Quantcast

Supreme Court Chooses Dark Money Billionaires Over Environment in Historic McCutcheon v. FEC Ruling

Energy

Environmental groups believe a large favor was handed to corporations, billionaires and the campaigns they fund when U.S. Supreme Court justices decided Wednesday to strike down overall limits on campaign contributions.

The 5-4 decision in the case of coal executive Shaun McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission (FEC) means that individual contributors no longer face a cap on how many candidates and parties they can fund in an election cycle. That unnerves environmental groups who have been fighting against the once-quiet contributions of coal and fossil fuel supporters like the Koch Brothers who fund legislators that favor anti-renewable energy policies.

Courtney Hight, director of the Sierra Club's democracy program, inspires a crowd at a rally following the decision in the Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC case. Photo credit: @sierraclub/Twitter

"The Supreme Court's decision today in McCutcheon v. FEC fundamentally contradicts the values that sustain our democracy and undermines the notion that our government functions of, by, and for the people," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote in a statement following the decision.

"To be clear, today the Court capitulated to a coal executive's demand that he and his fellow big polluters be allowed to dump millions more of their corrupt dollars into politics."

That coal executive is Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama who bristled at being unable to spread his funds to 27 congress members in 2012. Now, he and his other contributors will have no such worry.

"The McCutcheon ruling shows that the decades-long crisis with money in politics—a serious problem accelerated by Citizens United—has just been turned up another notch," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “With these two rulings, corporations and billionaires like the Koch brothers will be able to use their money to buy more influence in more places, gaining a tighter grip on our government."

Graphic credit: Center for Responsive Politics

Hauter pointed to some statistics the Center for Responsive Politics that illustrate how much influence the oil and gas industries already had on politics before Wednesday's ruling. Spending more than $145 million to lobby in Washington, oil and gas was one of the top five industries in terms of political spending. Exxon, Chevron, BP and Koch Industries top most of the annual lists of top funders within the oil and gas realm.

Without an aggregate limit, the Court allows individuals to contribute up to $3.6 million during an election cycle to benefit the parties, candidates and political action committees of his or her liking. The limit was previously $123,200.

"After decades of funding think tanks and judges to promote radical ideas equating money with speech and corporations with people, the big-money men and women who want to have the government in their pocket are at their apex," Claiborne Deming wrote in a statement on behalf of The Story of Stuff Project. "But history tells us that after hitting the top, the pendulum will begin to swing the other way."

Brune's statement exhibited a similar sense of optimism, regarding the ruling as a chance to galvanize those who disagree with it.

"This decision isn't just an egregious attempt to cede our democracy to corporate rule—it is an opportunity to organize the 91 percent of Americans who want something done about corrupt money in politics," he said. "The Supreme Court and big polluters have made it clear what side they are on.

Now, we will make clear that its the wrong side."

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

New Study Exposes Flood of Dark Money Feeding Climate Change Denial

New Report Reveals Koch Brothers Could Make $100B Profit if Keystone XL Pipeline is Built

First Potential Offshore Wind Farm in U.S. Survives Koch-backed Lawsuit, But Faces Another

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Naveena Sadasivam

It was early in the morning last Thursday, and Jonathan Butler was standing on the Fred Hartman Bridge, helping 11 fellow Greenpeace activists rappel down and suspend themselves over the Houston Ship Channel. The protesters dangled in the air most of the day, shutting down a part of one of the country's largest ports for oil.

Read More Show Less
We already have a realistic solution in the Green New Deal—we just lack the political will. JARED RODRIGUEZ / TRUTHOUT

By C.J. Polychroniou

Climate change is by far the most serious crisis facing the world today. At stake is the future of civilization as we know it. Yet, both public awareness and government action lag way behind what's needed to avert a climate change catastrophe. In the interview below, Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss the challenges ahead and what needs to be done.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
FDA

Food manufacturer General Mills issued a voluntary recall of more than 600,000 pounds, or about 120,000 bags, of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour this week after a sample tested positive for a bacteria strain known to cause illness.

Read More Show Less
Imelda flooded highway 69 North in Houston Thursday. Thomas B. Shea / Getty Images

Two have died and at least 1,000 had to be rescued as Tropical Storm Imelda brought extreme flooding to the Houston area Thursday, only two years after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Read More Show Less
Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less