Weekly Diaspora: ICE Deports Children, Disabled, and Domestic Violence Victims

 

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

For the past several months, the Obama administration has relentlessly professed its commitment to targeting only the most dangerous “criminal aliens.” But a new report released this week by the Immigration Policy Center suggests that misguided Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) polices render the administration virtually powerless to fulfill its promise.

As Braden Goyette at Campus Progress reports, ICE’s practice of outsourcing immigration enforcement to local police through the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs undermines the administration’s stated priority of deporting “the worst of the worst.” She writes:

By using these partnerships to increase its deportation figures, the federal government gives up control over front-line enforcement to local police, opening up the door to subjective judgment calls—essentially, all of the problems that plague everyday policing.

Law enforcement charged with enforcing immigration laws—particularly in areas where heavy enforcement is politically popular—routinely make discretionary arrests in direct defiance of the Obama administration’s stated priorities. As a result, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been deported because of minor crimes, such as traffic offenses.

A bigger issue, though, is that ICE’s enforcement programs are fundamentally out of line with the Obama administration’s avowed commitment to targeting criminals. The Secure Communities program, which requires local law enforcement agencies to share fingerprints with ICE, is a key example of this disconnect. The program routinely nets even the victims of violent crime. Secure Communities is expanding rapidly, despite its deviance from the agency’s stated objective of pursuing criminals.

ICE programs target domestic violence victims

Elise Foley at the Washington Independent reports that one issue arising with Secure Communities is the detention and deportation of undocumented victims of domestic violence, whose fingerprints have been entered into police records.

Foley notes that, in response to one such incident, ICE officials told the Washington Post that they would pursue action on all undocumented immigrants brought to their attention, in spite of agency directives:

ICE cannot and will not turn a blind eye to those who violate federal immigration law,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian Hale. “While ICE’s enforcement efforts prioritize convicted criminal aliens, ICE maintains the discretion to take action on any alien it encounters.

Of course, ICE can exercise discretion by refusing to take action against victims of violent crime—particularly since doing so defies the administration’s stated goals—but chooses not to. And, without laws in place that clearly limit the scope of ICE’s immigration enforcement programs, the Obama administration’s “priorities” amount to little more than empty rhetoric.

Family fights deportation of son with Down Syndrome

“Discretion” is a word that arises again and again in immigration discourse. A common criticism of the dysfunctional immigration system is that overcrowding and under-staffing discourages officials from exercising their discretion in favor of undocumented immigrants who might have legitimate grounds to remain in the country.

Some of these individuals include legal residents who are deported on a technicality and immigrant soldiers who deported after serving in the U.S. military.

One such individual, whose story is detailed by Change.org’s Prerna Lal, is Hee Chun Kang, a Korean immigrant with Down Syndrome who awaits deportation on a technicality:

Hee Chun and Hyo Chun were 10 and 7 years of age, respectively, when their parents brought them to the United States in 1993. They overstayed their tourist visas, but due to a family petition filed on their behalf, the parents became legal residents last year. However, Hee Chun and Hyo Chun were both over 21 by the time a visa was available, so they aged-out and now await deportation from the United States, away from their parents.

Lal cites several reasons that Kang’s deportation is unnecessary, most of which boil down to the fact that immigration officials have the power to defer the deportation order due to Kang’s highly irregular situation.

Children deported without parents become fodder for drug cartels

ICE’s demonstrated enforcement priorities—as evidenced in the cases mentioned above—hint at the lack of humanity inherent in deportations. But a Texas Observer investigation by Melissa Del Bosque underscores the brutality of a system that relentlessly pursues deportation quotas at the expense of the most vulnerable—children.

Every day, scores of children attempt to cross the border in the U.S., either with family members, or in an effort to reunite with family on the other. These children often end up alone and in the custody of the Border Patrol, which sends them back to Mexico, where they are housed in shelters until they are claimed. According to Del Bosque’s sources, 90,000 children have been deported to Mexico without parents and 13,500 have not been claimed. Of the unclaimed, many fall into the hands of drug cartels and smugglers.

