Jaco: Corporate Political Ads

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Several mysterious groups are trying to buy the elections in 2012, courtesy of the United States Supreme Court. Today’s Iowa caucuses are just a warm-up for what’s coming. Iowa TV has been saturated with ads attacking Mitt Romney. Other ads praised Newt Gingrich. Others went after Ron Paul. But who paid for these ads? We have no idea.

And for that we can thank a five member majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. In one of their worst decisions since the Dred Scott case that ruled African American slaves were property and had no rights, the court ruled two years ago that corporations are people. Specifically, the court said that so-called independent expenditure political action committees could spend as much as they want on ads; without revealing the identities of whoever paid for the ads.

Most of those independent expenditure committees are run by corporations. The court’s pretzel logic ruled those corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals. In this case, free speech is defined as paid political messages. So the court ruled corporations can spend all they want, without limit to produce sleazy political messages. And they don’t have to identify who’s behind it.

Their case was brought by a conservative advocacy outfit called, Citizens United. And now that all limits are out and secrecy is legal, Citizens United and groups like it have plastered ads all over Iowa. We’ve seen a little bit of the same thing here in Missouri. An organization called Crossroads, has spent over a million dollars in the past two months on radio and TV ads attacking incumbent democratic senator Claire McCaskill.

Who or what is crossroads? The full name is Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. It’s the brain child of President George W. Bush’s top political advisor, Karl Rove. It was created to work with The U-S Chamber of Commerce, various corporations and pro-business interests to create ads attacking candidates they feel aren’t sufficiently pro-business. But who pays for the ads? We don’t know. Ah, the beauty of corporate free speech.

I’m Charles Jaco and that’s Jacology.