tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera September 20, 2015 8:00am-8:31am EDT
>> i'm ali velshi. your donations don't always go where you think they do. we're on the money, to expose a system where almost anything goes and even the candidates themselves can't control it. there are still 14 months to go before americans vote for their next president in november of 2016. but the television air waves in some key states are already so inundated with campaign commercials you would think the election is happening tomorrow. all through the 2016 election season al jazeera america is
teaming up with the center for public integrity. a nonpartisan nonprofit investigative organization in washington. together we're going to follow the obscene amounts of money being raised and spent on the campaign trail. republican candidates running in their party's presidential primaries have put out an estimated 11,000 tv ads in recent months. at the same time, democrat candidates in their presidential primaries produced an estimated 4,000 ads. again we're still months away, more than a year away from the election and months away from the 2016 primaries. these figures are the total number of tv ads paid for by candidates, special interest groups, and so-called super-paks super-pacs, short for superpolitical action committees. unlimited sums of money to promote a candidate for a political party.
that explains why 90% of the gop ads we're talking about were paid for by superpacs unlike the officially campaign, superpacs are not committed to contribute to or coordinate directly with either political parties or candidates. but critics charge there's a lot of indirect coordination between the superpacs and the campaigns. it is a phenomenon that has supercharged campaign finance forecasts for this upcoming election cycle. donors and others now expect an astonishing $5 billion will be spent on the 2016 presidential race that is double the amount spent in 2012. and when you follow the money, you see that superpacs have made this election the wild west and the candidate with the biggest weapon by his side is jeb bush. david schuster explains. >> as jurv jeb bush introduces
himself to the residents of iowa and new hampshire. >> over 200 new charter schools, the state was florida, the governor was jeb bush. proven conservative. real results. jeb. right to rise u.s.a. is responsible for the content of this message. >> reporter: but these ads are not from mr. bush's campaign. they are from right to rise u.s.a. a superpac that is supposed to operate separately and unde independently from the candidate. less than a quarter of the total the superpac has so far reported bringing in, $103 million. in the same time period the bush campaign itself reported only bringing in $11.4 million. why the difference? unlike a candidate's campaign superpacs can raise and spend
unlimited's of money. most of the presidential campaigns in both parties are also getting a boost from superpacs and so far the center for public integrity have said those pacs have bankrolled 90% of all political ads. the ruling called citizens united the justices ss s affirmed, independent political action committees these are the groups known as superpacs. relying on a superpac though does carry risk. donald trump was paying for all of his campaign efforts has repeatedly criticized mr. bush
saying the former florida governor is already beholden. >> when they give 5 million or 2 million to jeb they have him just like a puppet. >> never mind the political optics, there is if the superpac goes rogue, superpac and candidates are not supposed to coordinate with each other. in other words if jeb bush does not like what right to rise is doing or how they are spending money there is nothing he can do to stop it. >> the power of these superpacs spreads well beyond washington. daniel craig's strange connection to the word of >> saints and sinners. friends in holy places. >> this murder links the mafia and the church. >> tracking the mob from the dark shadows to the gates of the vatican. >> there's even a mobster who's managed to take the place of the priest. >> what happens when the church stands up to the mob?
we are talking about super pacts. almost anyone can start one or donate to one. the super pact can do anything it wants. i sat with michael beckle. a politics reporter at the center for republic integrity, a nonprofit investigative newsagency teaming up with al jazeera america to follow the money raised if spent during this election cycle. he has been following a strange
tail involving james bond and a cease and desist order from bernie sanders. . >> you are digging around and find a super pact involved with bernie sanders, how did you find it. >> america social united filed paperwork with the commission saying it was forming, and there was a contact address and name on that form. and when we went to the website we found another address and another form. one of these addresses is a mailbox in las vegas, and the other address is an office in a virtual office sweep in washington d.c. there's not employees there, there's not staff there, executive director maintaining a big office on peninsula avenue. >> it had a name at the time called ready for bernie sanders. . >> exactly. bernie sanders was a candidate
that said he didn't want super pact support. into there's nothing illegal about setting up a super pact meant to support a presidential candidate, even if that presidential candidate doesn't want anything to do with this. >> that's right, super pacts are part of the wild, wild west. pretty much anyone can go out and start them, you can spend the money on just about anything. forming a super pact is an easy process. you can file paperwork, form a website, raise money, and you are right to the races. >> the super pact is not part of campaign. >> there's something that says it's ready for burnie 2016, orbit on byrne jip, implications that there's one guy named bernie running for president. >> if you google bernie sanders, you might come across this. >> it would make sense if you were a donor to think i'm donating to something to do with
