Rackets Science: Obomnibus II, or The Influence Peddlers Protection Act of 2015 (Pt. 2)

Rackets Science: Obomnibus II, or The Influence Peddlers Protection Act of 2015 (Pt. 2)
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Obama's presidency has made government far more corrupt. Obama wipes away a tear for the child victims of gun violence at a press conference, but he did not lift a finger during his presidency to change the system of corruption that allows NRA lobbyists to buy fatal gun policies opposed by an overwhelming majority of voters. What can President Sanders do to end political corruption that Obama would not?

[see Part 1 for Chapter 1. Christmastime for Plutocrats, and Chapter 2. The Rake for Politicians)]


Part 1 of this two-part series describes President Obama's now annual outsized Christmas gifts to Wall Street, exchanged in return for historic increases in the potential rake for politicians from selling public policy to private investors.

A year ago, in exchange for insuring predictably enormous casino capitalist losses in the next too-big-to-fail banking crisis, Obama got an historic ten-fold increase from Congress in the amount such plutocrats can give to political parties. This raised to $5.1 million the combined sum the fattest cats can be asked during each federal election cycle to contribute directly to parties and politicians. The virtual abandonment of any limits on money in politics, aside from this slight token inconvenience of limits on the direct purchases made by a small handful of the very biggest plutocrats, has caused the record-setting corruption of the 2016 cycle.

This past year Obama came under mounting pressure to use his executive powers to address a different aspect of the problem of money in politics created by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. As president Obama enjoyed several sources of authority to require disclosure of secret "dark money" political investments made by government contractors after Citizens United legalized "independent" corporate electioneering expenditures. Instead, at the end of the year, in exchange for his tax-expenditure give-aways comparable in size to one year's whole civilian budget, Obama chose to open even wider this enormous conduit for the illegal contractor kickbacks to politicians which dark money channels shield from effective law enforcement.

On December 18, 2015, Obama got Congress to revoke his existing executive powers to require disclosure of the dark money political investments by government contractors, by other SEC-regulated corporations, and by the IRS-regulated non-profits that launder them. In this way Obama allows the corrupt federal procurement system to continue generating, in violation of unenforced federal law, about $2 billion annually in political kickbacks paid to arrange for military boondoggles, un-auditable payments, no-bid contracts and other such rackets for raiding the public treasury by means of government procurement contracts with private businesses.

The importance of the procurement system, aside from its $500 billion size and corresponding potential for corruption, is that well-established constitutional law had otherwise exempted it from the systemically corrupt "money is speech" jurisprudence of the Buckley v Valeo line of cases. That expressly includes the Citizens United case which created the dark money loophole that since 2010 Obama has refused to close by using his now-revoked powers. By a stroke of the pen Obama could have largely satisfied the popular demand to "overturn Citizens United," since most corporations that make Citizens United political investments are also involved in government procurement.

By using his pen instead to sign the Obamnibus law that revokes these presidential powers Obama has stopped those pesky activists, and some fellow Democrats, from spoiling his valedictory year by demanding his use of executive powers to fulfill some modest part of his campaign promise to fight money in politics. This somewhat complex tale demonstrates Obama's historic role in completing the systemic corruption of American politics. Obama had taken over a system in which corruption was increasingly legalized since the Supreme Court's first "money is speech" decision,Buckley v Valeo (1976), (1976), and accelerated since 2006 by annual plutocratic Roberts Court decisions. Obama has presided over and facilitated the spread of that corruption to corners of government not reachable by the Court. While lending lip-service opposition to the disembodied soundbites of "dark money" and "Citizens United," Obama has resisted doing anything to upset the plutocracy. He has occasionally endorsed the diversionary propaganda that a futile constitutional amendment is necessary to "overturn Citizens United," but without venturing any slight action to that end.

Obama can leave office with an unbroken record of not only resisting all demands for reform but having considerably strengthened the plutocracy he led since 2009.

Part 2 below considers two important implications of the new dark money regime that Obama institutionalized in 2015.

