Category: Lobbying

Vermont Senate Votes to Overturn Citizens United

Graph by CleanSlateNow.org

The Vermont Senate voted to ask the U.S. Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment to undo the Citizens United ruling, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in which the Court declared that corporations are the equivalent of people with First Amendment free speech rights. The Citizens United ruling opened the floodgates for corporations and billionaires to start pouring huge sums of money into influencing elections at every level of government — and they have, largely anonymously. On December 8, 2011, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the “Saving American Democracy Amendment”, which would restore the ability of lawmakers to enact campaign spending limits like those that fell in the wake of Citizens United.  In early March of this year, 64 Vermont towns approved resolutions calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to counter the Citizens United ruling.  The national Move to Amend campaign is also mobilizing a grassroots campaign from coast to coast calling for a constitutional amendment to establish that corporations are not people and that the First Amendment does not protect unlimited political spending as free speech.

Billboard Campaign Promotes Marijuana Legalization in Colorado

A big new billboard has appeared right over a liquor store near Mile High Stadium in Denver that shows a mainstream, straight-laced looking woman smiling with her harms folded, saying, “For many reasons, I prefer…marijuana over alcohol. Does that make me a bad person? RegulateMarijuana.org.” The board is the first in an educational campaign by backers of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, a measure that will appear on the state’s November election. The group backing the measure seeks to educate people about the ways that marijuana is safer than alcohol, specifically that it is less addictive than alcohol and tends to cause fewer adverse health effects. Users also cannot overdose on marijuana. The measure would permit limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults, and would let state and local governments in Colorado regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana or ban marijuana sales completely within their jurisdictions. On its website, the pro-legalization campaign says, “We are not suggesting that marijuana is better than alcohol … We are simply asserting that there are many good reasons to use marijuana instead of alcohol.”

Backlash Against Limbaugh Continues

Toilet paper delivery for Missouri House Speaker Tilley

Media Matters for America is embarking on a long-term effort to further weaken bombastic radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh by peeling away advertisers from his show. The group bought $100,000 worth of radio air time to run two ads in eight major U.S. cities that already have active local campaigns to push Limbaugh off the air: Boston, Cedar Rapids, Chicago, Detroit, Macon (Georgia), Milwaukee, Seattle and St. Louis. The ads use recordings of Limbaugh making his repeated verbal attacks on Ms. Fluke to make their point.  After railing against law student Sandra Fluke by calling her a “slut” and  “prostitute” for her testimony before members of Congress about the necessity of funding contraception, Limbaugh made 46 additional personal attacks on her over the next three days.  Attacks against Limbaugh are continuing on other fronts, as well. The National Organization for Women (NOW) is also protesting Limbaugh. Members of the Missouri chapter of NOW sent hundreds of rolls of toilet paper to Missouri’s Speaker of the House, Steve Tilley (R), to encourage him to “flush Rush.” On March 5, Tilley made the decision to add Limbaugh to the Hall of Famous Missourians in the states’ capitol building. People inducted into the Hall are represented by sculpted busts displayed at the Capitol.  Numerous lawmakers have protested Limbaugh’s inclusion in the Hall, and sent letters to Tilley asking him to reconsider his decision. Currently the decision over who to include in the Hall is made solely by Missouri’s House Speaker, but Missouri Democrats are trying to change that so bipartisan approval will be required for future inductees.  In still another front in the assault on Limbaugh, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 in favor of a resolution urging L.A. television and radio broadcasters to ensure on-air hosts do not use racist or sexist slurs over public airwaves. In addition to Limbaugh’s extended and particularly vile outburst, they were also prompted to issue the resolution after KFI radio hosts of the “John and Ken Show” — and L.A. talk show –referred to Whitney Houston as a “crack ho.” The show was pulled off the air briefly as a result.

Click here to hear one of Media Matters’ radio ads against Rush Limbaugh.

“Bad Acts” Describes Tobacco Industry Interference in DOJ Case

A soon-to-be-published new book tells the hidden story of how the Bush Administration intervened to protect Big Tobacco from the 1999 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit filed under President Clinton. The book is authored by Sharon Eubanks, the DOJ attorney who headed up the team that won the multi-billion dollar Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) case against the industry, and Stanton Glantz, head of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. “Bad Acts” tells what happened behind-the-scenes — the politics, the litigation, the behavior of the tobacco industry and its lawyers as the Bush Administration worked to gut the case just as the DOJ’s team was approaching victory. The book is currently in production and will ship in mid-May. It can be ordered in hardback at $28.50 from the American Public Health Association. (The price is lower if you are an APHA member). To see a description and pre-order the book, click here.

Digital Billboard Companies Working Across U.S. to Ban Local Control

Clear Channel digital billboard advertises itself

Last year, citizens of Rapid City, South Dakota — a town besieged by billboards — passed an initiative banning construction of any more of those quick-changing, super-eye-catching digital billboards within the City. The highly popular measure passed by a 2-1 vote. But outdoor advertisers quickly retaliated by pushing a bill through South Dakota’s state legislature to block local authorities from banning “any advertising technology” within their limits. Senate Bill 157 would effectively make it illegal for local municipalities to ban digital billboards. Outdoor advertisers and digital sign manufacturer Daktronics argue such bans will cost jobs and threaten the industry’s image. South Dakotans are not alone in trying to fight digital billboard blight and the powerful advertising lobby. A similar bill to block local control over outdoor advertising was introduced in Salt Lake City, and Arizona has been fighting to ban digital billboards as well, saying they violate the state’s ban on intermittent lighting along roads. An organization called  Scenic America works to protect the quality and safety of America’s scenic roadways, and offers technical assistance for local efforts to control the spread of digital billboards, as well as other roadside blights.

Source: ScreenMediaMag.com, February 2, 2012

 

Colorado Governor Lies in Radio Ad Promoting Fracking

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

A radio ad playing in Colorado features Governor John Hickenlooper promoting the environmental safety of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the drilling process the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found responsible for contaminating groundwater in Wyoming. Hickenlooper made the ad for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the lobbying group for the oil and gas industry. In the ad, Hick claims that since 2008, “…we have not had one instance of groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing” in Colorado. Unfortunately, that claim is easy to verify as a lie. On September 13, 2011, an article ran in the Denver Post titled “Drilling spills rise in Colorado, but fines rare.” The article stated, “Colorado’s wave of gas and oil drilling is resulting in spills at the rate of seven every five days — releasing more than 2 million gallons this year of diesel, oil, drilling wastewater and chemicals that contaminated land and water.” In August, 2011, Kerr-McGee, a subsidiary of Andarko Petroleum, not once, but three times released cancer-causing benzene and other chemicals in spills that contaminated both land and water. Even a report (pdf) issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission describes the August spill as “historic,” and acknowledges that it did in fact cause groundwater contamination. The report states the COGCC assessed over $1.6 million in penalties on the drilling industry “for violations associated with spills and releases” from drilling activities in Colorado.