There’s an interesting operation and trial going on in Rhode Island right now. The operation is titled “Dollar Bill” and is being lead by the Federal Prosecutors office. Thus far they’ve gotten a conviction against Senator John Celona of North Providence and are actively investigating other politicians including the Senate President among others.
At the moment there is a trial going on against two CVS Vice Presidents who approved the payments for Celona who in turn shepherded CVS sponsored legislation through the chamber. Such legislation included opposition to pharmacy choice bills then in the chamber.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all you need to do is go to the Lobbytracker page on the Secretary of State’s office web site and browse lobbying entities. For a good example, check out last years activity of one Bernard Healey aka Rev. Bernard Healey of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.
Note that bill 5368, that was the Marriage Equality bill last year. Unfortunately the reports for this year haven’t been posted yet but I just know that they’ll oppose all things to do with gay marriage.
Anyhow the point I’m going after is summed up nicely in this paragraph from the Providence Journal article on the trial of the CVS employees:
Records from 2001 showed that Celona’s monthly “consultation fee” was paid from the same account as contributions to national political groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the House Senate Republican dinner, the House Majority Leader’s Fund (in connection with a dinner with then majority leader, U.S. Rep. Dick Armey of Texas), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a contribution that was made through Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
In essence this tells you everything you need to know. Corporations are party blind in a sense. THey’ll give money to Democrats and Republicans alike. Their only criterion is will that politician do their bidding. You and I allegedly have no access to these people. But in a sense we do.
With just a small amount of effort we could make our elected representatives very uncomfortable about taking money from Political Action Committees, which are nothing but ways for corporations to influence the political sphere. Don’t get me wrong, there are some PAC’s that aren’t corporate puppets but they are few and far between.
I’ve once read that in European states the like Germany and France, the government is afraid of the people whereas here in the U.S. we are afraid of the government. We should turn that around, make our voice heard even if it means taking an hour a week to phone, email or write our representatives at the local, state and federal levels in order to make OUR will heard.
Of course the down side to that is something the fundamentalists have seized upon. There is power in numbers. But their numbers include those who only think about gay marriage and abortion. Some of them don’t realize that there are bigger problems facing us.
What we need is organizations of enlightened people. There is some activity on that front what with Moveon.org, ActBlue, People for the American Way, etc. They make it really easy to be politically active. But a large portion of the population has allowed their anger to be deflected and distorted. Instead they cling to sports competitions, guns, cars, etc. when the world around them is crumbling down.