Chapter 3 considers the Supreme Court's false premise which assumes the existence of a robust disclosure regime. This assumption provided the only pillar the Supreme Court has offered since Buckley to support the teetering legal edifice it erected to disguise its politically motivated legalization of plutocratic corruption. Now Obama's "Dark Money Promotion Act" (appended) has made disclosure not just unenforced and mostly ineffective anyway where corruption is systemic, but also a remedy unlawful for use where it might be effective.

What slight intellectual justification the Supreme Court offered for its treasonous act of mandating the overthrow of democracy by systemic corruption now lies in shambles. The incompetent architect of Citizens United has confessed as much.

Chapter 4 addresses the question of what can we citizens do about that collapse of any intellectual support for the Court's "money is speech" jurisprudence, knowing that the plutocratic justices who control the Court will do nothing to repair the mess they have made. This chapter presents a comprehensive six-point outline of reforms that a Sanders Presidency would need to pursue in order to get our democracy back. The list includes the essential reform of removing from politics, and limiting to their proper judicial duties, the Supreme Court majority that has proven themselves so highly effective at building plutocracy but incompetent at legal construction. These six proposals emphatically do not include advocacy of a futile constitutional amendment "to overturn Citizens United" nor the other underwhelming soundbites that Sanders currently offers.

This chapter also describes where funding could be found for implementing such a reform program. A $2 billion "democracy program" appropriation provided by Obama's "Influence Peddlers Protection Act of 2015" is currently used for hiring beltway bandits to proselytize U.S.-style, systemically corrupt plutocracy in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. This chapter contemplates how this money would better accomplish its stated goals if redirected to fund the reform agenda needed to restore democracy in the United States before pretending to instruct the rest of the world how its done.

Part 2

3. Buckley-era Democracy: Supreme Incompetence

Obama calls these new anti-disclosure, pro-corruption provisions contained in Obomnibus II "American democracy" at work. When laid-back Obama actually goes to the trouble of personally taking his propaganda game to the public, it can be expected that his deeds will be the opposite of whatever he says. Telling the truth is not what he is paid for. These anti-disclosure provisions Obama got from Congress are in fact very clear sign posts that, as Jimmy Carter teaches, democracy is dead in the United States, except on paper.

When the law itself can be used to step in and prohibit rather than promote anti-corruption measures, the malady is clearly systemic. In a democracy, elected officials are not able to get away with passing laws mandating that their formerly illegal bribe-taking and influence-peddling - now legalized by a plutocratic majority of judicial supremacists on the Supreme Court who these same officials have failed to restrain within their proper judicial powers - can be conducted in secret as a matter of law. Ari Fleischer's satisfied comment that "Bush's 4th term continues" under Obama applies to more than just Guantanamo, secret renditions, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, extra-judicial assassination of citizens, droneslaughter of non-citizens, torture, and other crimes involved in perpetuating the profit center provided by the greater permanent war.

Voters should ask, is the United States more corrupt now than it was eight years ago? Than 16 years ago? 24 years ago? Not since Jimmy Carter has a president waged an authentic campaign for more democracy and less corruption.

The Supreme Court has constructed its "money is speech" jurisprudence since Buckley v Valeo (1976), and as recently as McCutcheon (2014), on the premise that disclosure of the money passing hands between plutocrats and politicians is the cynosure of all remedies for the political corruption that such conduct clearly implicates. Their theory is that virtually every politician, and especially their parties, can be mired in such money while being instructed by lobbyists' on what to do to keep it flowing, without risking any corruption so long as the transactions are disclosed at some point. NYT editors complain that Citizens United "blithely pronounced, 'A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before today.' Effective disclosure exists?" The answer to the NYT editors is: no, not since Citizens United relied on disclosure as the nation's sole defense against political corruption under the Constitution, but somehow forgot to make disclosure constitutionally mandatory, at least for the otherwise illegal corporate electioneering that the Court legalized in that case.

