Supreme Injustice.

The Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon et al v Federal Election Commission is the next step in our march from democracy to plutocracy allowing the rich to dominate our political system even more than they already have. In a series of 5-4 decisions with “conservatives” in the majority, the Court has ruled that money equals free speech; that corporations are people (at least with regard to political contributions); and that there can be no limits on the amount of money the ruling class can spend on elections.

For many years, wealthy individuals and large corporations have enjoyed greater influence and access to elected representatives than ordinary citizens. With this ruling, the wealthy will be able to literally buy them. The Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelman are already spending billions through a complex network of Political Action Committees and Super PACs in order to sway our elections. Now they and other billionaires will be unleashed to spend monumental sums to elect candidates that will allow them to control Congress.

It’s fitting that this Supreme Court ruling comes on the heels of the death of Charles Keating, Jr. A financier and developer who was a friend of Ronald Reagan, Keating was indicted in the savings and loan scandal that cost the federal government billions. Prior to the failure of his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, he contributed $1.3 million to the election campaigns of five US Senators in order to buy their influence to help fend off federal regulators. After Lincoln eventually failed, Keating was charged and convicted of 73 counts of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. Although his conviction was later overturned, he eventually admitted to four counts of wire and bankruptcy fraud.

Given this latest Supreme Court ruling, there are likely to be many more Charles Keatings – those who will use their money to control tax laws; to fend off federal regulators; to eliminate regulations altogether; to scam the government and ordinary people; and to buy their way out of any legal challenges.

It has often been said that elections have consequences. It’s true. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that our democracy is now suffering the consequences of a Supreme Court majority hell-bent on unraveling our Constitution and placing us at the mercy of a government run by a privileged few…a majority given lifetime appointments by Republican presidents.

Colbert Exposes Abuses Of The 501(c)4.

Although known for his comedy, Stephen Colbert has shown an aptitude for investigative journalism that surpasses many of the so-called “legitimate” news operations. His reporting on the IRS “scandal” is but the latest example.

Long before traditional news organizations began reporting on the abuses of political PACs and Super PACs, Colbert exposed the inappropriateness of political organizations being awarded 501(c)4 status. Following the lead of Karl Rove, Sarah Palin and hundreds of right wing groups, Colbert formed his own 501(c)4 called the Colbert Super PAC SHH! in 2011. By simply signing a few papers with the help of Republican attorney and former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, Trevor Potter, Colbert legally declared his organization a non-profit and began collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Potter, he did not have to reveal the names of his donors. He did not have to adhere to spending limits. The only restriction was that he could not directly coordinate his expenditures with any candidates.

Interestingly, he never actually filed a 1024 form to request tax-exempt status from the IRS. (Of course, neither did many other Super PACs.) But now that the IRS is under investigation, Colbert realized that he, along with thousands of Tea Party groups, could file the form with the assurance that the IRS would not dare deny it while the IRS, itself, was under investigation. So Colbert filed the form under the new name Making-America-A-Better-Tea-Party-Patriot-9/12-Place-To-Constitution-America-Tea-Party-Nominally-Social-Welfare-Conservative-Political-Action-Tea-Party-Secret-Money-Liberty-I-Dare-You-To-Deny-This-Application-Of-America-Tea-Party.

Once again, Colbert has exposed the reality of 501(c)4s and the absurdity of our political system.

To be clear, the 501(c)4 designation was never intended to be used by political groups…not even by satirical groups such as Colbert’s. It was intended for use by genuine charities that serve the public interest and need to keep their donors anonymous so that the donors would not be hounded by thousands of other charities seeking funding.

But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed a torrent of political groups claiming non-profit status so that corporations could keep their political donations anonymous. Not long afterward, the Tea Party movement began swamping the already understaffed IRS with thousands of requests for non-profit status. Is it any wonder, then, that the IRS chose to target these groups for extra scrutiny? What public good did the groups serve beyond providing cover for anonymous donors who wanted to use their money to attack political opponents and affect the outcome of elections?

Whether the IRS decision to request more information was politically-motivated is still unclear. But two things are clear: The IRS should scrutinize such groups, denying 501(c)4 status to those groups that are primarily political, like…say…the Tea Party. And Stephen Colbert is a unique talent.