It’s a humanitarian crisis that, according to Del Bosque, could easily be reversed if government officials on both sides of the border abandoned their politics for the sake of protecting thousands of lost children:

Mexico and the United States have binational accords and a repatriation program to protect migrant children, yet neither country ensures they’re safely returned home. The U.S. Border Patrol and [Mexico's social service agency] could set up a database to monitor children at risk to prevent them from ending up on the streets. The U.S. Congress could also pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a family reunification process to prevent children from being dumped in Mexican shelters. The Border Patrol already has a congressional mandate to screen for vulnerable kids and refer them to U.S. agencies that can help, yet advocates say it’s not being done.

Evidently, good intentions and high-minded priorities mean little when it comes to enforcement. The Obama administration needs to pull its immigration practices into line with its professed priorities—or children, victims, and other innocents will continue to slip through the cracks for the sake of meeting quotas and breaking records.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse<. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Weekly Diaspora: Immigration Reform Falls to the GOP

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

The precarious fate of comprehensive immigration reform has fallen into the hands of staunch nativists. With Republicans now leading the House and a new crop of anti-immigrant governors stepping up to bat, the road to immigration reform just became more arduous than ever.

The results of the mid-term elections are a heavy blow to immigration reform advocates who have recently contended with a DREAM Act defeat, a pandemic of state-level anti-immigrant measures, attempts to stifle Latino votes, and an allegedly disaffected Latino electorate. And, to add insult to injury, the election season was tainted by a slew of race-baiting campaign aids and sensational anti-immigrant soundbytes (AlterNet has the rundown).

But, amid the upset, there is some hope. Despite pessimistic predictions, Latinos voters defiantly flexed their electoral muscle, effectively creating a “Latino firewall in the west” that helped save the Senate for Democrats, according to Elena Shore at New America Media. Moreover, numerous anti-immigrant measures are finally getting their day in court—though the results of those hearings may be as mixed as the outcome of this election.

Immigration reform in the hands of House Republicans

While Democrats retained control of the Senate, the Republican seizure of the House bodes ill for comprehensive immigration reform.

As Elise Foley note at the Washington Independent, immigration legislation will now be at the mercy of John Boehner (R-OH), the new speaker of the house, and Representative Steve King (R-IA), who will now chair the immigration subcommittee. Both legislators oppose comprehensive reform and will likely project their shared anti-immigrant agenda on House legislation:

King tends to be on the extreme end of anti-illegal immigration rhetoric: He favors changes to birthright citizenship to keep U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants from receiving citizenship and argues more states should pass immigration crackdowns like Arizona’s SB 1070. King has pushed for more border enforcement and an electrified  fence along the border to keep illegal immigrants out. “We do that with livestock all the time,” he said. […]

Of course, King won’t have ultimate power over the House Republicans’ priorities on immigration. Boehner will set a good deal of the agenda, and is likely to follow some of the plans hinted at in the Pledge to America, a vague but enforcement-heavy document released in September.

Foley also reports that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which supports comprehensive immigration reform, lost three House members this election—Reps. John Salazar (D-CO), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) and Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX).

An influx of anti-immigrant governors

State gubernatorial races proved similarly disappointing for reform advocates, as a host of anti-immigrant candidates were propelled into office on a wave of Tea Party-backed, anti-immigrant sentiment.

Just before the election, Mother Jones’ Suzy Khimm profiled a series of anti-immigrant gubernatorial front runners, most of whom ended up winning.

In Georgia, a state poised to replicate Arizona’s SB 1070, the governor’s seat went to Nathan Deal, “an early supporter of a birthright citizenship bill that would deny granting citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.” Moreover, in Nevada and New Mexico, two anti-immigrant Latino candidates prevailed: Susana Martinez (R-NM), who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and accused her opponent of defending child-molesting “criminal illegals,” and Brian Sandoval (R-NV), who supports SB-1070 and famously bragged that his children “don’t look Hispanic.”

