August 31, 2012

On HuffPost: To Get Better Policies, Expose Corrupt Politics

Huffington Post published this piece by me yesterday, as part of its Shadow Conventions series:

To grasp the harms caused when money dominates politics, start with for-profit colleges. This industry tripled in size during the last decade, spurred by deceptive recruiting practices, after its lobbyists loosened federal rules aimed at protecting students and taxpayers from fraud. It has become a monster, a league of Wall Street corporations and private equity-owned firms that get 86 percent of their revenues — $32 billion a year — from taxpayers.

While some for-profit colleges are honest and work to educate their students, many charge sky-high …

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August 24, 2012

On Politico: Taming the for-profit college monster

I have a piece today on Politico proposing a new approach to the abuses of for-profit colleges. Here’s an excerpt:

The for-profits have used our taxes to finance a race to the bottom: the more you abuse students, the more money you make. Their wealth may doom to failure the current approach to regulation, which has created benchmark after benchmark that schools must flunk to lose federal aid. Not only has the industry schemed to weaken and evade such tests, but also it has exploited opportunities to gain sympathy and support from non-profit and state colleges, when new rules add greater …

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August 22, 2012
Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Indiana)

Congressman, After Hometown Criticism, Pulls Out Of Event At For-Profit College Owned by Big RNC Donor

While his House GOP colleagues are getting publicity for spouting bizarre ideas about rape and pregnancy, or jumping into the Sea of Galilee, Representative Marlin Stutzman of Indiana was planning to head today to the Fort Wayne campus of National College for an event promoted as a chance to inform unemployed veterans about new federal education benefits.

That sounds way more productive. However, as Fort Wayne’s JournalGazette noted in an editorial yesterday, National College is a for-profit school, and its record is controversial.  The paper reported that Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry, slated to attend, was no longer coming. The editorial asserted that Stutzman’s …

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August 9, 2012
Who did Pete Hoekstra influence peddle on behalf of? We may never know.

Who Did Pete Hoekstra Lobby For? We May Never Know

Last night, former congressman Pete Hoekstra won the Michigan GOP Senate primary, securing his spot as the party’s nominee. He will be competing the Senate seat this November.

In between his stint as a congressman and this current race, Hoekstra raked in nearly half a million dollars as “a senior adviser with Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a legal and lobbying firm.” In this role, Hoekstra all but certainly helped the firm’s corporate clients advance their government agendas. But because he spent less than twenty percent of his time on lobbying, he had no obligation to officially register as a lobbyist. Thus …

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August 8, 2012

Another Chamber of Commerce Member Is Caught Bribing Foreign Governments

In late 2010, the foreign-funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce, perhaps Washington’s most powerful corporate front group, unleashed a lobbying blitz to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA is designed to punish U.S.-based corporations that bribe foreign officials abroad.

Earlier this year, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart — which is a Chamber member —  in Mexico was caught bribing officials, funneling millions of dollars through that country. Now, another Chamber member, Pfizer, has been fined for its role in foreign bribery:

As promised, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Pfizer with violating …

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August 7, 2012
Super PAC ads aren't just annoying...they make a lot of money for stations.

Political Advertisements Advance The Media’s Profits

Industry analysts are predicting that upwards of $3 billion will be spent on political advertisements in the 2012 election. This is an increase of more than $500 million from 2008. But who will benefit the most from this cash infusion? Not President Obama. Not even Mitt Romney. Rather, the National Association of Broadcasters, a lobbying group that proclaims itself “the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters.”

A new FCC rule could provide the public with real-time data about who is profiting from the vast Super PAC spending. The commission ruled in April that affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, …

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August 7, 2012

LINKS: Who Are Super PACs Helping The Most?

Politico: Myth of the Small Donor
Roughly 2.5 million people have kicked in $200 or less to the various committees helping their candidate win the White House. But those 2.5 million people account for less than 18 percent of the total money haul.

NY Times: Romney Team Outpaces Obama in Fund-Raising Again
The fund-raising machine behind Mitt Romney and the Republican Party once again outperformed President Obama and the Democrats last month, raising $25 million more in July than the president and his Democratic allies.

The Tennessean: Jim Cooper Proposes Campaign Donations Via Text
The idea is to encourage more people to contribute to campaigns through small-dollar …

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August 7, 2012

Amgen Leaves ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council, one of America’s most powerful corporate front groups, has been taking a beating since their role in promoting voter suppression and “Stand Your Ground” laws was exposed. Dozens of corporations have left. Today, the labor federation AFSCME, along with a group of socially responsible investors, informed Republic Report that drug company Amgen told them that it will not be renewing its membership in ALEC.

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