Letter: Dark money and the perfection of greed

Posted

To the editor:

Of all the tools that our billionaire friends have available to exploit democracy, their favorite is dark money. Lobbying and political contributions are child’s play.

Dark money typically flows through a network of “nonprofits,” “charitable foundations,” “social welfare groups,” “think tanks,” etc. This money flow is anonymous, making it difficult to trace but also revealing its insidiousness. 

There are now hundreds of these organizations throughout the network that push a coordinated “wealth agenda.” Their numbers create the appearance of grassroots consensus across the country when in fact they are primarily created and funded by only several dozen “philanthropic propagandists.” To drive their agenda home, these organizations — with awesomely patriotic or community-centric names — fund media pundits, contribute to newspapers, generate manipulative studies, buy custom-made curriculums, and distribute unlimited “non-political” ads to take out the opposition (or even their own if the agenda isn’t rigorously followed).

The same few sources of money use their network to continually push against minimum wage increases, social security, health care reform (and those government death panels), climate change (but oddly, no other science), and the redistribution of wealth (now that they’ve seized it). They educate us on the importance of privatizing education (and profiting from it), protecting the free market (now that they control it), minimizing government regulation and agencies (unless they protect their assets or prevent competition), continued tax breaks for the rich (because decades of trickle-down economics will soon pay off), and the need to end non-existent yet rampant election fraud.

Their message has always been that our elected government is incompetent, corrupt, taking our money and liberties away, and impeding our success. They reframe their interests as ours, tugging at our heartstrings, promising that they will tear down our atrocious government. The more they gut and infiltrate it, the worse it gets, giving them more to complain about and increasing their influence.

Forty years of continual messaging (such as oppressive Wall Street regulations and the bullying EPA and FDA are hurting families and small businesses), gradually shifts our values and eases us into compliance, creating, in some of us, a deep-rooted contempt for our government. 

One thing they conveniently don’t discuss is how our nation’s wealth has drastically migrated to them — leaving less for the rest of us to fight over. To conceal this, we are told to blame our government, neighbors, “takers," and vulnerable groups in our society. Our subtle differences are magnified and exploited while our many similarities (including that we are being conned) are washed over. The press barely helps since they profit greatly on a never-ending supply of political and “social” ads — investigative reporting would only slow the cash flow.

Dark money also supports astroturfing, gerrymandering on steroids (Project REDMAP), ALEC, a corrupt Supreme Court, a dysfunctional Congress, etc. Each of these deserve our time to understand — we owe that to our children.

This is not the natural evolution of American democracy — it is the evolution of greed, perfected by an extraordinarily small number of extraordinarily selfish individuals.

Not so anonymously,

Ian Mitchell

95 Dianne Ave.

Portsmouth

letters, opinion

Comments

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joe sousa

So that's how the Clinton Foundation worked. Dark Money who knew?

Friday, February 17 | Report this
joe sousa

U.S. National Debt Clock : Real Time

www.usdebtclock.org

US National Debt Clock : Real Time U.S. National Debt Clock

Friday, February 17 | Report this
imitchell

Yes Joe - That is how the Clinton Foundation gets a lot of its money. Their donors are posted on their website (but I *think* they have to get permission from the donor in order to identify them).

The important point is what they do with their money - how that is interpreted is, of course, based on one's political leanings. The Clinton Foundation actually performs most of the charitable work itself, it is not so much a conduit to pass money down to other entities.

My piece was more along the lines of the smaller organizations and surrogates that pop up as needed (to subtly push a larger agenda) and are ultimately funded by a small number of individuals that have profit-based motives.

It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if we did away with the concept of Dark Money (not to mention the concept of money=speech) across the board.

Saturday, February 18 | Report this
joe sousa

Political speech is Free Speech, Campaign laws are strict and requires reporting of all expenditures . The term "DarkMoney" is used to make people think the spending is corrupt. Miss leading people also falls under free speech. Both side use propaganda to promote their cause.

Sunday, February 19 | Report this
imitchell

Hi Joe - I certainly respect your opinion, though I am not sure why one would embrace being mislead by nameless people.

Campaign Laws don't necessarily apply to the concept of Dark Money.

For additional information you can look into:

- 501(C) organizations

- How "money = speech" came into being (and the direct link to the "Lewis Powell Memo")

- The unprecidented way in which the Supreme Court came to its Citizen United decision (sending the plaintiff back to rescope the case)

- The supreme court McCutcheon case

- Dark Money has been around for quite some time - the recent SCOTUS campaign law cases (esp Citizens United) just made things easier.

Here is a great and very recent example of dark money preventing the will of the voters (it should not be surprising that the vote was to reduce corruption in their state. Dark Money tried to influence the vote and are now trying to work around the voters victory on election day)

http://bulletin.represent.us/south-dakota-gop-uses-emergency-powers-repeal-anti-corruption-act-passed-voters/

Sunday, February 19 | Report this
joe sousa

Signup | MoveOn.org

https://act.moveon.org/signup/signup

A joint website of MoveOn.org Civic Action and MoveOn.org Political Action. MoveOn.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on ...

Dark Money ? depends on ones perspective.

Monday, February 20 | Report this
imitchell

While Moveon.org is a 501(c)4, that does not necessarily mean it is a "dark money" organization. The main reasons are:

1 - it is very well-known organization

2 - it took me a matter of minutes to find a list of 4,200 donors (and their affiliation/job) that donated over $200.00 in 2016 (and I can go back many years)

3 - one their efforts is to actually end "dark money"

Good luck finding the the top donors to the Government Transparency Fund, The Donors Trust, or the Spur Education Fund.

You have pointed out two left-leaning non-profits, but this is not so much about Right vs. Left. My previously provided example in South Dakota hopefully makes that clear.

South Dakota is a Republican stronghold. On election day, and on the same ballot, South Dakotans voted for President Trump and for a measure that would reign in corruption in their state. This was despite an influx of cash primarily from fossil fuel interests that pushed against the measure.

After the measure passed, the Republican legislature (under the thumb of dark money) looked Republican and Democrat voters in they eye and said no. They did this by declaring a state of emergency that allowed them to say no and that prevented a veto re-vote.

I guess one could say that Dark Money is a matter of perspective - some people want a corrupt government and some don't.

Wednesday, February 22 | Report this

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