The Roberts 5 theory about the efficacy of disclosure both demonstrated the Court's total theoretical and practical ignorance on the subject of political corruption. The Court's promise for disclosure has been proven factually wrong in the 40 years lived experience of the country as it succumbed to ever deepening and concentrated systemic corruption after Buckley. This occurred within a disclosure regime. NYT complains that the theoretical importance of disclosure did not assure the continuation of that regime after Citizens United. Instead the Court just blithely assumed that in a system already thoroughly corrupted by 2010 effective disclosure rules would somehow appear on their own to fill in the enormous new loophole the Court had unwittingly carved for independent corporate "dark money" expenditures for which no disclosure regime then existed.

In fact, the incompetence of the five justices who control the Supreme Court is worse than that. Disclosure does theoretically work in a system where corruption is illegal and regularly prosecuted. But disclosure has no useful function after corruption is legalized or otherwise tolerated. Then corruption becomes systemic as it has been in U.S. politics after Buckley v Valeo (1976) legalized transfers of money to or for politicians as some kind of protected "speech." Its bizarre justification was that some of the proceeds of the crime of political corruption might be spent on paid political propaganda in addition to "the political consultant racket." No such Robin Hood defense exists to legalize any other crime except the former crime of political corruption. And the Court has never deigned to inform the country, with more than Buckley's dishonest shell-game logic, exactly where in the Constitution does it require that an exception be made for political corruption as if it were less important than any other crime which is prosecuted no matter where the proceeds are spent. After this ruling was made in Buckley, disclosure could make little difference, since enough politicians are on the take to consistently retain control of government where corruption is systemic. Knowledge from disclosure of the pervasive but legal corruption entails no effective choice by voters. Only a rare politician survives who is not embedded in the corrupt system.

Nevertheless, but for Obama's opposition, disclosure mandated by administrative rules could have been effective to protect the government procurement system. This is only because, as discussed in Ch. 2, the government procurement function fell outside the ambit of the Buckley line of cases that legalized political corruption in all other areas. Some stand-alone operations with non-discretionary ritualized processes, like say Social Security or procurement, can remain outside the systemic corruption of elected officials.

Now that Obama and Congress have actively foreclosed disclosure of unlimited independent corporate and other expenditures, not just passively refused to mandate disclosure by law or administrative regulation, the whole rotten intellectual edifice of the Supreme Court's Buckley "money is speech" jurisprudence collapses on itself. The Court has no justification to support Buckley, except its shell-game Robin-Hood logic that somewhere in his four words "the freedom of speech" James Madison clearly intended to plant a poison pill for democracy, which at the beginning of the country's third century would secretly emerge from the weird hermeneutics of five plutocratic justices of no particular distinction as a newfound "freedom to corrupt."

If these five justices consider disclosure to be what prevents political payoffs from corrupting politics, then the absence of such disclosure will necessarily result in such corruption so long as the otherwise illegal payoff system continues to be legalized by the Court. This should cause the Roberts 5 to reconsider whether those state and federal anti-corruption laws they discovered to be unconstitutional for no particularly good reason that can be found in the text of the Constitution were actually required after all to prevent the overthrow of democracy. Without democracy, "the freedom of speech" which is falsely alleged to include the freedom to corrupt, is itself without purpose.

Surveying the wreckage caused by his judicial engineering that omitted the central pillar that was, in his view, supposed to keep the whole edifice of democracy standing, the grossly negligent architect of Citizens United, Justice Anthony Kennedy, confessed his flawed legal construction is "not working the way it should." Of course the plutocracy is working just as intended, Can we sue the architect for causing the ensuing demolition of democracy? What is the proper punishment for helping to destroy the country's most valuable cultural possession? Just when does Kennedy and his gang of fellow plutocrats plan to take his disastrous decision back to the drawing boards to make sure that anti-corruption law is "working the way it should?" So many questions, so few answers.

