John Cox wants to brink dark money into the light.
Image via Neighborhood Legislature on Facebook
The 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporate and private donations to political campaigns at every level of the system. According to report from the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, “Of the $1 billion spent in federal elections by super PACs since 2010, nearly 60 percent of the money came from just 195 individuals and their spouses.” Super PACs have rapidly stolen power from the citizens who politicians are supposed to represent and handed it over to corporations and a wealthy few. The ruling also protects corporations from having to publicly answer for their donations because most political nonprofits shield them from having their “dark money” contributions disclosed to the public.
In an attempt to shed light on dark money, San Diego entrepreneur John Cox has been collecting signatures for the California isn’t for Sale campaign. This ballot measure, which he hopes to put before voters in 2016, would require state lawmakers to wear the logos of their top 10 political donors while advocating for policy on the Senate or Assembly floor. Just like NASCAR drivers wear sponsor logos on their jumpsuits, California lawmakers would be forced to visibly indicate which public or private interests they’re representing in the legislature. If the measure is approved, the California Fair Political Practices Commission will decide which donor logos are to be attached to each legislator’s suit. The measure would require those logos to appear in campaign ads as well.
Although the the ballot measure sounds slightly outlandish, to Cox it isn’t any crazier than the system it aims to improve. “This is a very serious initiative,” Cox said. “This is not a joke. If you came down from Mars and you looked at our electoral system, you’d say to yourself, ‘How dumb is this?’ You’ve got a system under which people who want something from government fund the campaigns of the people who make the decisions. How stupid is that system?”
Although it’s 100 percent legal for politicians to take money made available by Citizens United, Cox wants Californians to know who’s been bought by whom. “Money comes from wealthy companies and special interests that curry favor with elected officials,” Cox said. “It is totally legal according to the laws on the books, but they are able to wield incredible power in our state.”
(H/T Occupy Democrats)