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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  June 27, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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06/27/12 06/27/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> the united states supreme court has just told the american people that the facts do not matter when it comes to protecting montana and the country from corruption of corporate money in our democracy. >> the supreme court strikes down a century-old montana law banning corporate campaign spending. to the dismay of many democratic and republican lawmakers. we will speak with john bonifaz of free speech for people.
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we look at dark money, the final frontier of unlimited political money. >> instead of corporations illegally giving money to nixon's reelection, we have corporations legally pouring money into the 2012 effort whether it is through the chamber of commerce or any number of anonymous front groups run out of ups boxes here in the d.c. area. >> carta of our conversation with andy kroll and monika bauerlein of mother jones. with wildfires spreading in colorado and record rainfall in florida, the obama administration moves closer to approving construction of the southern section of the keystone xl pipeline. we speak with bill mckibben, founder of >> climatologists 22 years ago were saying this is to look forward to. the basic physical property is the warm air holds more water vapor than cold. you can get stronger storms. >> all of that and more coming
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up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a federal appeals court has upheld the environmental protection agency's effort to use the clean air act to regulate carbon emissions from the country's largest polluters. an industry group called the coalition for responsible regulation had filed lawsuits challenging the dea's effort to regulate carbon emissions from vehicles and industrial pollution from your power plants. the suits questioned the epa's guiding basis that greenhouse gases can "reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." the three-judge panel also upheld the obama administration's inaugural car and fuel economy standards, which aims to cut new car pollution in half and double fuel efficiency by 2025. in a statement, the group
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earthjustice said -- the obama administration has granted transcanada permission to build part of the southern portion of the keystone xl pipeline would carry oil from the alberta tar sands through texas. transcanada said tuesday it was still awaiting permits from two other districts of the army corps of engineers, but hoped to begin construction on the pipeline later this summer. president obama had rejected initial plans for the keystone xl pipeline earlier this year, but later pledged to fast-track approval of the southern portion stretching from oklahoma to the gulf coast. on tuesday, activists delivered well over 100,000 signatures calling on the epa head lisa jackson to stop the pipeline's approval. activists have also pledged a
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series of nonviolent direct actions against the project this summer, saying the pipeline would poison local communities and destroy the environment. we will have more on the keystone xl pipeline later in the broadcast. at least five people have been killed in the u.s. drone strike in the pakistani region of north waziristan. unmannned officials say the victims were militants, but the obama administration's criteria are so expensive that they could include any adult male and a war zone unless proven otherwise after death. more than 100 people were killed in syria on tuesday as president bashar al-assad or in the country is in the midst of an all-out war. the syrian observatory for human rights said at least 68 civilians, 41 soldiers, and seven rebel fighters were killed in nationwide violence. al-assad meanwhile issued his warning while meeting with new cabinet members.
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>> as i sent it in my speech in parliament, we're living in a state of real war from all angles. when we live in such a situation, all policies, all sides, all sectors need to be directed as winning this war. >> the top united nations investigator for syria is warning human rights violations by both sides of the syrian conflict are increasing. and in your report, he said both government forces and rebels have committed extrajudicial killings and torture, and that sectarian killings are now becoming a growing reality. the fighting is quickly descending on the capital damascus. on tuesday, rebels broke into a pro-government syria television station near damascus, killing
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three people. tensions are also on the rise with syria's neighbor turkey following syria's downing of a turkish fighter jet. on tuesday, the turkish prime minister acknowledged the airplane had briefly violated syrian airspace, but call the shooting a hostile and heinous attack. turkey says the plane entered syrian airspace by mistake, but there's been speculation it may have been on a spying mission. in brussels to monitor secretary-general said the alliance fully supports turkey in its standoff with syria. >> reconsider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms. it is another example of the syrian authority's disregard for the national norms, peace, and security and human life. >> in sudan, protests against austerity measures and
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president al bashir are continuing amidst an ongoing crackdown by government forces. protests against government austerity and rising food prices began earlier this month with student demonstrations at khartoum university, but of since spread across the country and led to calls for an end to of a share plus 23-year raisinr. in a report tuesday, human rights said sudan is using a protest as an excuse to crack down on dissent by arresting scores of protesters, journalists and opposition members. senate leaders say they have reached a bi-partisan deal to avoid a doubling of low-interest rates on federally subsidized student loans. the rates were reduced to 3.4% in 2007, but were set to double for new loans on july 1st unless congress intervenes. under the agreement, federally subsidized student loan rates would stay at 3.4% for another
