Monday, May 14, 2012


As every American who pays any kind of attention to the news has noticed over the last few weeks, the political election season has definitely kicked into a higher gear.

In Nebraska, the major signal for that time of year is also the primary election, which is tomorrow. What Nebraskans and other Americans around the country haven't seen yet, that those with early primaries, or in swing states have already seen, is the on-the-ground effect of what the monstrous flood of unregulated campaign money can do.

Nebraskans is getting a taste of the rich trying to buy our elections right now.

Starting last week, Joe Ricketts, the wealthy patriarch of the family behind TD Ameritrade, funded a massive, last-minute political ad campaign backing GOP candidate, and current Nebraska state senator Deb Fischer. While we're not huge fans of Jon Bruning, current Nebraska Attorney General and another Republican in the race, the ads that Ricketts backed are quite obviously a big money hatchet job, designed to drive Republican voters away from Bruning.

If that kind of big money attempt and the name Ricketts seem to ring a bell with you, it shouldn't be a surprise. Joe Ricketts' son, Pete, was the bald headed braggart who got beaten soundly by Democratic U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, back in 2006, after a multi-million dollar barrage of similar ads.

While this kind of thing shouldn't surprise Nebraskans, or really any American, too many citizens have yet to see the reality of this attempt to buy our politics outright - and it is in NO way a bipartisan affair.

The non-partisan OpenSecerts.org made that clear over the weekend, when they announced that Super PAC spending is already over the one hundred million dollar mark - and nearly 90% of that spending is for Republican candidates. What's more, thanks to the 2010 "Citizens United" decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Americans have zero legal rights to see who is behind the $121 million that conservative "non-profit" groups have spent on political advertising, so far in this election cycle.

What's more, the Center for Public Integrity has found that the two major outside political groups associated with Karl Rove - American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS - have roughly 100 major donors, with most of those being completely 100% secret.

While Republicans are certainly far and away the biggest abusers of the near-lack of campaign finance rules that now exist in the U.S. - at a generally accepted 90%-10% ratio - the Democrats have also stepped up their dark money game too. While the above the table take at Hollywood actor and activist George Clooney's recent fundraiser for the President was $15 million, the Super PAC and untraceable money originating from that event going to the President's campaign and that of other Democrats is fully expected to be worth millions and millions more to Democratic campaign coffers.

For all those Americans who think that regulations are always bad, and that - as Mitt Romney has said - "Corporations are people too,"  they need to look at what the flood of nearly unregulated money has done to our politics in America. If you're in Nebraska today, all you have to do is look at your TV or newspaper, or listen to your radio, and try to go fifteen minutes without hearing one unknown rich group of political bullies or another blasting their opponents.

As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent of the "Citzens United" case in 2010, “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”

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