Brewer skips town to attend SB 1070 hearing

Meanwhile, Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) retained her governorship this week, in spite of some really disastrous campaigning. Fittingly, Brewer spent election day appealing the federal injunction issued against SB 1070, the harsh anti-immigrant law that made her famous, last spring.

New America Media’s Valeria Fernández reports that Terry Goddard, Arizona’s current attorney general and democratic gubernatorial candidate, blasted Brewer’s decision to attend the SB 1070 hearing and suggested that her relentless defense of the anti-immigrant law has more to do with her connections to the private prison industry than her concern over public safety:

Goddard pointed to Brewer’s staff—including political advisor Chuck Coughlin, president of High Ground Public Affairs, which also represents Correction Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s largest private-prison company —as evidence that she is more concerned with helping private business make a profit than with public safety.

Goddard isn’t the first to make such a claim. Media outlets have reported on Arizona legislators’ suspicious connections to the private prison industry for several months. In June, Beau Hodai revealed for In These Times how SB 1070 was steered and shaped by private prison lobbyists:

… the bill’s promoters are as equally dedicated to border politics as they are to promoting the fortunes of private prison companies, like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo Group, which stand to reap substantial profits as more undocumented residents end up in jail.

Hodai’s findings were further validated by a much-publicized NPR investigation last week.

All of the bad press has done little to hurt Brewer, however. She retained her governorship and managed to collect $3 million in private donations to continue defending SB 1070, which she is prepared to take all the way to the Supreme Court.

Of course, that may not be necessary—as Fernández notes, “longtime legal observers who watched the hearing said the judges seemed to be leaning toward partially reinstating the provisions” previously thrown out by federal Judge Susan Bolton. It’s still too soon to tell for sure, but preliminary indicators suggest that legal challenges to recently passed anti-immigrant legislation will obtain mixed results. Two lawsuits against SB 1070 have already been dismissed, while several other anti-immigrant measures have recently been overturned, blocked, or delayed by federal judges.

The fight for comprehensive immigration reform has clearly taken a big hit on all fronts—not least of which, electorally. But while election results were disappointing for reform advocates, they also clearly demonstrated the undeniable electoral might of Latinos—who, in spite of low expectations, came out in strong numbers and disproportionately supported pro-immigration candidates. It’s not over till it’s over.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Campaign Cash: Citizens United Becomes Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card for Corporate Criminals

by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger

The votes are in, and while some close races are still being tallied, there is a clear winner from the 2010 elections: Secret corporate cash.

Such unaccounted for political donations may end up allowing those accused of wrongdoing to go free. As Joshua Holland details for AlterNet, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission may have provided a lifetime supply of get-out-of-jail-free cards to corporate criminals.

The Kentucky senate race serves as a prime example. The Democratic candidate, Jack Conway, is currently Kentucky’s attorney general. Conway is also currently prosecuting a nursing home for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of one of its residents.

But that nursing home is owned by Terry Forcht, a millionaire who gives prodigiously to right-wing causes. He poured money into Karl Rove’s organization, American Crossroads GPS, which ran ads backing Conway’s Republican opponent, Rand Paul. Guess who came away with the victory last night?

As Holland emphasizes, the mid-term elections are just how the first phase of the justice system’s corruption plays out. Eventually the mere threat of attack ads could be enough to prevent needed prosecutions. Corporate bigwigs could literally get away with murder, and pay for it only through attack ads.

 

Think this is bad? Just wait for 2012

As David Corn details for Mother Jones, the Supreme Court’s ruling has put American democracy in grave danger. This year’s big spending is just a warm-up for the 2012 presidential election. Karl Rove has already pledged to keep running attack ads after the mid-terms, and there’s no doubt that he’ll make good on that. As Corn emphasizes, this issue doesn’t just affect how campaigns are financed—it will permanently reshape the very nature of American elections.

The permanent, neverending campaign will become even more permanent and neverending. These big-and-secret-money groups will be working 24/7, opposing and discrediting President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the so-called off-year and then revving up for the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. The negative ads never have to stop.

