March 4, 2012

Will Lawmakers Campaigning On Occupy Principles Practice What They Preach On Corporate Fundraising?

Every week, Republic Report calls attention to the “Sell Out Of The Week,” a feature that highlights politicians and public officials who have sold out their values and become corrupted. Our first week was President Obama for his super PAC reversal, followed by Democratic operative Joe Trippi for working for the regime in Bahrain, and last week, we called out Rick Santorum for hiding his work for a pork lobbying firm after leaving office.

This week, Republic Report’s Zaid Jilani and Suzanne Merkelson approached Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), a lawmaker who has campaigned for office on a promise to “Occupy” the corporations dominating government. Though Deutch is highlighting an incredibly valid issue, he ducked our questions about why he is working with AT&T lobbyists to raise cash for his campaign. As we noted, Deutch has gone about Congress promoting AT&T’s lobbying agenda, particularly in terms of the proposed merger with T-Mobile, a monopolistic move decried by many.

Watch Deutch talk about his belief in bringing Occupy principles to Congress here (posted on YouTube by the Deutch for Congress account):

Watch Jilani and Merkelson attempt to talk to Deutch this week:

The campaign system, of course, is completely broken and even the most principled candidates must do what they can to fundraise. Some estimates peg the cost of winning a seat in the House of Representatives at $2 million. Deutch should be applauded for raising the issue of corporate personhood and the problem of big businesses corrupting Congress — but he also owes the public an explanation that his donations aren’t influencing his actions in Congress.

Until Deutch explains how he can fundraise with corporations while rejecting their influence, he is our Sell Out Of The Week.

Indeed, many members of Congress are embracing the message of Occupy, but lawmakers must come to grip with how they can pursue the public interest regardless of who gives them money in this current anything-goes campaign finance environment.

  • CatKinNY

    But what is someone like Deutsch to do? If he doesn’t raise enough money to fund a robust campaign, a Republican who has no qualms about taking money from forces that are only interested in keeping their own taxes very low and removing all regulatory barriers to whatever they want to do wins the seat. Until we can get the money out of politics, everybody has to raise it.

  • ChandlerMc

    This situation highlights the inherent contradictions that all politicians face. It’s a classic catch 22 because the only people who can change the system are the same people who are benefitting from its existence. I give Rep Deutch credit for introducing the (coolly named) OCCUPIED Constitutional Amendment:

    Undermining the
    Interest in our
    Elections and

    There is a similar bill introduced by Sen Bernie Sanders in the Senate but the chances of these bills becoming law are slim at best. They seek to overturn the Citizens United ruling and to ban corporate funding of political campaigns. The problem is that if current legislators pass any of these amendments they will essentially committ political suicide. They would open the door for a multitude of challengers and level the playing field in terms of funding. But the only way anything will change is constant and unrelenting public pressure. I would encourage everyone, regardless of political affiliation, to take some sort of action. Sign a petition, call your representatives, spread the word on social media, donate time and/or a few dollars to relevant organizations. This is an issue that should galvanize all Americans since the problem is equally cancerous for both parties. Money in politics is the root of 95% of all political evil (the other 5% is just your plain old garden variety evil). There are a few organizations that are doing great work on this issue but they need more help. and are good places to start.

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