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Accountability Rules

A recent political cartoon showed an enormous mountain of cash. Uncle Sam sits on top of the pile digging with a shovel. The caption: “There’s got to be a democracy in here somewhere.” The word “dollarocracy” comes to mind.

Our political system is for sale—by both parties. Billionaire donors back candidates like race horses. Did you know that almost all the campaign contributions to Super PACS come from about 200 people? Or, that all of the campaign contributions of more than $200 come from just a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the population?

Meanwhile, in Washington there are about 12,000 lobbyists—that’s 23 for every member of Congress. This undue influence of money has a corrosive effect on our political system. We all want politicians to work for people, not for their corporate sponsors. We all want fair and clean elections. The Center for Public Integrity seeks to provide much needed transparency and accountability, tracking this onslaught of cash, and shining a light on both the sources of this funding and what the donors are looking for in return.

Until next week,

Bill Buzenberg
Executive Director

Obama, Dems dominate GOP in April fundraising
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee outraised Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee by a nearly 2-1 margin in April, which counters media reports that indicate the two camps are running even. The Obama campaign raised $25.7 million for the month, more than double Romney’s $11.7 million. The president’s campaign reported $115 million cash on hand compared with Romney’s $9.2 million. The DNC reported raising $14.3 million for the month and had $24.3 million cash on hand compared with the RNC’s $11.4 million raised and $34.8 million cash on hand. The combined total for the Democrats was $40.1 million compared with $23.2 million for the Republicans.

Ameritrade founder’s Nebraska contribution worries watchdogs
In the aftermath of last week’s Republican U.S. Senate primary in Nebraska, campaign finance watchdogs are concerned about the role businessman Joe Ricketts played in helping underdog state Sen. Deb Fischer secure the GOP nomination. Ricketts, the founder of the Omaha-based online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, was behind a $250,000 last-minute super PAC ad buy designed to boost Fischer’s prospects.

Fatal gas explosion goes unpunished by OSHA
Early on the morning of Sept. 3, 2009, Nicholas Adrian Revetta left the Pittsburgh suburb of Pleasant Hills and drove 15 minutes to a job at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Plant, a soot-blackened industrial complex on the Monongahela River. He never returned home. It’s the first in our new Hard Labor series.

Los Angeles school police citations draw federal scrutiny
A Center analysis of police citations against public school students in Los Angeles is getting federal attention. We found that Los Angeles’ school officers issued more than 33,500 tickets to students between 10 and 18 years old over three years. That worked out to about 30 citations a day, every day.

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