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year, with funding coming from increased premiums on federal pension insurance. in a concession to republicans, part-time students would see limits on the number of years they can receive subsidized loans. two federal lawmakers held onto their seats tuesday in primary votes. sixth term republican senator orrin hatch fended off the tea party challenger in utah to seek reelection in november. in new york, 22-year or term democratic congressmember charles rangel defeated his challengers to seek another term. new york attorney general eric schneiderman has launched an investigation into donations made to tax-exempt groups including the u.s. chamber of commerce that may have been illegally funneled into lobbying and political efforts. unlike so-called super pacs, tax-exempt groups do not need to disclose their donors despite
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heavy involvement in political campaigns. on tuesday, schneiderman issued a subpoena to executives at a chamber of commerce link foundation that may have illegally funneled millions of dollars for the chamber's political and lobbying activities. the group marks the first in years to examine tax-exempt groups which are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars this election year on advertisements attacking political candidates. colorados devastating wildfire crew worst tuesday as record heat continue to hamper efforts to contain the blaze. another 32,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes as the fire spread. it is said to be the worst wildfire in state history in colorado. colorado springs fire chief said the dry weather conditions are worse than he has ever witnessed. >> in the 26 years i've been here, this is probably the worst conditions i have seen. very dry, no moisture for a long
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time. the 100-degree temperatures are record tempters for the colorado springs area. it is the perfect storm to make this a bad fire. >> the city of stockton, california is set to become the largest city in the u.s. to file for bankruptcy. on tuesday, stockton officials said talks with creditors have broken down at the end of a three-month deadline for a deal to be reached. stockton has a long-term debt of $700 million and has already laid off many workers, including one quarter of its police force. city attorneys could file for chapter 9 protection as early as today. new figures show 130 members of congress have financial ties to hundreds of millions of dollars in stock in companies lobbying on measures that came before their committees. according to "washington post," the lawmakers traded up to $218
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million in 323 companies registered to lobby on bills that came before congress. a separate investigative report from "washington post," shows 34 members of congress made major changes to their financial holdings after speaking with top administration officials during the peak of the financial crisis. in january 2008, then house minority leader john boehner moved up to $100,000 from a mutual fund into a safer investment the day before the bush administration unveiled a $150 million stimulus package. the university of virginia has reinstated ousted president teresa sullivan less than three weeks after forcing her to step down. on monday, the governing board reversed its opposition to sullivan following a lengthy uproar from students and faculty. sullivan's firing had been seen as an attack on academic freedom, with corporate tied
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board members leading the push for her removal. sullivan drew opposition from the board and the school's rector, helen dragas, over her apparent reservations about cutting programs budgets and her addresses on consensus building versus imposing top-down change. but her firing sparked outrage from students and faculty, leading to protests, walkouts, and threats of resignations. the reversal of her ouster has been called an unprecedented development in higher education. the uproar has forced the resignation of the school's vice rector, mark kington, who played a key role in sullivan's ouster. rector vargas is also facing calls to step down, but she insists she will remain in her post. the filmmaker, journalist, and essayist nora ephron has died at the age of 71. the rector of a number of successful romantic comedies including "when harry met sally," a from was seen as a pioneer for women in film.
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those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. and a case billed as citizens united to, the u.s. supreme court has struck down a montana law that limits corporate political spending. montana was sued when it tried to enforce a century-old ban on corporate spending and state and local political campaigns in the wake of the 2010 citizens united ruling. american tradition partnership, a conservative non-profit that fights so-called environmental extremism, argue the state's ban violates the 2010 rulings that allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts in federal elections. the supreme court agreed on monday. in a divided 5 to 4 ruling, it blocked montana's law. dissenting justice stephen breyer challenged the decision, writing --
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after the ruling, montana's governor brian schweitzer, a democrat, and lt. governor john bollinger, a republican, released a video response to the ruling . >> i am a republican. republicans and democrats do not always agree on policy matters, but there's one thing we do agree on and that is corporate money should not influence the outcome of an election. >> i am the governor of montana and a democrat. the united states supreme court has just told the american people that the facts do not matter when it comes to protecting montana and the country from corruption of corporate money in our democracy. here in montana, we have a proud, 100-year history of keeping corporate money out of our elections. corporations are not people and they should not control our government.