4. Self Help: Democracy in Exile

A strangely discordant note from its main theme of unrelenting corruption can be found in the Influence Peddlers Protection Act. This same law in which Congress paid off plutocrats with enormous tax expenditures and other profit opportunities, and which further tightened the firm grip of plutocracy by prohibiting SEC, IRS or government procurement regulations from interfering with the plutocrats' right to keep their "dark money" investments in politicians secret from the public (though not from the politicians, who are expected to reciprocate), this very same law also happens to incongruously contain a provision that seeks to promote democracy, not in the U.S., but abroad.

The segregationist, propagandist, warmongering Woodrow Wilson would have liked this provision. Wilson diverted attention from the lack of democracy in the Jim Crow, Gilded Age, politically repressive United States that he presided over a century ago by creating a new national purpose for justifying foreign war. Lacking any significant national interest in going to war against Germany in April 1917, Wilson substituted the excuse of spreading democracy abroad.

Fighting a war for the unconditional surrender of Germany on behalf of the British royalty accomplished nothing for the United States. It squandered blood and treasure in what evolved into two world wars due to the draconian Versailles Peace Treaty Wilson helped negotiate. Wilson had made such a treaty possible by intervening in a European military stalemate in blatant violation of the good advice which George Washington's farewell address made part of the nation's heritage. Until Wilson created a new heritage of military intervention unrelated to national defense.

Just as Wilson's misdirected efforts resulted not in democracy but in creating Nazi Germany, which learned about the power of state propaganda and political repression, not to mention Jim Crow racism, from the man who defeated Germany in WWI, it is ludicrous to think that the systemically corrupt United States, still struggling with the same fundamental issues of democracy that troubled Wilson's era, could be capable of spreading any near facsimile of democracy elsewhere in the world today.

Throughout its history and especially in its current second Gilded Age, New Jim Crow era since 1976, with its historically concentrated mass media propaganda system, the United States has struggled with difficulty to live up to its democratic traditions and the principles in its own Constitution. But under this guise of promoting democracy abroad, a group of beltway bandits do run businesses as government contractors for USAID to do just that. These operators are as capable of recycling kickbacks to politicians who appropriate the money for these programs with the best of the military industrial complex war profiteers. Indeed, some of them are the most successful of the MIC profiteers.

The two countries where the United States has had the most unbridled influence and spent the most money and time fashioning a new government after toppling the old one are Afghanistan and Iraq. Both countries have been reconstructed, according to an accepted global index, as two of the very most bottom-of-the-barrel corrupt governments in the world. Countries outside the region that figures in AIPAC's foreign policy shopping list, South America generally, grew gradually more democratic in the past generation as a result of being largely neglected by the United States. Some good has come from its distracting obsession with its "two toxic 'special relationships' ... Israel and Saudi Arabia" in the Middle East and its new post-communism official enemy, radical jihadism.

The influence of the US abroad is typically negative because those ultimately in charge of such matters, like Hillary Clinton was as Secretary of State, remain as totally clueless about what it would take to build a democratic foreign government that is not undermined by systemic corruption as she is about what it would take to reform the systemic corruption of the U.S. government. A corrupt plutocracy pretextually using democratic forms is what politicians in 'the Clinton school of economics" -- the plutocrats' favorites who rose in politics after corruption was legalized by Buckley v Valeo (1976) - actually mean in their Orwellian use of the word "democracy." As Richard Falk explains these operatives use the term "democracy" as merely "Washington's code word for integration into its version of neoliberal globalization," "neoliberal" itself being a euphemism for a corrupt plutocracy and the policies it buys.

