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The Buying of America

The battle for Arizona and Wisconsin: the Koch Brothers connection

By Rodolfo F. Acu??a
Published on LatinoLA: February 27, 2011


The Buying of America


A reader responded to my previous article on the Arizona and Wisconsin connection that '"the Koch brothers are just the tip of the iceberg"-- a statement with which I totally agree.

The Phoenix resident predicted that the corporate takeover of the state and federal governments had just begun. What would make this possible was "the Citizens United Supreme Court decision [that] will only make money laundering for public office worse, since there is no accountability measure to provide transparency about who is contributing to Tea Party or other candidates."

The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010) held that the First Amendment requires that "Congress shall make no law 'abridging the freedom of speech," and that a "prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech." According to the the Court "a PAC [political action committee] is a separate association from the corporation." Because speech is fundamental to democracy, the regulation on spending infringes on political speech.

In essence, Citizens United gives corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign ads--no matter how outrageous the ads are. The case struck down campaign reform and a provision in the law that prohibited all corporations and unions from contributing as much money as they wanted to elections. The outcome is that rich are protected by the First Amendment and have the right to buy elections.

President Obama criticized the decision saying that it "gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates."

Even more outrageous, the decision shields rich contributors by giving them anonymity. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they have a license to place an unlimited number of ads, and by forming "501(c) (4)s" nonprofits the identity of the donors is hidden.

In Arizona, David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch set the template which is being followed in Wisconsin. They funded extremist groups and spread hate through lies and half truths allowing them to manipulate elections.

Given these facts, it is hard not to recognize a conspiracy between the Kochs and the five Supreme Court Justices that formed the majority in Citizens United.

For example, on January 30-31, 2011 the Koch's held a secretive retreat in Palm Springs, Ca. for billionaires. Featured speakers at past billionaire juntas were Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the five majority justices in Citizens United. Thomas's wife is the founder and president of Liberty Central, a conservative political advocacy group with ties to the Tea Party and the infamous Kochs.

The corporate assault on democracy began as far back as 1868 with the passage of the "due process clause" in the 14th Amendment. Its intent was to protect the rights of African-Americans by protecting them from the southern states that wanted to keep them in a de facto state of slavery. Instead, of enforcing the amendment and giving blacks equal protection pro-business justices expanded the 14th amendment to shield corporations from state and federal regulation. They raised the legal fiction that corporations were persons and thus a protected class.

Since the 1980s corporations, dominated by the billionaire class, have become more proactive in politics. Emboldened by William E. Simon's ghost written A Time for Truth (1978), the right wing has founded a bevy of tax free non-profits to fund rightwing causes.

As of 2007 there were 2.7 MILLION millionaires and 371 billionaires in the United States out of a population of 307 million Americans--less than one percent. The Koch brothers had only two votes but had a combined wealth of $41 billion dollars.

The golden opportunity for the Koch cabal came in Gore v. Bush (2000) that resolved the presidential election in favor of George W. Bush. The Court ruled that the Florida Supreme Court's method for recounting ballots violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The 5-4 decision was a political decision with Thomas and Scalia heading the majority.

Gore v. Bush made the Citizens United Case possible as Bush became president, and he proceeded to stack the Supreme Court as well as the lower federal courts with right wing ideologues. He nominated John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Court--both judicial conservatives with deep right-wing ties.

These two justices joined Scalia and Thomas in the passage of Citizens United which represented an extreme departure from previous case law.

In Arizona the billionaire club used the Tea Party, the Minutemen and the Nazis to spread fear, misinterpretation, and gross stereotypes. Like Professor Rudy Rosales has pointed out, "this attack [is] on working class people, Mexicanos and Latinos all over, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, women, gays, homosexuals, [and it] is possible because they do it piece by piece - first immigrants, then gays, then women, then African Americans."

Their goal is to destroy the liberal capitalist state.

Because of Citizens United in future elections voters will be unable to tell where the money is coming from. The 2006 election cost about $1 billion; the cost of the 2010 election was over $3 billion. It turned blue states red. The cost of the 2012 presidential campaign will dwarf these numbers. Everyone is up for sale.

Eric Drum in Mother Jones (March/April 2011) writes that "With unions declining, the Democratic Party turned to the only other source of money and influence available in large enough quantities to replace Big Labor: Big Business."

The question is, "Who will control the country?"

371 billionaires or 307 million VOTERS AND NON-VOTERS?

COMMENT:

From: Laurita Moore, 28 February 2011

Profesor Acu??a, thank you for once again writing about the truth in Arizona. As a college teacher and student advocate, it is, indeed, a nightmare. I settled in Arizona in 1971 because I felt safe here. I have not felt safe in Arizona since the passage of Prop 300, which I never thought would pass. I was wrong and matters have gotten steadily worse, as the public is baited with hatred and dishonesty. It has nothing to do with money. I wish there were enough DREAM Act college students to actually cost us something beyond insignificant. Educational levels in Arizona are among the lowest, exacerbated by a governor now known as GED Jan. The education levels of the people making these hateful laws are among the lowest and it appears that they do not want anyone to have more education than they or their children who represent a criminal element in our state. Where does one go when one no longer feels safe in America?

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