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montana stood up for democracy here at home and behalf of america by fighting to keep our ban on corporate campaign spending. the united states supreme court blocked our state law because they said corporations are people. i will believe that when texas executes one critic >> the video message he went on to support an amendment the constitution in order to overturn citizens united. for more on the montana decision, we're joined by john bonifaz, co-founder and director of free speech for people and the legal director of voter action. can you talk about the supreme court decision that struck down a century-old campaign finance law of montana? >> this was a radical action by five justices of the united states supreme court, as radical as our action was two and half years ago when they issued the citizens united ruling, sweeping away a century of president that
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barred corporate money in elections. montana had a loss in 1912 -- lock in 1912 designed to deal with the threat of corruption in montana from copper kings controlling the politics and the government of montana. for more than a century, montana had this experience of barring corporate money in elections. the u.s. supreme court has said that the state of montana that the facts do not matter. they will not listen to the history of montana and will not look at the history of the past two and half years of unlimited corporate money coming into our state and around the nation. this is a direct threat to our democracy. these justices are countering with the framers intended with the constitution and what our democracy is supposed to be about, and the man's a constitutional amendment to overturn the supreme court and make clear that we the people, not with the corporations, rule
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in america. >> we just heard the montana governor supporting a constitutional amendment. >> this is a growing and significant movement. on the day of the citizens united ruling, we of free speech for people and others called for this amendment to overrule the citizens united and make clear that people, not corporations, shall govern in america. since that time, we've seen a growing mobilization across the country of people calling for an amendment to reclaim our democracy. four states are on record. they're calling for an amendment. other states are likely to join. montana is putting on the ballot a ballot initiative for the voters to cast their voices on the statewide ballot in november for an imminent. hundreds of municipalities across the country have called for an amendment. over 1000 business leaders have join that call. there are some doesn't amendment
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bills pending in the u.s. congress calling for an amendment with hearings to be held before the u.s. senate judiciary committee this july. this movement is about making clear it is people, not corporations, that shall govern in america. people all across the country are standing up to defend our democracy. >> can you explain exactly what the supreme court ruled this week, john bonifaz? >> it is extraordinary. they decided not even to take the montana case. the court summarily reversed the state supreme court ruling in montana that had upheld the montana corrupt practices act. summary reversal is a legal term the court uses for matters that do not even deserve a hearing on the merits. and yet we had new facts that have been presented to the court that they did not have in citizens united. it is important to remember these five justices took the citizens united case from what
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was a rather technical question around the use of a video and whether or not it complied with the law, the bipartisan reform act, and transform that case into a broader question where the facts were not present as to whether or not a century of president should be overturned dealing with corporate money and elections. what we have now is the and the state supreme court refuses to hear the facts, it refuses to hear this case on its merit despite 23 states pleading to the court that they do so. now we will see the unlimited kind of corporate spending in our elections this november that so threatens our democracy. we have already begun to see that this cycle and sought in the 2010 cycle as well. >> i want to play a comment from "wall street journal" editorial- page responding to the high court's decision. >> and what the court said was, did you read citizens united?
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it says, it is the law of the land, gentlemen, so follow it. it was assistant, short, sweet rebuke of the supreme court. why this was interesting politically is because a lot of the liberal justices had wanted the supreme court to hear, take formally this case and rehear it as an opportunity to overturn citizens united, or at least modify it. the supreme court justices, the five of them, who were the majority of citizens united basically said, no, we're not of a mind to rehear this. >> he is to train the course decision as a victory for supporters of citizens united, but some said the court's refusal to hear the case helped avoid a chance to strengthen citizen's united under chief justice roberts. your response, john bonifaz?
