbacks, and a sense of fairness top that list.

One of our legislators who scores high marks in all those categories is Senator Barbara Buono. I spoke with her today on a number of issues including the power of the governor, the art of compromise, the level of civil discourse in the state, the reaction to unlimited funding of elections by corporations, the environment, ways to reinstate the millionaire’s tax, and the prognosis for our urban areas, specifically Camden – the home of the South Jersey Democratic bosses. We also talked briefly about the possibility of the Senator moving down the hall in the State House to the Governor’s office in 2013.

Barbara Buono is the antithesis of the persona that Chris Christie presents to the public.  She cares about the middle class and poor. She cares about the environment. She advocates for those groups that don’t have expensive lobbyists on State Street. Even when she vehemently disagrees with her colleagues, she respects them as people and she respects their office, and doesn’t use derogatory terms like “idiot” or “jerk.”

Whether or not she runs for governor next year, Senator Buono reflects a side of New Jersey that puts our state in a positive light. That’s the face of New Jersey that I’d like to see become the norm.