Monday, May 9, 2011

Fixing democracy: the newsbeat

● Alan Simpson, a Republican who represented Wyoming in the US Senate for almost 20 years and is now co-chair of Americans for Campaign Reform, explains why the GOP should get behind publicly funded campaigns: "Even a cursory glance at campaign finance disclosures shows that the lion’s share of campaign money comes from individuals and groups with vested tax-and-spending interests before Congress."

● Shareholder meetings provide a spotlight for those who have been victimized by corporate practice to confront boards of directors, as foreclosure victims did to Wells Fargo last week. And this year in particular, more shareholder proposals ask boards of directors to report on corporate spending and contributions. In fact, according to ProxyMonitor's Findings page report that among Fortune 100 companies, “the share of social policy proposals focusing on political spending has increased 84% in 2011 from the three previous years (2008-2010)” One of the most ambitious proposals will be heard at Home Depot's stockholder meeting on June 2, where a vote will consider asking the corporation to submit political expenditures to a shareholder advisory vote.

● The coalition Campaign Accountability Watch is asking US attorneys to prosecute outside groups for using nonprofits to take anonymous donations in what it says is a violation of election laws that require transparency. Forty US attorneys have received letters from the coalition.

● Nevada's secretary of state is seeking to beef up that state's campaign finance laws, including passage of a bill that would require earlier and on-line filing of campaign contributions, to allow voters to see who or what was funding a candidate's campaign before election day. Other reforms include restriction of creation of multiple PACs to get around donation limits, online voter registration, a "cooling off" period between lawmaking and lobbying gigs, and disclosure of entities or individuals spending more than $100 for or against a candidate.

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