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>> i think it is clear what these justices are engaged in. this is a sharply divided court and remained sharply divided in refusing to hear the montana case. the fact is, justice stevens in his dissent in citizens united, stated the citizens united ruling was a radical departure from settled first amendment principles. we know the framers never intended for corporations to have the rights of people under the constitution. james madison spoke of corporations as a necessary evil subject to proper limitations and guard. thomas jervis and said he hoped to crash in his birth the aristocracy of money and corporations. we have recognized for more than a century that corporations have no role and our election so that radical action by these five justices who once again refused to hear the fax, now telling
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montana there century-old law should no longer be enforced. >> john bonifaz, where you see this all going at this point? interestingly, conservatives who often supports states' rights are cheering this decision that overturned this 100-year-old law in montana, that democrats and republicans alike are so proud of. >> i think we face a crisis in our democracy. this is a moment where people across this nation are going to continue to rise up across the political spectrum and make clear it is a government of and for the people that we will defend. we did a polling that shows across the board support for a constitutional amendment to overturn this ruling and to make clear people, not corporations, shall govern america.
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68% of republican support that idea, higher for democrats and independents, in the 80% range. the bottom line is, people understand the government is not to be of and for corporations. groups across this country and individual citizens across the country, there is a call for demanding our democracy back. we're having a conversation live thursday night at 8:00 p.m. with montana attorney general and people can join us on twitter. you can find out more on our twitter page to join the conversation. at the end of the day, we will demand a constitutional amendment like we have faced these moments in history before. 27 times before in the nation's history we have amended the constitution, and this is a moment we will do so again. >> john bonifaz, thank you for
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joining us, co-founder and director of free speech for people. speaking of supreme court decisions, to an end thursday when we will air a special one hour live broadcast at 10:00 eastern standard time covering the u.s. supreme court's landmark decision on president obama is health care law. it is expected to be handed down just after 10:00 eastern standard time. we will be on-line at and any radio or tv station is welcome to broadcast our live story. the question is, " -- this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. when we come back, dark money. ♪ [music break] ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the special on thursday morning is the supreme court hands down its decision on health care, will be at 10:00 a.m. eastern standard time but we turn now to dark money, hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by
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outside groups are helping make the 20 top presidential race the most expensive race in history. experts predict spending will top a staggering $11 billion. one of the central figures in the right-wing movement to deregulate campaign finance and helped usher in super pacs has been attorney james bopp, a legal advisor to citizens united leading up to their victory the supreme court. in this video posted online, he defends citizen united and speech -- a speech grounds but listen carefully because there is some background noise. >> to be able to speak out and give their point of view on who they think should be elected to public office. of course, it is most important [inaudible] certain issues or public policy, governmental action in the
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candidates, which ever side of the aisle they may be on. [inaudible] that means they have the same free will to speakout as everyone has. >> conservative attorney, james bopp, features prominently in a new cover story in mother jones magazine called, "follow the dark money." lastly juan gonzalez and i spoke to the authors article published articles author andy kroll and monika bauerlein. >> james bopp is one of the main characters. he is a cool, calm, very soft- spoken attorney who lives in indiana who over the past 20 years or so has just demolished
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hundreds of campaign finance laws but the state and federal level. he has done it in a very methodical way, a very subtle or quiet way. there's not much fanfare. he did not go on to a think tank or white shoe law firm. the thing i really focus on in the piece about james bopp, he did not decide one day he was gone to start toppling laws governing money and politics, spending restrictions, disclosure laws, etc. what he did was sort of hitch his wagon to the anti-abortion movement. he was the counsel for the national right to life organization, represented the state chapters. essentially, used the culture wars, use the anti-abortion movement, more recently the anti same-sex marriage movement basically as a vehicle to go around the country and challenge the legality of rules about
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money and politics. he has been quite successful, even more so when john roberts and samuel alito joined the u.s. supreme court, essentially paving the way for citizens united decision and, frankly, another big decision before that, which was the wisconsin right to life vs. fcc decision that was something brought by james bopp. he has sort of pioneered this strategy and it has been incredibly effective. he is a large part of why we are in this political environment we have now. >> further in your article, you said you believe all of this deregulation of campaign financing is a direct outgrowth of the culture wars. could you explain that? >> yes, i mean, the culture wars have -- obviously, they've been chugging along for decades now. it is an incredibly divisive. it is a reason why we have come
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in know, massive conservative movement and yet people in the middle of the country who seemingly vote against their own economic interests, as tom frank has written, for instance, in the past. james bopp just recognized he could go about tackling and taking down campaign finance regulations and loosing this torrent of money in our politics, and he could do is sort of under the guise of national right to life or the national organization for marriage, which is virulently anti-gay marriage. he can do that and people would not necessarily pick up on it as much -- until they have now, because he has been so successful. but he was very subtle about it. he knew the culture wars were not just about the issues, like guns or gay marriage or abortion, but that underlying all of these issues is money, and it is money in politics. he realized -- i >> someone in