Sara Chayes describes the obvious "outcome [that] ... profound corruption" of the forms of democracy has reached: "the point that the very notion of democracy is now discredited." As a first-hand witness of Hillary Clinton's specific personal responsibility for perpetuating corruption in Afghanistan Chayes wrote: "If the obstacle preventing more meaningful action against abusive corruption wasn't active U.S. complicity, it sure looked like it." Sarah Chayes, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (2015) 147. The consequences of that complicity has been tracked by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko. He has exposed waste and corruption in Afghanistan notwithstanding the U.S. government's lack of commitment to preventing it. Sopko emphasized that corruption and the closely related problem of narcotics were "mission critical" factors jeopardizing all U.S. goals in Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton's clueless approach to anti-corruption work was therefore highly consequential. Her own eponymous "memo entirely ignored the structured, vertically integrated nature of the corruption networks that had taken over the Afghan government," according to Chayes. Clinton's ignorance was personally responsible for the failed mission in Afghanistan, where "[t]he only victors to emerge from this military and foreign policy debacle have been corruption and the heroin trade." Also as Chayes, and Anand Gopal's superb post mortem, No Good Men Among the Living: America, The Taliban and the War through Afghan Eyes (2014), point out, there are some righteously pissed-off victims of official corruption and of the random acts of frequently misdirected violence by the U.S. military that backs it up.

The same is true in Iraq and wherever "terrorist" insurgency arises as an entirely predictable response to the systemic corruption of U.S. puppets running failed governments. As Chayes observes and tried to inform the Clinton State Department without success: "Any plan based on such a faulty analysis would never work." Id. 146. But the faulty analysis should come as no surprise from one who seems to have at the same time behaved, as Secretary of State, in a comparably tone deaf manner to her own conflicts of interest.

An authority on that part of the beltway-bandit democracy industry that specializes in anti-corruption work captures this ignorance at the top about the systemic corruption that Chayes describes in Afghanistan. Janine Wedell, Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt Our Finances, Freedom, and Security (2014) 87, writes that "approaches of the anti-corruption industry diverge a full 180 degrees from the realities of [systemic] corruption with its built-in unaccountability." Spent on such programs designed for failure, the USAID money for democracy programs nevertheless continues to flow. This money almost certainly does more harm than good abroad, since it is aimed in the opposite direction from success, as Wedell fully documents, like Chayes, from her insider perspective.

The counter-intuitive provision of the systemically corrupt Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029), Division K, Title VII "SEC. 7032. (a) FUNDING" provides that precisely "$2,308,517,000 shall be made available for democracy programs." Democracy programs.

It is unlikely that Congress could point to a single country which has become an authentic democracy, free of the subversive effect of corruption, or even appreciably improved, as a result of these annual appropriations of billions of dollars for "democracy programs" that show up in CRomnibus II. But were this same money spent strategically at home on reform of US corruption, the US could possibly become the first country to actually benefit significantly from this otherwise wasted, poorly conceived taxpayer's largesse.

One insincere piety of Obama's first Inaugural Address was, "America has carried on ... because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents. So it has been; so it must be with this generation of Americans.... Our security, emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example." Force of our example?

The capacity for the United States to exemplify a functioning democracy that was not, as it is now, systemically corrupt, which indeed had made a recovery from the deep democracy deficit it now suffers, would unquestionably have a beneficial impact on promoting democracy around the world, and therefore also on "Our security." But corrupt US election contests among the various puppets of plutocrats, plus one authentic in-person plutocrat, make the country a laughing-stock, while stimulating new enemies who are not smiling.

Providing a role model and demonstrating effective methods and techniques for preventing or countering the overthrow of its democracy by corruption would be a far more effective use of these "democracy program" appropriations now wasted abroad. The existing programs are more certainly part of the problem than part of the solution. The burden falls on those officials who run these programs, like Hillary Clinton did in Afghanistan, to prove that they are not propagating to the rest of the world the same corrupt US system of plutocracy that they serve, along with its signature judicially-enforced "freedom to corrupt."

It is highly unlikely that Clinton and others like her, as successful practitioners within a corrupt and increasingly unequal system, are promoting the kind of democracy that they have helped subvert at home. If they were democratic patriots who had struggled against the subversive U.S. system of corruption they would not be working at a high level of the US government where such decisions are made. Sara Chayes, herself an anomaly, describes this exclusion phenomenon with regard to systemic corruption in Afghanistan. "If that government was actually a crime syndicate in disguise, the dearth of good people was no surprise" and "did not mean Afghans as a people were intrinsically or culturally corrupt. This late in the game, constructive men and women had been stripped out - any by now might prefer to stay clear."

