Lynn Abbott: 1 dollar, 1 vote?

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Well, the Supreme Court has done it again. In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the court allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited amounts to political action committees. The result was, as we all remember, a flood of campaign money that swamped the 2012 election.

After Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon vs. FEC, that flood will become a torrent. Until Wednesday, an individual donor could give no more than a total of $123,200 to federal candidates and federal party committees in one two-year election cycle. Those aggregate limits, as they are called, were put in place 40 years ago as a response to the corrupting effect of campaign money during the Watergate years.

Today, after McCutcheon, there are no aggregate limits at all. Forty years of court precedent have now been negated. Individuals can spread as much money as they wish between as many federal candidates and party committees as they wish. There is only one restriction still in place: an individual still is limited to giving no more than $2,600 to a single candidate per primary and per general election. That is little solace when you realize that he or she could give $2,600 to every Senate and House candidate in his or her party.

So what does this mean for those of us who cherish our belief in “one person, one vote”? Our voices will become mute under the weight of all that money. The noise of all those television ads will drown out the music of our earnest chorus of individual participation. We can’t let that happen! We cannot stand by and let it become “one dollar, one vote.”

Our only option is to amend the U.S. Constitution — a daunting task, and rightfully so. But we can do this! Join the grass-roots movement that is blossoming across the nation.

As of last July, 16 states, including Colorado, have passed resolutions or ballot initiatives to amend the constitution in favor of campaign finance reform. In addition, 500 cities, towns and counties are on record as supporting such an amendment.

Several organizations are working tirelessly; take a look at these websites to learn more and to see how you can help:

■ Move to Amend: www.movetoamend.org/wethepeopleamendment;

■ Public Citizen: www.democracyisforpeople.org/;

■ People for the American Way: www.pfaw.org/; and

■ Common Cause: www.commoncause.org.

Sign their petitions. Talk to your friends and organizations and tell them how seriously Citizens United and McCutcheon undermine our democracy.

Lynn Abbott

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I disagree.

Free people should be able to donate as much of their own money as they choose in support of any candidate or policy. Any Constitutional Amendment that would limit political donations would necessarily change the 'freedom of expression' that is protected by the First Amendment and that's a really bad idea.

In addition, the author's suggestion that the McCutcheon ruling threatens the democratic standard of "one person, one vote” is delusional. A person that donates $100 or $1000 to a candidate has never been allowed to cast more than one vote on election day.

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mark hartless 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Nor does anyone who donates millions. It is still "one person, one vote.

TV's have buttons for a reason. Read a book, Lynn. Something on U.S History or Basic Economics, maybe...

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john bailey 4 months, 3 weeks ago

could do with out the noise, but it's always been 1 voice 1vote. tell me when it was not that way ? fuzzy math perhaps ?

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Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

While we are only allowed one 'vote' per-person in an election, our 'voice' may be as loud and far reaching as we are capable and interested in projecting. The First Amendment specifically protects our 'voice' through the political process from being stifled by the government.

Limiting the 'voice' of others during elections is obviously the goal of these groups.

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Scott Wedel 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The potential Republican 2016 presidential candidates that went to Las Vegas to cater to billionaire Sheldon Adelson also opened up a future campaign issue of being beholden to billionaires like Sheldon Adelson.

If a candidate wants to claim to represent the broader electorate then that candidate should not be so beholden to money and should want opposing candidates to be beholden.

Plus, it makes no sense that a billionaire could fund a PAC that supports candidates without direct coordination with the candidate's campaign, but cannot give money to the candidates directly.

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Richard Boersma 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you Lynn, from the bottom of my democratic, egalitarian, fair-minded heart. We can, indeed, bring things back into proper perspective for our nation. We are watching a strange chapter in American history, one so lop-sidedly pro-business that the individual seems powerless and destined merely to stand by and watch. But citizen outrage fuels citizen action. Thanks for reminding us of that, and putting out the call.

Ken, Mark, I respect your viewpoints but obviously don't agree. You both seem to hop on the "one person/one vote" notion in a somewhat literal way. We all know that the media influences votes in a huge way, and money buys the media time, which buys votes. But I think you know that.

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Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Richard

Thanks for joining the discussion. I'm not sure why you describe the democratic process of "one person/one vote" as a mere 'notion.' I take the "one person/one vote" concept literally because that's the way our elections work. Literally: one person gets to cast one vote.

