Unbridled corporate power poses threats to democracy, undermines public interest

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  • Dale Eisman

RANCHO MIRAGE, CA — America’s vision of government of, by and for the people stands in peril as corporate political spending unleashed by last year’s Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case – and wielded by hidden donors like Charles and David Koch – threatens to take drown out the voices of ordinary voters and hijack government to serve special interests, a panel of reform activists asserted today.

“Like all Americans, the Kochs are entitled to their political views and activism” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “But investing millions of dollars through shadowy organizations to advance a policy and political agenda that sacrifices public health and safety for their bottom line is a matter of profound public concern.”

“When corporate captains, big-spending political donors and top elected officials, party leaders and federal judges get together behind closed doors to map out secret election and policy strategies, our democracy is in crisis,” Edgar said.

“We came to Rancho Mirage today, while the Koch brothers and their guests were meeting behind a veil of secrecy nearby, for an open discussion of the challenges that unbridled corporate power poses to our democracy,” Edgar said.

“Uncloaking the Kochs,” an hour-long panel discussion, focused on how Koch Industries, the Koch family and the array of billionaire donors and groups they’ve founded and funded advance an agenda that enhances Koch’s bottom line but dirties our air and water, undermines public health and invites corruption in our politics.

Along with Edgar, panelists included Van Jones, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California-Irvine; Lee Fang, an investigative journalist at the Center for American Progress; and DeAnn McEwen, co-President of the California Nurses Association.

The panel was followed by a rally organized by dozens of national and California organizations.

The Common Cause forum came as the Koch brothers convened a meeting of about 200 corporate executives, conservative political operatives and officeholders at the posh Rancho Las Palmas resort. The Kochs do not release their guest list, but attendees at their past “seminars” have included Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, governors, members of Congress, conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and business leaders.

Streaming video of the “Uncloaking the Kochs” panel is available at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/common-cause-live.