bernie sanders. >> exactly. a p.r. firm has been involved running a couple of press releases which included pictures of senator sanders, and those images ran right in times square, in new york city. we learnt that you or i or anyone could do something similar for as little as $399. the sanders campaign said that it thought some of these actions and activities were illegal, and that it should essentially seize and desist. that's a man, mr peterson, the founder of this organization, when we looked deeper into mr peterson's background, we found many legal and financial troubles, multiple eviction cases, multiple arrest warrants that are active in arizona, and two breaches of contract where his company has been ordered to
pay creditors nearly $200,000. as you are reaching this, and as stranger and stranger things are happening, you, all of a sudden discover that daniel craig, who i think of commonly as james bond, has donated money to cary peterson's super pact. >> movie reel: 007 reporting for duty. >> mr craig did, in fact, donate nearly $50,000 to american social group. what did mr craig know about mr cary lee peterson's background, was he aware of financial and legal problems in his past. >> did you give his people any sense that may be the super pacts were not working in tandem with bernie sanders. >> they would only say so much to us on the record. they wanted to leave themselves open to reconsidering if this was a good investment or if they would take other actions if they
find out the money is not spent as they intended it to be spent. . >> you spoke to kerry lee peterson. >> i have. to some extent he told me what happened in the past is not relevant. >> to be clear, this money that kerry lee petersen says he raised. he told us it's around $1 million, there's no rule as to how he spent this. it doesn't have to be spent in a direction to support the candidate. >> that's right, he can spend it on what he wants. >> on salary. >> on a salary. he could spend it on buying a new lamborghini, but what a lot of donors hope is that their money is spent on bona fide campaign activity. >> let me ask you to clarify this, a super-pact is not
supposed to coordinate with a campaign. at the same time bernie sanders doesn't want the super-pact. but under the law he doesn't have rights from preventing them from acting on his behalf. >> that's right, he can get on the soapbox and say i don't want a super-pact. some will listen to that. some aren't. >> i don't want a super-pact, i don't want the money from the billionaires, that's the way to run the campaign. >> senator sanders is hamstrung, he can't stop anyone going out to stop the groups. >> have you drawn conclusions from this about whether there are flaws or connections to the citizens united ruling. >> i think this is a cautionary tail in the super-pact world. donors need to do the research and be aware that when they visit a website or hear about a group, that they might have more going on than meets the eye,
pulling back the veil and saying look at what is really going on here. >> this week kerry lee peterson super-pact filed the election reports, covering january through june of this year, seven weeks after the filing deadline. kerry lee peterson joins me on the phone. mr peterson, thank you for joining me. you heard the story we ran. senator bernie sanders's campaign says some of the activities of your super-pact are illegal and sent you a seize and desist order. have you complied? >> me and bernie sanders's counsel, we have been in communication since the letter was issued. this is probably back in the month of june, and, yes, compliance has been met due to the fact that, you know, we are not in the business to break any rules. that's definitely not what i'm here to do.
we are here for the political action committee, supporting the cause of the movement of bernie sanders getting closer to the white house, and when we got the letter, it was obviously pertinent. it was an important situation. >> beckel, the reporter we talked to discovered you had legal and financial troubles, evictions, arrest warrants. you said it is not relevant to what you are doing right now. >> well, we are not going to talk about when i got a traffic ticket 10 years ago, we are not going to talk about business deals i did with a buddy that d go as planned. we are not going to talk about, you know, business tracts that, you know, couldn't go as planned. we are here to talk about the political committee, a lot of
references, they were consistent, and as i mentioned in an interview with an independent journalist last week, i told him that his endeavour was brilliant, but obviously the antics of journ journalism... >> mr peterson, this is your option, this is your chance to say whatever beckle said that you think was inaccurate. tell me now. do you have arrest warrants? >> i'll give you the quote that i told the journalist. it was half brilliance, half bullshit. that was the quote. >> any specifics. >> and the arrest warrants, things like that - listen, listen, i work as a registered lobbyist on the hill. you know, i do diplomatic affairs. i was involved in political action committees, and i set aside a lot of what i do for
humanity, it's something that was important for america. talking about a traffic ticket 10 years ago or mistaken identity or that i don't have a common last name. it's irrelevant to the discussion at hand. >> should donors, including daniel craig and others, be aware that they should donate to someone that may have legal reasons for it but has legal and financial allegations against them. >> i don't have legal or financial allegations again me personally. >> there's no least warrant for you. >> no. let's talk about.... >> no judgments against you. >> let's talk about daniel craig. >> okay. >> daniel craig, he vetted me out, did the due diligence probably a month or so prior to making the donation, and signing a contributor's agreement, and
we did everything, following the proper chain of demands, and the donation was made. i spoke with his representatives directly, multiple phone calls. this was not something that i post them. they post me. it came through mutual associates. not something for the pack to go out and audit high profile people, as the article portrayed. >> beckle said in the interview that we just heard, he told me that you told him you raised close to a million. we looked at your fec filing this week. accounts for been a fifth, and $90,000 - you had to give back $50,000, someone that donated it was not eligible. what's the discrepancy between the $50,000, $90,000 and the million you told me about.
