Entry for October 19, 2006

The illustration comes from Californians for Clean Elections which includes a listing of who is supporting and opposing Proposition 89 which limits the amount corporations can spend on initiatives and the amount everybody can give to candidates. It also provides “Clean Money” public financing to qualified candidates “so elections become about ideas, not money.”

Those on the right are always decrying union contributions as special interest spending.  Interestingly, the California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) released an analysis today, “Top 10 Corporate Spenders On 2006 Initiatives Give $132 Million; Corporations Give 61% of Total Initiative Funding, Outspend Unions 12 To 1.”

The list of the top ten corporate, union and individual expenditures on ballot initiatives in 2006:

Philip Morris USA Inc. – $30,420,081
Chevron Corporation – $30,250,000
Aera Energy (ExxonMobile & Shell) – $24,620,838
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company – $22,781,513
CA Hospitals Committee On Issues, Sponsored By CAHHS(*) – $9,916,673
Occidental Oil And Gas Corporation – $9,350,000
U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. – $2,121,799
California Alliance For Jobs Rebuild California Committee(ý) – $1,800,000
Plains Exploration & Production Company – $1,250,000
Commonwealth Brands, Inc. – $1,250,000

TOP TEN TOTAL: $132,510,903

* Major funding provided by hospital and health care corporations
ý Major funding provided by construction/builders

The Foundation is one of the supporters of California Proposition 89, explained FTCR’s Carmen Balber.

Voters are fed up with the avalanche of misleading television ads that are inevitable when just 10 corporations are allowed to give half the money raised for ballot initiatives in an election. Proposition 89 will change all that, slashing the amount of corporate money spent on ballot measures to lessen the onslaught of ads and level the playing field.

Proposition 89 will be highlighted on David Brancaccio’s PBS program, NOW, tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. here in Roanoke, in an episode “Votes for Sale?” which examines the Clean Election movement in which candidates forego private donations in exchange for receiving public money.   While there is no information at the program’s site yet, here is information from a prior episode on the same topic, “Fixing Democracy,” which aired November 1, 2002.

Arizona has a Citizen’s Clean Elections Commission.  The national group, Public Campaign, maintains a blog on current developments.


The Center for American Progress has started Campus Progress

 to strengthen progressive voices on college and university campuses and to empower new progressive leaders nationwide.

On C-Span, I got to watch, “Conversations with Daschle: Charlie Cook on the Midterm Elections and the Issues Facing The Country (includes video clip)” the October 18 symposium the group co-sponsored by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. 

Cook, who publishes Cook’s Political Report, has written  “The Blue Wave of the Future,” which appeared October 17 in National Journal.  He writes,

Election Day is three weeks from now, and unless something happens fast, this will be one of those once- or twice-in-a-generation elections when a party enjoys unbelievable gains or endures horrendous losses that prove to be the exceptions to Tip O’Neill’s adage that “all politics is local.” In midterm elections, Democrats last suffered such a defeat in 1994; for Republicans, it was 20 years before that in the Watergate election of 1974.


Charlie Rose tonight featured Barak Obama (Google video of the program)  talking about his new book, The Audacity of Hope, (Crown, 2006)  and speculation that he will run for President in 2008. 


 Interestingly, the title is the same as Andrew Miller’s article  posted online on March 6, 2006 in the Harvard Political Review.  Subtitled “Barak  Obama One Year Later,” it includes this anecdote and assessment.

The day before he was sworn in, Obama was asked during a makeshift press conference, “What is your place in history?” Laughing, he reminded the reporter that he hadn’t yet cast a single vote. That question, however, encapsulates the conundrum that the junior senator from Illinois still faces today. Obama must strike a balance between maintaining his place in the national consciousness and projecting the image of a humble, diligent senator. The extent to which he has achieved that balance over the last year demonstrates the true depth of Obama’s political acumen.

By the way, Rose’s  website has a banner  promising that in honor of its fifteen year,  it will soon include streaming video and guest background information



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