March 7, 2012
I am deeply concerned about the influence of corporate money on our electoral process. Already we are seeing billion-dollar presidential campaigns – and the governor of the state in which I reside financed his own election with $70 million of his own money.
The smell of money is at the root of all politics. Even at local levels, news coverage of most nonpolitical races (e.g., county sheriff) typically focuses on the levels of contributions each candidate has raised.
It is precisely because voters are so easily influenced by the strength of political contributions, that public reporting of large political contributions is so necessary. The integrity of our political process cannot be maintained if highly capitalized organizational entities (such as publicly traded corporations) can spend money on political activity in secret and without limit.
To quote words of James Madison featured so prominently on the front of the James Madison Building in Washington, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
It takes an electorate ignorant of their manipulators to become motivated to vote favorably for corporate tax breaks, tax loopholes and corporate bailouts. And what would corporate interests do with such tax breaks? Hire more employees? Or might they instead raise executive salaries and make still larger political contributions?
I urge the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to publicly disclose (e.g., via EDGAR) all their political spending. Thank you for considering my comment.