The FEC Collapse: Triumph of the Plutocrats


fat-cat-cartoonSo it’s come to this: The ultra-rich, corporate PACs and special interest Super PACS are poised to drive 2016 federal election spending to $10 billion, while the only agency that polices campaign corruption levied precisely $135,813 in fines last year.

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court formally sanctioned the purchase of elections (and 15 years after the Court executed the coup d’etat that installed George W. Bush as president), the plutocratic class has knocked out every tooth of the Federal Election Commission and now dominates the political process without restraint.

“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” our old friend Ann Ravel, chair of the FEC, recently admitted.

annravelnewAn idealist disillusioned: Ravel went to Washington a few years ago after serving as the powerhouse leader of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. She is by far the most committed, trustworthy and principled political reformer we know, and her candid concession of powerlessness in the face of a preposterous torrent of campaign cash is simply heartbreaking.

So while Beltway media stenographers arrogantly sniff that “no one really cares” about the poisonous effect of the glut of money forked out by the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelsons and Norman Bramans of the world, the unarguable fact is that 90 percent of Americans – 90%, count ‘em, 90% — say D.C. politicians “are looking out for their own political interest (not the) the common interest.”

“The few rules that are left, people feel free to ignore,” longtime Democratic FEC commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub told the New York Times in a must-read piece certain to make your head explode.

Experts predict that the 2016 race could produce a record fund-raising haul of as much as $10 billion, with the growth fueled by well-financed outside groups. On their own, the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch have promised to spend $889 million through their political network.

KochNKochKissing up to kleptocrats: Democrats, to be sure, are out hustling a share of dark money – hello, Hillary Clinton. But the plain fact is that it was right-wingers on the Supreme Court who enabled the venal politics of 2016; it is Republican candidates and office-holders who benefit while kissing the butts rings of their kleptocratic masters among the richest 1/1000th in the nation; and it is Republican members of the gridlocked FEC who ensure the game stays fixed.

With a straight face, Republican commissioner Caroline Hunter even asserted the puny and ever-shrinking sanctions handed out by the agency – last year’s inconsequential fines equal 0.0001% of the amount expected to be spent on 2016 campaigns – “could easily be read as a signal that people are following the law.”

Excuse us while we build a stadium big enough to hold our laughter.

Sorry Caroline, but our own experience, not to mention inbred common sense, confirms that the honorable and straight-talking Ann Ravel is the one telling it like it is here:

What’s really going on is that the Republican commissioners don’t want to enforce the law, except in the most obvious cases. The rules aren’t being followed, and that’s destructive to the political process.

onionThe bottom line: So warped and unfairly weighted is the system, that it takes The Onion, with its recent Q&A on super Pacs, to describe its full absurdity.

Q: Isn’t it true that super PACs drown out the voices of everyday Americans with their narrow, self-serving messages, effectively crippling the democratic process and reinforcing a vicious cycle in which all politicians are beholden to multimillionaires and merely feign interest in the working and middle classes in a cynical attempt to clinch their election and advance the interests of the country’s moneyed elite, further dividing a crumbling nation already hopelessly mired in inequality?
A: No.

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There are 6 comments for this post

  1. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    Just read a newspaper report that the pro-Demo super-pacs have now outraised the pro-Republican Super-Pacs. But you would never know that from reading the above Cal-Buzz prejudiced lines. Have you folks ever heard of enviro-freak Tom Steyer and his leading $73 million contribution to his pro-enviro Super Pac? Get fair Cal-Buzz or you’ll lose any credibility you have left.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      The Dems’ super PC raising is referenced and there is a link to the Martin Wisckol story you cite. Jeez Ernie, read the pieces before commenting please.

  2. avatar patwater says:

    “Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of today.”

    Kinda interesting how the transition from an idustrial to an information society recapitulate some of the same crony capitalist challenges as from an agricultural to an industrial society a century ish ago.

  3. avatar Noozeyeguy says:

    Here’s a quote for you: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1770-1831)

    You would think, given how close this country came to revolution in the ’30s, that the plutocrats of all political persuasions would endeavor to avoid repeating the excesses of the Gilded Age. Obviously not.

  4. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    We surely all remember this famous quote from the 1902 coal strike:

    When George Baer, spokesman for the (coal mine) operators, received a letter appealing to him as a good Christian to make concessions, he replied that the “rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for–not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the country.”

    Times and attitudes have changed … haven’t they?

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