Tuesday, 21 October 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Money is Speech: A Musical History of Campaign Finance

Thursday, 18 October 2012 14:40 By ProPublica Staff, ProPublica | Video

Media

Here's our latest explainer video, on the storied history of money in politics. Lyrics follow.

Act I: Brown Paper Bags

"I made my mistakes, but in all my years of public life, I have never profited [from public service]. I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"I don't like all the influence of money in politics." (Mitt Romney)

When people think of Watergate they think of a break-in

But they don't mention the money that Nixon was taking

From wealthy donors to help him get reelected

Nixon paid them back in favors just like they expected

To battle corruption Congress passed a new law

Capping contributions to a candidate's haul

The source of the donations had to be disclosed too

And the FEC was formed to enforce the new rules

Some who felt the law went against the Constitution sued

Saying limits on money limited free speech too

So the courts kept the cap on how much you can donate

But said spending was unlimited by an outside group or candidate

That meant no more spending limits to promote a cause

Or to point out a rival campaign's flaws

So while candidates once snuck around with brown paper bags

From then on they raised money publicly or left it to PACs

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"I don't like all the influence of money in politics." (Mitt Romney)

 

 

Act II: Soft Money

"We should also curb the role of big money in elections by capping the cost of campaigns..." (Bill Clinton)

In the 80s and 90s, there was a new gimmick:

"Soft money" that's disclosed but had no limits

It's supposed to cover each party's expenses

But guys like Clinton used it to help their election chances

There was just one problem, Clinton's party was broke

So he asked for more money every time he spoke

And in return for the 100 million dollar cash-in

He let donors use the Lincoln Bedroom to crash in

Then the "scandal and reform" cycle happened again

And legislation was proposed by Feingold and McCain

It capped donations to parties, ending soft funds

And banned corporate/union issue ads right before elections

But with each new reform comes new loopholes

Tax exempt "527s" arose

Because they weren't explicit about whom they supported

Many still raised money without limits to thwart them

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"The rules are what they are..." (Jay Carney)

 

 

Act III: Super PACs and Non-Profits

"I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests." (Barack Obama)

But the most outside money was yet to be spent

Some argued spending limits broke the first amendment

"Corporations and unions are entitled to free speech"

They took it to court, the Supreme Court agreed.

Super PACs can raise as much money as they want

They can also use union and corporate funds

The only rule is they cannot coordinate

With a specific party or a specific candidate

But reform opponents weren't quite done yet

They found new uses for 501(c)(4) non-profits

Which are a lot like Super PACs with more mystery

They haven't had to disclose donors ever in history

Whether Republican or Democrat you might believe

That spending limits jeopardize our freedom of speech

But with each new cycle of deregulation

More money is being injected into our elections

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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Money is Speech: A Musical History of Campaign Finance

Thursday, 18 October 2012 14:40 By ProPublica Staff, ProPublica | Video

Media

Here's our latest explainer video, on the storied history of money in politics. Lyrics follow.

Act I: Brown Paper Bags

"I made my mistakes, but in all my years of public life, I have never profited [from public service]. I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"I don't like all the influence of money in politics." (Mitt Romney)

When people think of Watergate they think of a break-in

But they don't mention the money that Nixon was taking

From wealthy donors to help him get reelected

Nixon paid them back in favors just like they expected

To battle corruption Congress passed a new law

Capping contributions to a candidate's haul

The source of the donations had to be disclosed too

And the FEC was formed to enforce the new rules

Some who felt the law went against the Constitution sued

Saying limits on money limited free speech too

So the courts kept the cap on how much you can donate

But said spending was unlimited by an outside group or candidate

That meant no more spending limits to promote a cause

Or to point out a rival campaign's flaws

So while candidates once snuck around with brown paper bags

From then on they raised money publicly or left it to PACs

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"I don't like all the influence of money in politics." (Mitt Romney)

 

 

Act II: Soft Money

"We should also curb the role of big money in elections by capping the cost of campaigns..." (Bill Clinton)

In the 80s and 90s, there was a new gimmick:

"Soft money" that's disclosed but had no limits

It's supposed to cover each party's expenses

But guys like Clinton used it to help their election chances

There was just one problem, Clinton's party was broke

So he asked for more money every time he spoke

And in return for the 100 million dollar cash-in

He let donors use the Lincoln Bedroom to crash in

Then the "scandal and reform" cycle happened again

And legislation was proposed by Feingold and McCain

It capped donations to parties, ending soft funds

And banned corporate/union issue ads right before elections

But with each new reform comes new loopholes

Tax exempt "527s" arose

Because they weren't explicit about whom they supported

Many still raised money without limits to thwart them

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"I've earned every cent." (Richard Nixon)

"Money is speech." (Jeff Greenfield)

"The more speech the better." (Antonin Scalia)

"The rules are what they are..." (Jay Carney)

 

 

Act III: Super PACs and Non-Profits

"I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests." (Barack Obama)

But the most outside money was yet to be spent

Some argued spending limits broke the first amendment

"Corporations and unions are entitled to free speech"

They took it to court, the Supreme Court agreed.

Super PACs can raise as much money as they want

They can also use union and corporate funds

The only rule is they cannot coordinate

With a specific party or a specific candidate

But reform opponents weren't quite done yet

They found new uses for 501(c)(4) non-profits

Which are a lot like Super PACs with more mystery

They haven't had to disclose donors ever in history

Whether Republican or Democrat you might believe

That spending limits jeopardize our freedom of speech

But with each new cycle of deregulation

More money is being injected into our elections

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus