When the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United ruling January 21, 2010 that cleared the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash in political campaigns with very little transparency, it even prompted the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to mention it in his State of the Union address. It elicited the childish, “nuh uh” look and utterance from Justice Alito — that instead of sparking a debate about the decision, made the media pontificate about whether it was appropriate for the President to mention the ruling and whether Alito’s response was appropriate. To me it signaled that the President really does care about the influence money has in our politics.
Now I know the haters on the left and right will trot out the old, President Obama has gotten a lot of money from big business meme, but when you look at what they base it on, it’s people who work for big business who are giving to President Obama. And yes, some of the leaders of business as well. And in their criticism lies an assumption that everyone who works for a big business is conservative and/or Republican. And that those employees, being all conservative, must be giving to President or candidate Obama because he is conservative too or that they are buying influence with him. They opine that anyone with money must be conservative and therefore if they give to a Democrat, then Democrats must be just like Republicans. It’s quite a twisted line of reasoning when you break it down. It’s just one example of the simplistic logic that permeates our media and punditry.
I had a real world example in my family. My step father was a successful lawyer and businessman, yet he donated to and voted for Democrats all his life. He also was a philanthropist and gave a lot of his money to many different causes and was modest in how he spent money. I go back to a recent post where I derided the concept of generalizing, where it is so much easier for people to just lump everyone together and attack that lump, instead of deal with real people with varying opinions. The same holds true for those who want to vilify everyone who works on Wall Street or for an evil corporation.
I’ve stayed away from the Anthony Weiner scandal because I’m not really into that sort of sensational, who-gives-a-shit-anyway story. I’m certainly disappointed in Anthony Weiner for not being able to control himself and sacrificing all the great work he has been doing for his uncontrollable urges. Fucking men who can’t control themselves just piss me off.
But it is rather interesting that the timing of the release of the story, which was on the shelf for nearly a month, just happened to be on the same Friday that Clarence Thomas released his updated disclosure forms that showed some very shady stuff. If you aren’t aware, Andrew Breitbart is a big defender of Clarence Thomas and many think the timing of this release is very suspicious. From Karoli at Crooks and Liars…
Does anyone remember hearing that Justice Thomas released his financial disclosures on May 27th? Here’s a little tidbit for you: His disclosures indicate a direct cash investment of between $15,000 and $25,000 into Ginni Thomas’ Liberty Consulting lobby firm…the one that she started after resigning from the Liberty Central Tea Party astroturf group. The disclosures also indicate payment from Liberty Central and Liberty Consulting to Ginni Thomas in 2010, post Citizens United.
And Anthony Weiner was pushing hard on Thomas to recuse himself from any ACA-related lawsuits before Andrew Breitbart sprung into action.
This timeline is interesting:
Sept 9, 2009: Citizens United argued.
Nov 6, 2009: Virginia Thomas launches her new Liberty Central 501(c)(4) organization, which raises 550K in 2009.
Jan 21, 2010: Citizens United decided.
Virginia Thomas announces that Liberty Central would “accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.”
November 14, 2010: Liberty Central announces that Virginia Thomas would be leaving the organization.
November 16, 2010: Liberty Consulting incorporated in the state of Virginia.
February 4, 2011: Politico reports that Virginia Thomas had launched Liberty Consulting.
Going back a little further with the Citizen’s United case, which in my opinion, put the final stake in our democracy, we can see that Ginni and Clarence Thomas have clearly benefitted from his rulings on the Supreme Court. There ought to be a law….oh, wait, you mean there is a law. From Paul Campos at The Daily Beast…
In fact Ginni Thomas was paid nearly $700,000 by the Heritage Foundation, a “conservative think tank,” between 2003 and 2007, as well as an undisclosed amount by another lobbying group in 2009. Justice Thomas’ false statements regarding his wife’s income certainly constitute a misdemeanor, and quite probably a felony, under federal law. (They would be felonies if he were prosecuted under 18. U.S.C. 1001, which criminalizes knowingly making false statements of material fact to a federal agency. This is the law Martha Stewart was convicted of breaking by lying to investigators.)
It’s unlikely that Thomas will be disbarred, and even less likely that he’ll be prosecuted, even though his conduct has been outrageous. That Thomas failed to disclose his wife’s sources of income is not a trivial technicality: His wife’s employment created excellent grounds for requiring him to excuse himself from hearing the Citizens United case, which overturned federal campaign-finance laws—much to the delight of Ginni Thomas’ right-wing paymasters, who are now freer than ever before to purchase the best laws money can buy. (Federal judges are required to recuse themselves from hearing any case in which they or their spouses have any financial interest.)
But of course, Clarence Thomas clearly thinks he is above the law. Remember when he attended secret right-wing fundraising events with is buddy fellow Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Alito. ThinkProgress has the details…
A few months ago, ThinkProgress launched a series of investigations into relationship of the right flank of the Supreme Court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia — with corporate donors and Republican operatives. In October, we revealed, through a document obtained from Koch Industries, that Scalia and Thomas had attended secret right-wing fundraisers organized by Charles Koch to coordinate political strategy. ThinkProgress has now discovered more events attended by conservative Supreme Court justices.
I point you to Allan Brauer’s excellent piece at Angry Black Lady Chronicles where he gives us the details about Justice Thomas’ history. The story was written prior to Weiner’s new revelations yesterday, but it’s still very valid. Go check it out for lots of details on the Thomas family and their politics. I also recommend Joy’s piece at The Reid Report.
And the last thing I’ll add about the above is that ELECTIONS MATTER. When assholes like Glenn Greenwald, Adam Green and Jane Hamsher start trying to paint the Democratic Party as just like the Republican Party, you should spit in their face and scream ELECTIONS MATTER! The only way we will ever get our democracy back is if we elect Democrats to all levels of government, even if they aren’t perfect, for the simple reason that we need to swing the pendulum back towards justice in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.