Congress defines the purpose of its democracy programs abroad as "development of democratic states, and institutions that are responsive and accountable to citizens." Id. Wouldn't Americans like to have such a state, which currently they know they lack? Instead they have a corrupt plutocracy that is unaccountable to its citizens on all important matters, except to those fewer than .02% of citizens who can come bearing gifts in each election cycle approximating the median annual income, or more. As the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Influence Peddlers Protection Acts fully demonstrate, those currently occupying the governmental role defined in the US Constitution are now "responsive and accountable to" money, not to the governed. But democracy could probably be restored in the United States for the price Congress appropriates annually for unproductive or counterproductive "democracy programs" abroad, if that money were backed by suitable legal authority.

Let us then encourage President Bernie Sanders, since no other candidate for the job would take up such a proposal, to rededicate these wasted billions first to the need of the United States to,
  1. create and robustly enforce an automated conflicts of interest regime enforced through a transactional reporting system for supply-side political investors, their lobbyists and their rented politicians, that would support enhanced demand-side conflicts of interest recusal requirements foreclosing all politicians, and other officials, from doing favors for those who supply them money to buy those favors;
  2. convert the Patriot Act and Homeland Security budget to focus enforcement officials on defending against plutocracy the formerly democratic government described in the Constitution they are sworn to support - which, while they were looking the other way, a few political investors including foreign investors have already overthrown by means of corruption and now utilize for their own purposes. Law enforcement must be newly tasked to carry out this neglected mission at least as robustly as they now focus on those pitifully few who would hopelessly attempt to overthrow this armed-to-the-teeth country by the highly unlikely means of violence that is not even aimed more than randomly at the ruling power;
  3. develop a fully auditable voting machine or apparatus, built on a platform of publicly-owned intellectual property rights, that while remaining efficient, cannot be re-programmed or otherwise rigged to steal elections by deliberately reassigning or otherwise miscounting votes;
  4. broadcast debates and other campaign communications on non-plutocratic, publicly controlled bandwidth (pdf), thereby reducing the major cause for the inordinate cost of political campaigns that now functions mainly as a subsidy to a plutocrat-owned mass media propaganda cartel;
  5. write, enact and enforce laws that would strip jurisdiction from the U.S. Supreme Court to base unconstitutional rulings on the surreal proposition that "money is speech," while restoring all state and federal laws that the Court has wrongly and bizarrely overturned under that flight of illogic; and finally
  6. create and fund the enforcement of new comprehensive prohibitions against, and the robust criminal prosecution of, political corruption in all its forms, within a permanent framework for continuous vigilance against the next plutocratic schemes that will inevitably seek to bore creative new loopholes to riddle with corruption and thereby undermine the democracy defined in the Constitution.

After adopting such reforms the US could stand as a role model capable of again exporting lessons in democracy to the rest of the world. Now its "democracy" is a comedy routine, starring such performers as Donald Trump.

But then, the real irony of the two billion dollar CRomnibus II "democracy program" funding is that the US government would not itself qualify for it. The same rules supposed to apply to Afghanistan, for example, would prohibit federal funding of the US to recover its own democracy.

Incongruously, unlike the rest of its appropriations, such as for dark money government procurement contracts, the Influence Peddlers Protection Act insists on high anti-corruption standards for use of its "democracy" money overseas. Division K, Title VII, "SEC. 7044 (a) AFGHANISTAN ... (2) (A) Provid[es], That such funds may not be obligated for any project or activity that-- (i) includes the participation of any ... individual or organization ... involved in corrupt practices." That would rule out any government and its corrupt hangers-on in the United States which is crawling with a political class mired deeply and expertly in "corrupt practices" as their ordinary means for operating a systemically corrupt political order. One of the main functions and attributes of a corruption system is to exclude any who are not corrupt.

