President Obama And The Dark Money Debacle

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President Obama, executive order, dark money
Obama could end dark money secrecy by signing an executive order.

President Obama And The Dark Money Debacle

The war is still on regarding dark money campaign funding. All attempts by the White House to disclose the donors of such sly spending have been met by roadblocks and vitriolic threats from big corporations with federal contracts, to the Republican lawmakers whose bread and butter comes from these groups.

Dark money is essentially, money donated to non-profit organizations by big corporations and individuals. Since these groups are limited to what they can toss into elections, the non-profits aren’t. They can use the money to do what the big corporations can’t. Primarily 501(c)(4) social welfare, and 501(c)(6) trade associatioin groups can receive unlimited funds from unions, individuals, and corporations and they don’t have to disclose who their donors are.

This is the issue up front. The secret donors. With these funds, the nonprofits can influence elections. It’s an underhanded and despicable practice and has undermined the political landscape from one end to the other. The big question is, why doesn’t President Obama just end it by signing an executive order demanding all dark money from federal contracted companies, corporations, individuals be disclosed?

Obama can do this with one pen stroke. It would take five minutes at the most, but he’s reluctant to do so. The question is “why?”. In 2011 the idea of doing so was bandied about at the White House, but Republicans and corporations went ballistic. They made every possible threat against the idea outside of asking Obama outside for a fist fight. It is clear that Obama wants to but doesn’t want to. We can only speculate that it would be because he might be using that potential action as a bargaining chip regarding other legislation and policies. Either the Republicans play ball on those policies or Obama whips out the pen and pulls their britches down.

The executive order would only apply to unions, corporations, individuals who have government contracts. Such opponents are the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest of the dark money groups who during the last two midterm elections expanded their funding reach and was the first to declare opposition. Other resistance fighters include General Dynamics probably the largest defense contractor in the US. They had told their stockholders that they directly funded dark money to political groups but didn’t disclose which ones. Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, General Electric and the Koch brothers all hold government contracts and are involved.

The factual statistics speak for themselves. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this practice of dark money escalated from $5.2 million in 2006 to a whopping $300 million by 2012 during the presidential cycle and a staggering $174 million in the 2014 midterms. That’s 4.6% of all campaign spending in2014.

As one can see, this practice is the fuel for the engine of politics and disclosing the donors would make them responsible in the public eye for what they do. They sure don’t want that.

So the ball is in Obama’s court. He can end this with his pen, but it’s unlikely he’ll do so. He’s been reticent to do what he’d promised during his campaigns regarding ‘change’ and has left his supporters crestfallen in the process. He’s catered to the big business, big bankers, and the wealthy are gaining more wealth at astronomical levels. The same 1% that were bailed out twice after stealing and engaging in unethical business practices that the Dept. of Justice said were too big to prosecute.

Where does this leave the American people? Vulnerable. Vulnerable to more economic inequality and power to make changes. Obama has to power to change it, and if he doesn’t, it will be the Waterloo to his presidential legacy.