That, ultimately, is the major take-away from last night’s elections. Not the number of seats Republicans picked up in the House, or the Tea Party’s ability to infiltrate the Senate, but the formal incorporation of American politics. With literally no limits on the amount of money they can spend to influence elections, corporations and secret billionaires are going to be tipping the democratic scales wherever they smell profit.

That means it will be much, much harder for politicians of any ideological stripe to solve society’s problems. The richest corporations have the most political purchasing power, and the companies with the most money are those that have thrived under the status quo—however destructive that state of affairs may be to society at large. This money will go to keeping things the way they are—not toward creating jobs, improving education, expanding access to health care, stopping ecological catastrophe or anything else.

Citizens United 101

We spoke with Jesse Zwick of The Washington Independent about the nuts and bolts of Citizens United and secret campaign cash. In the below video, Zwick details the potential impact of secret money—and how citizens and legislature can curb the effects of this historic ruling.

Bare-bones, anti-Citizens United legislation might still have a shot

So what can be done? Earlier this year, Republicans successfully filibustered legislation that would have forced corporations to disclose their political spending and require front-groups to divulge the identities of their donors. But as Jesse Zwick emphasizes for The Washington Independent, there’s still one more opportunity to push a bare-bones version of the bill through Congress. Democrats will retain their broad Congressional majorities until January 2011, when the candidates elected last night formally take up office. If Democrats see which way the corporate wind is blowing, they’ll flex their political muscles one last time to get a disclosure bill through Congress. There are many things that people are reluctant to do in public that they have the political right to do. If lawmakers can remove the anonymity from corporate and elite political spending, some of the Citizens United damage could be reversed.

If not, 2012 is going to be even uglier than last night.

But wait, there’s more!

  • Amie Newman of RH Reality Check reports that a last-minute mailer funded by outside group The Citizens for Responsible Spending attacked Washington state Sen. Rodney Tom, citing his pro-women’s rights and pro-LGBT positions. Tom ended up losing his seat last night.
  • California upheld its environmental protection law by defeating Proposition 23, despite the fact that oil companies funneled nearly $10 million to pass the measure, reports Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones.
  • As Dave Gilson details for Mother Jones, outside spending worked overwhelmingly in favor of Republican candidates in key races.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the mid-term elections and campaign financing by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit The Media Consortium for more articles on these issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: Lawless Judges, Immigrant Soldiers, and Deportee Pardons

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Here’s the harsh truth about our immigration system: When 392,000 immigrants are detained per year and 33,000 more are detained everyday with limited staff and minimal federal oversight, institutional misconduct is inevitable.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is moving record-breaking numbers of immigrants through its ancillary agencies and, in the process, immigrant women are being raped by Border Patrol agents, LGBT detainees are being sexually assaulted at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and citizens and legal residents are certainly being deported.

How can such things come to pass? Simple: a combination of overworked and overzealous officials are enforcing overly broad immigration laws. It should be no wonder that people, inevitably, slip through the cracks—whether immigrant, citizen, or soldier.

Immigration judges subverting the law

Misconduct, corruption and a general inability to handle impossibly high caseloads aren’t exclusive to DHS and its many agencies. On the contrary, organizational mismanagement plagues every aspect of the immigration process.

As Jacqueline Stevens reports at the Nation, immigration courts are rife with lawlessness and corruption. Charged with adjudicating the hundreds of thousands of immigrants thrown their way by DHS every year, judges are authorizing deportations without even seeing the defendants, issuing rulings at mass hearings (usually with no lawyers present), and abandoning due process for a quicker turn-around.

What’s more: the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR)—a separate agency from DHS—is actively shielding this misconduct from the public and trying to avoid federal oversight:

The public’s ignorance of the idiocies endemic to the EOIR’s business as usual and the calamities these entail is no accident. The agency deliberately withholds basic information from the media and researchers, and its top officials routinely decline requests for interviews […] Complaints about immigration judges fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), and people may file there directly, but the EOIR instructs immigration court stakeholders to lodge complaints with the EOIR itself. Instead of passing complaints on to the OPR, as the website promises, the EOIR top brass, to protect their cronies and avoid outside scrutiny, sweeps complaints under the rug.