>> the gights are definition of what you constitute in your hands. you have cash donations, in-kind donations and pledges. they are different. they want to see a few things happen. >> got it. now, inside contributions like what we are doing, they gave us an opportunity, come in, get a disappoint, venue, get a discount on the flies and campaign materials. we had people that were a little more money. we returned them, because they didn't meet the standards of regulations of what we can accept. >> i'm clear on this now. >> when you get impatient for mr beckle, obviously you are not on the stairway, for instance. >> understood. kerry lee peterson, thank you for joining us to give us your side of the story.
after watching all of this you might think the super-pact system is broken and needs to be fix. coming up is a man who sees no trouble with it at all. weeks, sometimes months. >> and the e.u. struggles to cope... >> we don't know, they stop us here. >> what's being done while lives hang in the balance? >> we need help now.
>> okay we are continuing this conversation about campaign finance, superpacs and the obscene amounts much money being raised and spent already in this election cycle. dan backer is the lead attorney for db capital strategies where he focuses on campaign strategy law. last year he argued a case before the u.s. supreme court. he called on the justices to
eliminate the ceiling on what wealthy individuals can donate to federal candidates parties and political action committees in a single two year election cycle. he joins me from washington, dan thank you so much for joining us. i'm going to allow you to make your case for why money spent in the political system is a good thing. but the examples we have just cited, i didn't really think like we were talking about these nuts on tv but the example of the superpac associated with bernie sanders that bernie sanders doesn't want associated with it, is that not the clearest example of where this has gone wrong? >> no, actually it's not. i think and i think most people involved on my side of the aisle would say, the right of individuals to engage with one another to associate with one another and to start their own organizations free of the candidates free of the parties tree of pri
political insiders, are a good thing. carrie peterson, may or may not be a good example, doesn't look like it, but there are remedies for it. i heard about mr. mr. shuster and mr. beckel talk about buying lamborghinis. you can't buy a lamborghini. tyler harbor in virginia in going to jail. had you same pate also in virginia going to jail. couple of years ago, had you jesse jackson junior sitting congressman for embezzling campaign funds go to jail. someone who did the campaign finance work for moat o most of the california democratic party go to jail. the police are doing their jobs and while carrie lee peterson may have somehow gotten $50,000
from james bond has a lot more to do with the fact that daniel craig is throwing around political contributions like it's a fashion accessory and not caring where his money goes. >> i know that the securities and exchange commission last nowhere near the teeth of the authority to do anything about this. are we in a situation where we have a regulatory body who can't possibly police this down? >> their remedies are civil enforcement. the department of justice on the other hand is actively engaged in political prosecutions where they have these problems. they have a guilty plea they are sending tyler harbor and sam pate to jail. the department of justice is doing its job investigating acts in the political finance system. and providing a tremendous
amounts of data that forms the basis of these complaints. >> what should a guy like me do if i want to support a candidate, to the extent that i want to donate more money than the federal limits are on donating to a candidate? how do i determine what's legitimate and what's not? >> well, if you've already maxed out to the candidate let's say for both elections and you're looking to do that something more the first thing you can look to do is a simple google search, who's out there supporting the candidate of your choice. let's say you support bernie is a bad choice, if anybody googles bernie sanders, they would get bernie sanders doesn't like superpacs and doesn't want their money. hopefully q could hem james bond out. it's a bad joke i'm a lawyer
it's the best i can do. let's say johnson, the libertarian candidate in 2012, if i don't get in trouble for naming any real candidate. you would google gary johnson, you would find their superpac, their website saying they are supporting gary johnson, they are not the authorized committee, frankly at the level of $50,000 i would have thought that a little due diligence would be have been appropriate here. carrie peterson did not have reports on file. if i had been in that position i would say let's find somebody else, there's other ways to look at it. who are the people involved, what are their political pedigrees or professional pedigrees? i don't believe in the political universe always the better people to run on superpacs couple but it doesn't mean that
there are not plenty of individuals out there who are trying to start their efforts free from the vendor universe who like to say, i like bernie or hillary or rand paul. >> i think that was what you were discussing with the supreme court. dan packer, thank you for joining us, that is our show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. >> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the soundbites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is. >> every saturday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping... inspiring... entertaining. no topic off limits. >> 'cause i'm like, "dad, there are hookers in this house". >> exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else.
>> these are very vivid, human stories. >> if you have an agenda with people, you sometimes don't see the truth. >> "talk to al jazeera". saturday, 6:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> this week on talk to al jazeera - the once high powered capitalist in russia turned human rights activist - bill browder. >> i had more than $1 billion, which was a huge amount of money-- in any circumstance, but certainly back then, and in russia. >> the financier had a spectacular rise with his investments quadrupling - but then browder began calling attention to corruption and crossed the wrong people. >> i was locked up overnight. and then i was deported the next day and declared a threat to national security, never to be allowed back into russia again. at that point it became obvious