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my piece to this effect, he realized those culture war issues as well as every other issue -- money and politics underlies all of this policy. if you can deregulate money and politics, as he has, you can essentially buy the policy -- you have knocked down the laws governing how much money can come into our system. and anything does get the policy outcomes that you want whether it is on gun rights, whether it is on tax policy, what ever. and this is sort of the genius of jim bopp, if you will. >> monika bauerlein, your devoting this issue. explain this concept, the term of mother jones has coined "dark money." >> it is an astronomical
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metaphor, of course. we have dark matter in the universe where the universe of politics is full of these visible celestial bodies -- politicians and campaigns and traditional pacs and talking heads and surrogates and pundits and so forth, but then flowing around them is this dark matter, this money that we don't know exactly -- as, in fact, none other senator john mccain has said we don't know where it is coming from or what it is trying to buy or where it is going, and it exerts this incredibly powerful force on the movements of all the things that we see. >> what about the role of the press? especially the commercial media, in shedding light on this dark money? obviously, a lot of the money that's being raised ends up going to paid advertising on television and radio and newspapers. so there is a self interest problem here for the press, in terms of unmasking or
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campaigning against this dark money. >> it is an influx of money for broadcasters, and to some extent, print media. you know, surely they all need it. it is also true that it's really hard to follow for reporters. it's not because it's dark money, it's just not disclose itself, does not advertise itself and does not often hold press conferences. the kind of work andy has to do of identifying the source behind a tv ad that's in heavy rotation in milwaukee, wisconsin, and saying this is being paid for by a p.o. box that gets its money from another p.o. box in suburban virginia that gets its money from another p.o. box in texas, and behind that last p.o. box are three corporations that are really underwritten by the same individual. that kind of thing is very hard to do and most news
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organizations at this point don't have the bandwidth or the reporting power to go after it, which is why, up until now, we had laws requiring disclosure and requiring these entities themselves to tell citizens what they're up to. and that's all gone, or mostly gone, as a result of the citizens united decision. >> let's stick with the wisconsin recall election earlier this month, the most expensive in the state's history with more than $63 million spent. governor walker, who survived the recall, outspent milwaukee mayor tom barrett close to eight to one. i want to turn to an ad that was bankrolled by this secretive virginia-based organization called the coalition for american values. >> i didn't vote for governor walker. >> i did not vote for scott walker, but i definitely against the recall. >> wisconsin isn't the right way. >> there's a right way and wrong way and i think this is a wrong way.
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>> let him serve it out. >> living in a democracy, yet to have faith in who the people elect. >> i didn't vote for scott walker, but i'm against the recall. >> this is an ingenious ad because i'm sure they did some kind of focus groups or polling, and saw that walker was not popular in wisconsin. but they realized they could raise the issue of the recall being undemocratic. there was an election, someone was elected, let him serve out his time. andy kroll, talk about who it was that bankrolled this. >> i wish i could tell you exactly who it was, because i -- but i still don't know. the group behind it was called the coalition of american values, which it does not really give more generic than i guess americans for a better america. so this and comes out. as you mentioned, it really does have a potent message. in retrospect, or in hindsight,
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we know now it was incredibly potent because exit polls showed a lot of the people who voted for walker were really voting on discontent over the recall itself. i start digging into this group and find that their address in milwaukee is a mailbox, essentially, and that their office -- they have another office in virginia, and that is a ups store box. there is no home address or home office. the treasurer, as far as i could tell -- we could never actually pin this down -- was a gentleman named brent downs, who appeared to be a recent graduate of the university in milwaukee. he did not answer phone calls or reply to emails. what brought them to my attention was not only were they running this ad and spending six figures on this at around the state, they had not filed a single report with the state
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disclosing their spending. i mean, it is one thing to just funnel money through an incorporation -- in a corporate entity in virginia into milwaukee, into wisconsin, and not tell us where their money came from -- they can legally do that with the weird way the campaign finance law works in wisconsin pose citizens united, but we also had no idea what they were spending. i raise this with the elections watchdog in wisconsin. they had not even filed a report on their spending, as required. this is what brought them to my attention before the election. they said they were going to fix it. they still had not. the takeaway here is you have wisconsinites who are completely in the dark about a group called the coalition for american values, running ads in their state and telling them this recall is bad. not only do they not know who the donors are, based on our tattered campaign finance system, but they don't know how
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much this group is spending and where, as the group is required to disclose. it was a really, really disturbing glimpse into how dark money can come into a state election and put out this message, and surely have an impact on voters, and keep those same voters entirely in the dark about how much is being spent, whose spending it, and just to the heck is behind the group in this first place. >> andy kroll and monika bauerlein. we will continue our conversation after the break. ♪ [music break] ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue our discussion about dark money in politics with andy kroll, reporter for mother jones magazine, and co-editor monika bauerlein. juan gonzalez and i did this interview last week.
