Events

Washington, D.C. Money in Politics Forum

CED hosted a luncheon Money in Politics in a Post-Citizens United Campaign Environment from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The event brought together over 80 business leaders, policy makers and campaign finance reform advocates for an in-depth discussion on campaign finance in a political climate affected by the landmark Supreme Court Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission decision earlier this year.

After Vice President and Director of Business and Government Relations, Michael J. Petro opened the program speaking about CED’s rich history supporting campaign finance reform and introducing the panel discussants, CED Trustees and Money in Politics Subcommittee Co-Chairs Ed Kangas, Chairman and CEO (retired), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Landon Rowland, Chairman, Ever Glades Financial took time to discuss the 2010 mid-term election cycle and how it has been adversely affected by the de-regulation of campaign finance.

Landon Rowland spoke at length about the corrupting influence of money over those in higher office, and that a shift toward a less-transparent fundraising system also represents a slide into a “kleptocracy” similar to Russia’s; with rampant bribery and a lack of an independent judiciary that could severely limit future economic growth.  Ed Kangas discussed the harmful impact of a system in which politicians are forced into accepting large donations from rich and powerful special interests to stay in office, and called for political leaders to become as concerned with the well-being of future citizens of the United States as they are with guaranteeing votes in the present. Both speakers agreed that the solution was for voters to address and resist the idea that one can “buy” elections, and that implementing a transparent system based on small voter donations matched with funds from a public coffer is necessary to ensure a healthy future for the government and our country.

Following their remarks, Sam Rodgers, Communications Director, Zogby International spoke about a recent poll that CED commissioned with over 300 business leaders from around the country. The findings suggested that the majority of business leaders believe that corporations have at least some influence over government through their political donations and that there is pressure on the business community to make contributions in order to gain access to the legislative process.

Closing the event, a panel of experts including Fred Wertheimer, Founder and Director, Democracy 21; Jeanne Cummings, Assistant Managing Editor in Charge of Enterprise, POLITICO; and Anthony Corrado, Professor of Government, Colby College spoke about the 2010 election cycle and how they felt it may have been adversely affected by the Citizens United decision. Wertheimer spoke of a “sea change” on November 2nd that will stem from a political landscape where corporations and labor unions are free to make contributions to candidates without being held accountable for trying to “purchase” legislative outcomes. Cummings discussed the harmful potential for corporations to begin to support candidates based on a particular legislative interest rather than a party affiliation, that the political landscape is at risk of being dominated by a subset of “corporate parties,” and Corrado spoke about Citizens United heralding a new era in politics in which there is increased pressure placed on corporate, non-profit and union organizations to engage in a “political spending arms-race” in an effort to keep competing interests from buying legislation. The program ended with a question and answer period that allowed audience members to interact more fully with all of the event participants.

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