Democracy

News Release | WashPIRG | Democracy

Today Supreme Court Ruled for Another Flood of Big Money

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. WashPIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

News Release | WashPIRG | Democracy

WashPIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act

WashPIRG applauded Rep. Adam Smith today for co-sponsoring new legislation aimed at raising the voices of everyday people in the political process. Rep. Smith is an original co-sponsor of the Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), legislation that would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small dollar donors.

News Release | WashPIRG | Democracy

ON DAY OF ORAL ARGUMENTS IN MCCUTCHEON V. FEC, WASHINGTON STATE PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND POLITICAL GROUPS GATHER TO PUSH BACK ON BIG MONEY IN POLITICS, DEMAND SOLUTIONS

Today WashPIRG, Washington Senator Adam Kline, Fair Elections Seattle, Backbone Campaign, WAMEND and University of Washington students gathered at the U.S. District Court in downtown Seattle to push back on the power of big money in elections, as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. Advocates say the case would further increase the electoral clout of a few large donors.

Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Democracy

McCutcheon Money

We project that striking the aggregate limit would bring more than $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

Label Genetically Modified Foods

To make smart, informed choices about what we consume, we should be allowed to know what’s in our food.

Issue | Health Care

Fighting The High Cost Of Rx Drugs

Brand-name drug companies have been paying off generic drug makers to delay competition and keep prices high. This widespread pay-for-delay scheme needs to be put to an end. 

News Release | WashPIRG | Democracy

Report Exposes How Taxpayers Bear Cost of Corporate Settlements

A report released today spotlights a common practice where corporations that commit wrongdoing and agree to financial settlements with the federal government, go on to claim such settlement payments as tax-deductible business expenses. The new study, released by the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG), follows a record year of corporate settlements, while many more settlements relating to banking, environmental, and consumer safety issues are expected.

Report | WashPIRG | Democracy

Subsidizing Bad Behavior

BP’s recent $4.5 billion legal settlement with the Justice Department for its misdeeds in the Gulf oil spill was historic for being the largest ever criminal settlement.  But it was historic for another reason as well—none of it is allowed to be tax deductible.  Unfortunately, too many settlements for wrongdoing end up as tax deductions.

Corporations accused of wrongdoing commonly settle legal disputes with government regulators out of court. Doing so allows both the company and the government to avoid going to trial and the agency gets to appear as if it is teaching the company a lesson for its misdeeds. However, very often the corporations deduct the costs of the settlement on their taxes as an ordinary business expense, shifting a significant portion of the burden onto ordinary taxpayers to pick up the tab. Especially when Congress is struggling to reduce budget shortfalls, every dollar that corporate wrongdoers avoid paying by deducting a settlement must be made up for through higher tax rates for others, cuts to public programs, or an increase in the national debt.

Taxpayers should not subsidize BP’s recklessness and deception in the Gulf, big banks’ costly tampering with interest rates in the Libor scandal, or other wrongdoing.

The law clearly states that punitive penalties and fines issued by government agencies are not tax-deductible, but agencies that negotiate settlements all too rarely make clear what portion of a settlement should be regarded as punitive. Corporate tax lawyers can take advantage of this ambiguity by acting as if none of the settlement was meant to be punishment for misdeeds. The Internal Revenue Service is ill prepared to challenge these claims, and taxpayers end up holding the bag.

To help ensure that corporate wrong-doing is not publicly subsidized and that taxpayers are not saddled with the burden, U.S. PIRG offers the following policy recommendations that could save billions of dollars each year.

News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Democracy

New Analysis: Tiny Number of Wealthy Contributors Match Millions of Small Donors, Will Continue to Set Agenda In Washington

A new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by U.S. PIRG and Demos shows that just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving an average of $4.7 million each matched the $285.2 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the two major-party presidential candidates.

News Release | WashPIRG | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Big Money and Dark Money in the 2012 Elections

A new analysis of pre-election data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by WashPIRG and Demos shows that outside spending in the first presidential election since Citizens United is living up to its hype: new waves of “outside spending” have been fueled by dark money and unlimited fundraising from a small number of wealthy donors.

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