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the new cover stories colorado "follow the money." we talk to them and asked andy what a citizens have for fair elections given the vast amount of money. >> they cannot pin their hope on regulators or the cops on the beat, especially the federal level. the federal election commission, which is the main cop on the beat in washington, is hopelessly gridlocked and compromised and certainly has been taken hostage by three of its six commissioners are conservatives who frankly do not believe in enforcing the law as it stands today. so there reduced the fec to sort of a mumbling waste of time, if you will. the citizens want some kind of hope or need to look somewhere for, you know, information or inspiration, i mean, they have really got to look to the media outlets whether nationally or in
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their communities who are covering this issue, because that is where the information is coming from. there are a lot of good reporters out there on this beach were knocking on doors, going to ups stores, who are rifling through thousands of documents and trying to put names and faces and context to all this money coming into our elections. there are a lot of good people doing this, in know, and that is really where the public has to go because our watchdogs are -- they fallen down the job and are not really -- there's really no hope for them this election cycle, it seems. >> earlier this year, stephen colbert mocked the supreme court's citizens united ruling by announcing a planned presidential run in the south carolina primary. on his show he explained because he is barred from entering the race and simultaneously running a super political action committee, or super pac, he had
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given up control of his super pac to fellow talk show host jon stewart. >> trevor, if you will permit a >> colbert super pac transfer, activate. >> i am proud to announce i am forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for the president of the united states of south carolina. i'm doing it! >> that was stephen colbert. monika bauerlein, talk about what he is making fun of, and also name names here -- for example, karl rove's dark money outfit, a crossroads gps, obama's campaign chief counsel robert bauer filed a complaint with the fec arguing that crossroads gps now has an obligation to disclose its anonymous donors without delay.
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tell us specifically here who is in charge. >> what the supreme court did in citizens united was say that when you are not giving your money in a campaign directly to the candidate's committee, to their candidate's official campaign committee, then we cannot regulate you because you are free to speak your mind, and spending a ton of money is a form of speaking your mind. and the court also found that corporations are persons, just like you and me, with protected free speech rights so that corporations can also speak their minds and spend tons of money as they see fit. this distinction between doing this as what's called an outside expenditure and giving directly to a campaign is really critical. that's the only -- that is, if you will, the thin legal thread on which this deregulatory effort rests.