I appreciate your argument of undue influence and ask you to consider it this way:
How much money would I have to donate to a candidate to cause your personal judgment to lapse and result in you voting for the wrong candidate in an election?

You take the position that people aren't smart enough to evaluate the candidates and make an informed choice and the solution for that problem is for the government to restrict political speech.

Can we agree that one of the primary purposes of the First Amendment is to prevent government from stifling or limiting the political expressions and speech of individual citizens?

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Neil O'Keeffe 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Richard and Lynn, I couldn't agree more. The fact that some Sheeple don't believe that our political system is bought and paid for by big business is not surprising. But I do agree that the only way things will change is with each individual vote multiplied by millions. Politicians do not lead the way, they simply follow the money and votes can trump money. One of the greatest legacies a POTUS can make is on the SCOTUS, let's hope this current politicized majority can be corrected soon. The GOP has a Koch and a gambling addiction but hey they each only have one vote so how could they possibly influence political or legislative outcomes? Too funny!

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Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

All while George Soros and Unions beat their money drums, too.

Has your vote been influenced by money, Neil? If it's "bought and paid for by big business," who's your sponsor? Who bought your vote?

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Neil, Another great bar bet. Who is the last person or entity Neil O'Keeffe would expect to donate to Chuck Schumer's campaign. Drum roll..... Schumer couldn’t have been more grateful to the Kochs: “Thank you so much for the generous KOCHPAC contribution to my 2010 campaign….” “Your early financial help keeps me strong in my campaign.” “Again, I can’t thank you enough….I look forward to working with you throughout this election.” If you think the Democrats’ attacks on the Koch brothers are hypocritical, and purely a matter of whose ox is being gored…you are right. Ya just can't make this stuff up. Link - http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/chuck-schumer-i-was-for-the-koch-brothers-before-i-was-against-them.php

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Neil. Using Harry Reid talking points again, whining about the Koch Brothers. A question, do you consider unions as big business? Another, are you OK with unions being able to contribute as much as they like from their coffers even though some of their members may not approve of the contributions? Here is a fun fact, maybe you could win a bar bet with this one. " Koch Industries Ranks #59 in Political Donations from 1989-2014 Behind 18 Different Unions. Combined the 18 labor unions donated more than $35 for every $1 donated by Koch Industries, $640 million vs. $18 million." http://www.deftnews.com/2014/political-contributions-1989-2014-koch-industries-vs-labor-unions/ So says Neil "One of the greatest legacies a POTUS can make is on the SCOTUS, let's hope this current politicized majority can be corrected soon." Is this the same SCOTUS that allowed the ACA which is supported by 26% of those polled and not supported by 50 % of those polled and has been changed 38 times by Obama et all?

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Neil, Have you heard of Tom Steyer. Are you OK with this? From an article in the Washington Times. The Kochs are far richer, but Tom Steyer’s $100 million pledge has them looking like cheapskates in the political field. Koch Industries spent $18 million on federal elections from 1989 to 2013, placing it 59th on a list of campaign donors compiled by Open Secrets.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/1/the-steyer-brothers-gop-finds-koch-rivals-who-fina/#ixzz2xw3d2w8y Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

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Neil O'Keeffe 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I absolutely love Tom Steyer, he is the yin to your yang. And yes I still advocate campaign finance reform whether it is to restrict union or big business influence on our political system does not matter to me. Enacting term limits is the other solution to keep our legislators from creating lifetime positions for themselves and their special interest godfathers.

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Scott Wedel 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Sure, candidates can become beholden to the moneyed contributors.

But the way against that isn't to have a federal agency deciding what movie is or is not campaign spending.

The way against that is for candidates to not accept big money and to run against their opponent's for accepting that money.

Jerry Brown was outspent by $140M by Meg Whitman in the 2010 California governor's race and yet won by 13%. The more she spent the more she dropped in the polls because he had made her wild campaign spending a central campaign issue. He successfully argued that if she cannot manage her campaign staff and advertising costs then she cannot manage the state budget. And the more she outspent him the more she made his point that is better at doing more with less.

And btw, the ACLU submitted a friend of the court brief with Citizens United because they viewed the situation of a government agency deciding what is illegal campaign spending vs legit movie vs free speech really weakens everyone's free speech.

