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Can't Get No Justice at the Civil Justice Association of California

How Citizens United Has Perverted the Democratic Party and Its Allies

by TEKA-LARK FLEMING

The American election has been destroyed by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The aforementioned United States constitutional law case held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political Independent Expenditures (IE) by corporations, associations or labor unions.

In a nutshell, the decision was described as Corporations are people. If an entity is a person, giving money to whomever one desires is protected by the First Amendment.

For candidates seeking a state office in California, the Fair Political Practices Commission(FPPC) has set guidelines for contributions:

$2,600 per election to a Federal candidate or the candidate’s campaign committee

$5,000 per calendar year to a PAC. This limit applies to a PAC (political action committee) that supports Federal candidates.

$10,000 per calendar year to a State or local party committee.

$32,400 per calendar year to a national party committee. This limit applies separately to a party’s national committee, House campaign committee and Senate campaign committee.

$100 in currency (cash) to any political committee. (Anonymous cash contributions may not exceed $50.)

But the key phrase is the amount of money that can be given to a candidate. With Super PACs—also known as Independent Expenditures (IE)—a person or corporation can spend as much as they want to support or oppose a candidate as long as there is no proof that they have worked with any candidate or the respective campaign staff.

In California one of the greatest violators of the spirit of voting is the Civil Justice Association of California.

Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC)  board consists of ExxonMobil, Shell and Dow Chemical Company, among others.

The CJAC perverts the election process by running right-leaning, neo-liberal moderate Democrats in areas that they know a Republican could never win. CJAC is anti-environment, anti-consumer and pro-business but in the 2008-2012 election cycles, the organization gave overwhelmingly to Democrats.

CJAC’s SuperPAC Fairpac has been funded by Koch Industries, Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy–a coalition that includes Chevron and Walmart–and Enterprise Holdings INC Political Action Committee which supported Mitt Romney for President.

In California, CJAC is running roughshod over real progressives and propping up Astroturf- green, pro-business moderate Democrats in their place.

CJAC bragged in their promotional materials in 2008 that it spent more than $2,000,000 in efforts to defeat pro-consumer candidates running for the California state legislature.

One person who CJAC targets unmercifully is progressive California Democrat Betsy Butler. Since 2010, CJAC has been making her life hell. A true progressive who understands policy, Butler has been in a fight for her political life owing to millions of dollars that CJAC pours into every race she enters. CJAC’s sole purpose is to take her down.

In the article, “Big Corporate PACs Issue More Crazy Lies in Smear Campaign Against Betsy Butler” in Total Capitol, it was stated:

“Yet another in a continuing series of corporate-funded mudslinging mailers was received by voters in Assembly 53 yesterday.

This one, paid for by the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), a coalition of insurance, oil, tobacco, banking and pharmaceutical companies, made a number of demonstrably false charges against Betsy Butler.

The mailer claims Betsy has “accepted thousands of dollars from lobbyists representing big oil, drug and insurance companies…” This is a flat out lie. Betsy has accepted no contributions ($0) from lobbyists. Not one cent. This is a particularly ludicrous claim coming from, well, big oil, drug and insurance companies.”

As California is the test ground for the nation, the South Los Angeles section of Los Angeles is the testing ground for California. What tests successfully in South L.A is taken state-wide, and from there it is deployed nationally.

South Los Angeles has a Black voting majority. Nearly the entire Democratic party in the area has been taken over by moderate (almost Blue Dog) Democrats. Many of the politicians in the area are former police officers. The politicians are typically anti-environment and pro-business. The fracking of Inglewood Oil Field was made possible by Yvonne Burke who was the L.A. County Supervisor (which covers all of South L.A.) from 1992 – 2008 and continues to be made possible with current L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas who refuses to take a stand against fracking.

Now South L.A. politicians are passing their Blue Dog ways on to their children and moving to western section of Los Angeles e.g. Marina and Hollywood.

Yvonne Burke’s daughter, Autumn Burke, is running for the 62nd Assembly District race which covers Southwest and South Los Angeles. She has taken $3,000 from CJAC. In May alone over $100,000 was dropped into the 62nd race supporting Burke on behalf of Fairpac Independent Expenditure Committee, which is sponsored by the CJAC.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is Mark Ridley-Thomas’ son and he also accepted money from Chevron, Occidental Petroleum and  CJAC in his winning race for for the 54rd Assembly and was supported with large amounts of money by IE spent by Fairpac.

The Democratic party in South Los Angeles and California has been perverted by SuperPACs and their dark money.

It’s no longer about just checking the box that says Democrat anymore, because corporate America has changed the game.

Citizens United must be overturned.

“We make the rules of the economy – and we have the power to change those rules.” – Robert Reich

Don’t let anyone tell you that we can’t change the rules. The people can change the rules, but the first thing we all have to do is know that the game has been rigged.

Teka-Lark Fleming is the publisher of the Morningside Park Chronicle newspaper. It is a weekly print newspaper covering Black L.A. from Inglewood to the Eastside. Contact publisher@mpchronicle.net