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in order to spend money as they see fit, these entities have to maintain the facade, all say, that there are entirely independent of campaigns and really have nothing to do directly with the candidates they support. and so that's why stephen colbert had to beam his super pac over to jon stewart. there are great lengths to being gone to damage to the committee that everybody knows is supporting mitt romney's candidacy is not directly connected to mitt romney, even though we all understand whom they're trying to be back. and so disclosure of who is giving money to these committees, how they're spending and, is very critical to citizens being able to evaluate them bit at the same time, nondisclosure is pretty critical to these organizations ability to do what they wanted to, which is influence elections quickly and without people catching on
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to them necessarily. >> the billionaire casino mogul and right-wing donor, sheldon adelson, has thrown his financial support behind republican frontrunner mitt romney. adelson and his wife have donated $10 million to the pro romney super pac, restore our future, in the past few days. adelson initially supported newt gingrich during the republican primary, giving a pro-gingrich super pac more than $20 million. adelson said he could wind up spending up to $100 billion to support republican candidates and the 2012 race. ironically, though, the donation by gingrich's former backer to romney came just as gingrich himself openly complained that u.s. elections are rigged in favor of the wealthy. gingrich was speaking in an appearance on msnbc. >> it's very hard to compete with the billionaire, if they get to spend all the money they want in the middle class candidates raising money and
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$2,500 units. i think the current system is rigged in favor of the wealthy. >> monika bauerlein, your response, given the fact gingrich stayed in the race so long because of the money donated to him by adelson? >> good for him. i mean, you might say even a stopped clock is right once a day. gingrich hits it on the head here. it is true that billionaires are underwriting political campaigns and are in a position to change our political fortunes in a way that regular people, at this point, really cannot. sheldon adelson is someone we know about because he is public about his giving, but there are a lot of people whom we cannot know about. they can conceal their giving in a 5 01c organization that then gives the money to a super pac, that then spends it and it is very hard to trace it back to
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who originally made the investment and what they expect as return on their investment, if you well. >> one of the coach is a president obama's re-election campaign has openly criticized the president's decision to accept super pac funds. "democracy now!" spoke to former u.s. senator russ feingold of wisconsin after his appointment as co-chair of the obama reelection campaign in february. >> i think is a big mistake to go down the road of unlimited, undisclosed corporate contributions. that is not who barack obama is and now with the democratic party should be. i think it doesn't help him get reelected. i think it delivers the democrats as well as the republicans to corporate power and corporate domination. that's why progressives united and i feel this way. >> that is russ feingold. it wasn't hours after he was chosen as one of the coach is a president of in his reelection campaign. andy kroll, talk about this. i mean, often the corporate
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media just expresses the range of debate between the republicans and democrats, and often that debate is almost nil. we are in election year. in may, a little more because president obama is so far behind in raising money that they may start to raise this issue, but they're going after the same money trough. they're picking the same pockets as the republicans. so it's unlikely the democrats are going to be raising this issue and going after the super pacs. can you please talk about that? >> the obama campaign is in a weird place right now. and their attempts to court big donors, for instance, for the priorities usa action super pac, which is a strictly pro-obama super pac, is in a very difficult spot. in 2008, president obama said, "no, we don't want any outside help. we don't want any loss of
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political groups spending money independently to help us or to attack george to be bush. we want complete control of our message." the irony is that the obama staffer in 2008 tasked with basically getting out -- getting those outside groups out of the picture is a man named bill burton, who is now running president obama's super pac. there's a little bit of irony there. the problem is, you have the citizens united decision, the speechnow dot or decision, directly paved the way for super pacs, and you have a political playing field in which republicans have no qualms with raising unlimited money, going to the sheldon adelsons and his other big donors and just raking in seven and a figure donations. but the democrats will tell you is weak and i unilaterally disarm, we cannot fight with one
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hand tied behind our backs are a couple of lines they use. we're going to use all the tools at our disposal to try to win this race. both of the presidential level and house races and senate races. i was just sitting down with a super pac fund raiser to the democrats yesterday. his line is, "we have got to play rather rules of the game as we have been." the president is when it is steamrolled by money from sheldon adelson, the coke brothers and their donor network, by money from the conservative movement anyway. he is going to get steamrolled and buried in money anyway, but we have to punch back against that money and we're going use every tool that we can. it's interesting note because you see, for instance, obama adviser david axelrod out talking to people and saying, "you know, we might think about
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a constitutional amendment to fix citizens united after we win this race. we're going to think about big- time campaign finance reform. we're really concerned about super pacs." they're saying one thing and in a way, really in a tough spot, but they're going to -- they're going to jump into this money race just as much as the other side because they think it is crucial and are dead in the water if they don't read >> that was andy kroll and monika bauerlein. the new cover story is "follow the dark money. we end today's show looking at corporate money in the informant as florida is lashed by drenching rains in the worst wildfires in colorado history continue to rage. we're joined by bill mckibben, founder of and author of "eaarth: making a life on a tough new planet." he's just back from the real trust -- rio plus 20 summit. in the u.s., the limit
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demonstration has granted permission for part of the southern leg of the keystone xl pipeline from oklahoma to refineries in the gulf coast. bill, from rio to the xl to the wild fires of colorado, hold forth. >> today is one of those days when you understand what the early parts of the global warming era will look like. we have the first -- for the first time in history, we have managed to get the fourth tropical storm of the before july. debby is dropping record amounts of total across florida. in colorado, they have evacuated not only parts of the air force academy, but just evacuate it -- to the ironic -- the headquarters of the national center for atmospheric research outside boulder, or at least part of it, because that is the place for the most important climate science in the place is going on.