Consequently, American citizens—as well as immigrants who could qualify to remain in the country—are being deported indiscriminately by judges whose decisions are rarely, if ever, questioned.

Immigrant soldiers deported after serving in the U.S. military

Immigrant soldiers serving in the U.S. military are among those routinely cheated by deportation-happy immigration judges.

Julianne Hing reports at ColorLines that 17,000 non-citizens are on active duty in the armed forces, and 4,000 immigrant veterans have already been deported or are facing deportation because of criminal convictions. Hing argues that, while some of those veterans are certainly guilty of violent crimes, many others have committed only minor crimes, like drug possession, and have already served time in jail. Deportation is a secondary, and wholly incommensurate, punishment.

A double standard is at play. Veterans, regardless of immigration status, are more likely than the general population to abuse drugs and alcohol and to commit violent crimes. But while non-citizen soldiers are indiscriminately deported for minor offenses, thousands of American military rapists have deftly avoided punishment in the past 15 years.The U.S. government’s prejudicial treatment of non-citizen soldiers isn’t new (to date, Filipino veterans who fought alongside American soldiers in WWII are still waiting to receive the benefits promised to them), but it remains reprehensible.

The unique plight of immigrant veterans certainly puts into perspective the ongoing push for passage of the DREAM Act—proposed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for immigrant youth who serve in the military.

New York governor to pardon deportees?

Fortunately, some government officials are working towards a fairer immigration system. Elise Foley at the Washington Independent reports that New York governor David Paterson (D) has created a panel to review thousands of pardon requests from immigrant detainees awaiting deportation:

The idea behind the panel is to allow relief from the “extremely inflexible” federal law for green card holders “who have contributed as New Yorkers and who deserve relief from deportation or indefinite detention,” Paterson said when he announced its creation in May. […] While Paterson’s pardon panels would not change the way immigration courts are run, the effort is arguably a push to add a bit of discretion back into the system.

Paterson’s laudable commitment to protecting the interests of immigrants, particularly when doing so is far from politically expedient, is proof positive that rectifying our broken immigration system is entirely within the reach of our politicians. Misconduct and corruption within our immigration agencies are not merely the product of overcrowding and understaffing, but rather persistent inaction on the part of powerful lawmakers and government officials.

As Stevens wryly notes for The Nation: President Barack Obama, whose own citizenship is repeatedly questioned, ought to get on board.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Campaign Cash: Corporations Get More Power, Political Parties Get Less

 

by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger

War chests from right-wing billionaires and corporate titans are funding tremendous portions of political activity, from the so-called grassroots activism of the Tea Party to the streamlined lobbying assaults of the nation’s largest corporations.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s wildly unpopular ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, secret election financing by elites is exploding, even as the public visibility of such electoral purchasing power evaporates.

 

Corporations get more freedom as political parties get less

As Jamelle Bouie emphasizes for The American Prospect, election funding from political committees and non-profits is already up 40 percent from 2008 levels. But the oft-cited the liberation of the corporate purse was accompanied by less-well-known constraints on political parties themselves. While corporations like Wal-Mart and Bank of America are free to spend as much as they want attacking or promoting specific candidates, the political parties themselves cannot.

As Bouie notes, this scenario further rigs the electoral game in favor of the wealthy and corporations. Candidates who know that their party can’t help them out become even more dependent on corporate cash during elections. And while few entities are less popular right now than the Republican and Democratic parties, they are ultimately accountable to their voters. They reach out to a broad array of individuals across the country, while corporations merely advance their own interests.

Political parties—however imperfect—can serve as a check on such destructive corporate influence. Citizens United has made that check much weaker. As Jesse Zwick writes for The Washington Independent, political parties used to dominate independent election spending. This year, for the first time, thanks to Citizens United, front-groups and corporations have taken the lead.