Nor could the systemically corrupt US government be certified under SEC. 7044(a)(2)(B) requiring, "Prior to the initial obligation of funds made available by this Act...the Secretary of State shall certify ... (iv) the Government of Afghanistan is reducing corruption ...." Ashraf Ghani's government may well be "reducing corruption" in Afghanistan below its extraordinarily high level under the Karzai family crime syndicate which was installed for Bush II by his proconsul Zalmai Khalizad and left in place by Obama even after Hamid Karzai stole the 2009 election. Corruption may be marginally reducing especially now that the Karzais' American sponsors have mostly abandoned the country in anticipation of its impending fall. But Barack Obama's government would be disqualified under this standard since it has clearly and deliberately, by acts of both commission and omission, increased the level of corruption here in the "homeland" many fold.

Obama inaugurated his project by projecting on others what would become a suitable epitaph for his own presidency: "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history." Corruption, deceit and repression; CRomnibus, Snowden, and Manning. Orwell explained: "A society becomes totalitarian ... when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud." Perhaps a US democratic government in exile on the right side of history, reliant on the consent of the governed unlike Obama's corrupt government of occupation on the wrong side, could qualify for "democracy program" appropriations ironically funded by Obama's own Influence Peddlers Protection Act of 2015.

Addendum: "Dark Money Promotion Act" (selected provisions from Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016) (H.R. 2029)

Division E, Title I, SEC. 107. None of the funds made available under
this Act may be used by the Internal Revenue Service to
target citizens of the United States for exercising any
right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
[Translation: "right guaranteed under the First Amendment" is influence paddlers' and their Supreme Court patrons' lingo used euphemistically to both connote and provide protection for political corruption]

Division E, Title I, SEC. 127. During fiscal year 2016--
(1) none of the funds made available in this or
any other Act may be used ... to issue, revise, or finalize any regulation, revenue ruling, or other guidance not limited to a particular taxpayer relating to the standard which is
used to determine whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare for purposes of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
[NOTE: 501 (c)(4) nonprofit groups are allowed to spend money on projects for the "promotion of social welfare," such as, say, supporting Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, with much less disclosure of their donors than is required of a campaign or political action committee. They are the prime vehicles for political "dark money."]

Division E, Title VIII, SEC. 735. (a) None of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be used to recommend or require any entity submitting an offer for a Federal contract to disclose any of the following information as a condition of submitting the offer:
(1) Any payment consisting of a contribution,
expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication that is made by the entity... to a candidate for election for Federal office or to a political committee, or that is otherwise made with respect to any election for Federal office.
(2) Any disbursement of funds (other than a payment described in paragraph (1)) made by the entity ... to any person with the intent or the reasonable expectation that the person will use the
funds to make a payment described in paragraph (1).
(b) In this section, each of the terms ''contribution'',
''expenditure'', ''independent expenditure'', ''electioneering communication'', ''candidate'', ''election'', and ''Federal office'' has the meaning given such term in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431 et seq.).

None of the funds made available by any division of
this Act shall be used by the Securities and Exchange
Commission to finalize, issue, or implement any rule, regulation, or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax exempt organizations [e.g., 501(c)(4)'s], or dues paid to trade associations.

Division K, Title VII SEC. 7032. (a) FUNDING.-- ... $2,308,517,000 shall be made available for democracy programs [for]... development of democratic states, and institutions that are responsive and accountable to citizens.


* Earlier versions of this article were published by Counterpunch and Dandelion Salad.

Rob Hager, a Harvard Law graduate, is a public interest litigator [Agent Orange, Bhopal Disaster, Three Mile Island, Silkwood, Joe Harding, Parks Twp., Avirgan v. Hull. (am'd. compl. & mot. to dis. only), etc.] who filed amicus briefs in the Montana sequel to Citizens United and has worked as an international consultant on anti-corruption policy and legislation with the United Nations' and other international development agencies.

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