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the most destructive fires in colorado history and, after the warmest weather ever recorded there. you could do the same exercise all over the planet today. this is what it looks like as the planet begins, and i underline begins, to warm. nothing that happens in rio will even begin to slow down that trajectoryri. was a failure. people walked out. clearly, the thing had turned into a sham. the best proof is probably, as you say, even the most obvious of measures, ending the subsidies, the honest trillion dollars a year the world pays to the fossil fuel industry, even that was not really on the table. we had a twitter storm a week ago today all over the world,
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the number one trending topic on twitter wasn't justin bieber's birthday or something like that, it was and fossil fuel subsidies. people around the plant getting exercised. the rio conference ended without any agreement whether that might happen or when and how. the absolute command of the fossil fuel industry over most of our political system is really evident, really evident when the president, who under great pressure and with some courage, blocked the northern part of the keystone pipeline yesterday with great fanfare, said he was approving the second or the southern half, the part in the u.s. this is back and neck to the tar sands, so it probably is not the same low in terms of climate change, but certainly a blow to people in texas or the pipeline
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is going. if you go on-line, you will see how we're going to try and fight back. there are great people down there putting their bodies on the line, or will soon be, putting their bodies up against that fossil fuel money. this will be a hard fight until we build the movement strong enough to really counterbalance that weight of fossil fuel money. >> you say it does not hooked up to tarzan's, but isn't that the eventual goal? >> that is what the koch brothers and every other tar sand billionaire wants to do. for the moment, that is still under review. the president has promised it will finally get a serious review. we don't know how serious. the state department put out their initial guidelines for their next review last week and they did not even mention
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climate change. one is beginning to wonder whether the state bar man is really a weak link in any effort to deal with climate change. secretary of state clinton has failed not only at rio but also copenhagen in terms of climate change diplomacy. since it is the state to permit that will review this pipeline crossing from canada, it will probably be our best chance to figure whether they take global warming seriously at all. they should. it is clearly the issue of the time ahead. we will find out. we will keep fighting. not only on keystone, but we have remarkable electronic scoreboard on that allows people all over the country to nail down their senators and congressmen on whether they think we should keep giving money every year to the fossil fuel industry. my senator and vermont has introduced a bill along with
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minnesota that would strip $113 billion in fossil fuel subsidies over the next decade. even if these guys were not destroying the planet with this money, it is obnoxious we're giving the richest industry on earth -- especially since there's not much to subsidize. for better and worse, we have known how to burn coal and oil for a couple hundred years. there is no point in underwriting and >> bill mckibben, i want to ask about a federal appeals court has upheld the environmental protection agency's effort to use the clean air act to regulate carbon emissions from the country's largest polluters. also, the three-judge panel upheld the obama administration's inaugural car and fuel economy standards, which aimed to cut new car pollution in half and double fuel efficiency by 2025. your response? >> those things are promising. let's hope the supreme court
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does not get in the way. no wagers on that. but these are very long-term steps. the key steps right now are to keep that will in the ground, not to open the arctic to drilling, not to build new coal ports on the west coast, not to put up that pipeline to the tar sands. >> a lot of people here you say the word "not," and are concerned we will not have jobs. >> the good news is, we're figuring out how to do green technology. if you want a real success story, last month, in germany managed to generate more than half the electricity of consumption from solar panels and its borders within one day. there's still a great technical problem with transition to clean energy. the problem is political. >> thank you for being with us, founder of, bill
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mckibben. tune in thursday morning at 10:00 for live coverage on


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