The Tea Party “grassroots” movement is anything but

Billionaires are on the attack, exploiting campaign finance loopholes to prop-up phony “grassroots” political movements. The most egregious—and successful—effort has been waged by David Koch, a long-time GOP fundraiser who is now backing major Tea Party organizers. Koch is the executive vice president of Koch Industries, Inc., which refines and distributes petroleum and other raw materials.

As Adele Stan details in her latest in-depth expose for AlterNet and The Nation Investigative Fund, Koch has found ways to funnel money to the Tea Party in just about every way imaginable. But it’s most sinister maneuver was the establishment of two right-wing front groups that keep their donors anonymous. After Citizens United, we’ll never know how much money Koch is funneling to the Tea Party, and his front groups—FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity—provide the same cover for other elites.

How much cover? Americans for Prosperity brags that they’ll spend at least $45 million on the 2010 elections, while FreedomWorks plans to throw in another $10 million.

As Stan emphasizes, these two groups are the major organizers of all things Tea Party. They provided logistical organizing for Glenn Beck’s 9/12 rally, held over 300 rallies against health care reform and hosted “voter education” workshops pushing the glories of deregulation to anyone who would listen. They even have an unofficial partnership with Fox News, hosting conservative Fox personalities at their rallies, which are, in turn, promoted by Fox programming. Glenn Beck is even featured in advertisements and fundraising pitches for FreedomWorks.

The anonymity provided by Koch’s front-groups is critical to the Tea Party’s appeal. In popular media, the Tea Party is often described as a grassroots coalition of ordinary, mad-as-hell citizens. That image is hard to sustain in the face of a wildly expensive top-down campaign orchestrated by billionaires. As Stan explains:

The armies of angry white people with their “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, the actual grassroots activists, are not the agents of the Tea Party revolt, but its end users, enriching the Tea Party’s corporate owners just as you and I enrich Google through our clicks.

Of  course, Koch isn’t the only man operating anonymous front-groups. The Citizens United decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of their own cash directly influencing elections. But so long as that money is laundered through a third-party, they can keep these expenditures out of the public eye.

Oil giants dominate U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Nobody has exploited this loophole more aggressively than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying clearinghouse for the nation’s largest corporations.

The Chamber doesn’t just rely on domestic donors. It also accepts cash from dozens of foreign corporations. As Kate Sheppard explains for Mother Jones, no less than 14 foreign oil giants belong to The Chamber, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual dues alone. This is important, because as sweeping and destructive as Citizens United was, it did not grant foreign corporations the right to spend on U.S. elections.  There’s nothing xenophobic about that—it’s a U.S. election, after all, and foreign firms don’t have to live with many of the social and ecological consequences of U.S. deregulation. The Chamber insists it has accounting devices in place to separate its funding and keep its operations within the law, but so far, it hasn’t explained how these work.

But ultimately, as Sheppard and her MoJo colleague Nick Baumann note, the influence of domestic corporations on the American political process is equally sinister as foreign corporate influence. If the narrow interests of a U.S. corporation hijack our democracy with campaign war chests, that can be just as bad as subjecting our democracy to the whims of a foreign corporation. Whether the Chamber’s foreign funding follows the letter of the law or not, the organization is still running a destructive campaign to further entrench corporate power in our political system—and shield those same corporate titans from public accountability.

And the existing campaign finance regulators aren’t even enforcing the meager laws that do exist to curb legalized bribery. As Jesse Zwick explains in another piece for The Washington Independent, three recent appointees to the Federal Election Commission have waged an all-out war to mire the agency in gridlock, preventing it from cracking down on straightforward abuses.  President George W. Bush actually named former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX)’s campaign finance lawyer to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). His term has expired, but getting new FEC commissioners confirmed by the Senate in the face of Republican filibusters appears nearly impossible. So Delay’s lawyer, Donald McGahn, is still working to keep campaign finance laws from being enforced, and succeeding.

Democracy is not a corporate bidding war. Corporate cash belongs in the board room, not the voting booth.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the mid-term elections and campaign financing by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit The Media Consortium for more articles on these issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

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