ADVOCACY & POLITICS
“Illegal During Watergate, Unlimited Campaign Contributions Now Fair Game.” By Peter Overby. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. November 16, 2011. The 2012 presidential campaign is already being shaped by new rules for political money. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allows corporations to jump into the presidential contest, as lower-court rulings and the Federal Election Commission provide new avenues through which corporate money can flow. The likely result: Corporate involvement in presidential politics on a scale not seen since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. The critical difference: This time, it’s legal. There are super PACs for all of the major presidential contenders. One is Make Us Great Again, which is backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry. It’s currently running ads in South Carolina announcing that Perry can deliver “conservative leadership that works.” MUGA, as it’s known, is not officially connected to Perry’s presidential operation. But as an example of how thin the line is between official and de facto ties, MUGA’s founders include Perry’s former chief of staff. “The contribution limits are pretty meaningless,” says Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, which supports stronger campaign finance laws. She says, “You can give the money you want to the candidate directly, and then you can give unlimited amounts to the super PAC.” As fundraising conduits, super PACs do have a flaw. They have to disclose corporate contributions. But the new rules have a way around that too. Donors can give to a so-called issue group that is connected to the super PAC. The super PAC discloses its donors; the issue group does not, even while running what seem like campaign ads.
“Decamping to an Office on Wall Street.” By Sophia Hollander. Wall Street Journal. November 17, 2011. Zuccotti Park may be the public face of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its spiritual heart. But many of its decisions, rallies and demonstrations have been planned in the airy atrium of 60 Wall St., a privately owned public space operated by Deutsche Bank that features soaring ceilings, glittering columns and a series of palm trees—not to mention free Wi-Fi. “It’s actually become a really important space for the movement,” said Shira Moss, a 30-year-old protester who was at 60 Wall St. on Wednesday afternoon to visit with a local school group and help plan an event for Sunday. Zuccotti Park and 60 Wall St. emerged to fill different needs, she said. For many, Zuccotti Park is “their home, it’s their community. That’s really, really different from the ‘office,’” she said. “You need both.” A spokesman for Deutsche Bank said there were no plans to stop the activists’ daily meetings. “The atrium is a public space open during the day to everyone who abides by the rules,” said spokesman Duncan King in a statement. Those rules include not sitting on the floor or being too “boisterous.” As a result, in contrast to the drums, chants and blaring signs that have characterized Zuccotti Park, a different, more ordered community has emerged at 60 Wall St., where protesters hold continuous, quiet meetings alongside workers in business suits eating their lunch, people playing chess and backgammon, and the stray tourist seeking a warm space to relax.