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Brian Kotowski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Corruption and power = moths & flames. That lefties like Lynn are bellyaching about McCutcheon is nothing more than theater. There is no shortage of megarich kingmakers on both sides who are salivating at the prospect of throwing even more dollars into the cauldron. When it comes to impeding the mischief makers, the best first step would be to limit the power of elected officials and of government itself. Which would obviously not end corruption; the most cynical (& probably realistic) evaluation is that it would make corruption more challenging in the public arena and less so in the private sphere. So the question becomes which is worse - public or private corruption. The undeniable answer is the former, since government is so much more immense, powerful, centralized and arbitrary.

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Dan Shores 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Lynn for the article and thanks Richard for your support. Yes, our democratic process is under siege. What ever happened to the concept of one man, one woman, one vote. We are slowly digressing to the era of the robber barons! Enough money can buy enough ads to completely saturate a market and these ads don't even have to be true. It's just advertising to sell a particular product at that point, and anyone in advertising knows that the more a product is put in someone's face, the more likely they are to buy it. So more money, saturate a market, equals more votes. We need to have dollar limits and complete disclosure by donors on all sides in my view. Then at least the consumer can know who is puling the strings.

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Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Dan - Can you provide any examples of when your judgement lapsed in a voting booth as a result of a saturated marketplace of ideas during an election? Can you cite a campaign ad that wasn't true that tricked you into voting for the wrong candidate?

Thank goodness the First Amendment protects us from the government deciding what political speech is allowed and what is not.

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Scott Wedel 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Dan Shores is talking about the 2010 California governor election when Meg Whitman spent about $180 million, most of it her own money. She saturated many markets with her ads. So then why did she lose by 13% and not win the election by 5 to 1 as that was the ratio she outspent Jerry Brown?

Or how SB 700 must have won locally because they greatly outspent their opponents.

It would seem that a modern full financed campaign needs the resources to get their message heard and to identify their supporters and to get them to vote. That more ads are not more convincing.

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john bailey 4 months, 3 weeks ago

convinced by ads ? just how stupid is the population? apparently enough of em......

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Chris Hadlock 4 months, 3 weeks ago

If money = free speech then I have absolutely no problem with anyone that wants to donate to the candidate(s) of their choice Union, corporation, rich people or Rhys (sorry Rhys, had to throw that out there :) makes no difference to me.

I think that we the public deserve to know how our politicians fund their campaigns and I would couple unlimited donations with complete transparency. The public deserve to know where the money comes from. That knowledge is the only way we have to base our decisions about who will represent our views as citizens. If you do not know who is paying for Candidate X, how can you decide whther to vote for candidate X or candidate Y.

I have posted before, please join me in calling for: Unlimited donations. Complete transparency Term Limits No fundraising until 1 year prior to the election No War Chests.

Once the election is over all excess campaign funds go to the Gov't entity that the candidate was running for. Each and every election cycle start the fundraising anew with no bank balance to start with.

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Brian Kotowski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

One wonders how former state senators John Morse and Angela Giron could possibly have become Colorado's first ever recalled state legislators. They and their gun-control cohorts like Michael Bloomberg outspent the recall effort by nearly six to one. How is it that the recallers weren't rendered "mute" under the weight of that disparity, Lynn?

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Is it just me or does it seem silly and sad that apparently people vote based on who is spending the money to support the candidate as Chris H said "If you do not know who is paying for Candidate X, how can you decide whther to vote for candidate X or candidate Y." Who cares who is spending the money. I thought we were supposed to vote for the person we thought would best represent our community at whatever level of government they were looking to be elected. That means voters should be educated about the candidate. Now I realize that unfortunately that does not happen with the frequency it should thus we now have the phrase "low information voters". I read a comment above, "What ever happened to the concept of one man, one woman, one vote", Darn it, I thought that's what we had in the USA. Did I take a nap and miss a new law that was passed allowing some people to vote more than once.

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Ken Collins 4 months, 3 weeks ago

J Baily Just how stupid is the population? Some are pretty stupid. My dad, lived in Texas and a lifelong Rep. and warned us of the dangers of a W Presidency and he still got elected, twice I believe.

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john bailey 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Bailey , that's with an "e" Ken, thanks, I even spelled it for ya...my dad was an AF pilot , so whats that got to do with anything ? oh boy, Colyfornians and Texans in Routt county imagine that ?

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rhys jones 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The power of the ballot... HA. Here's the new plan: For the next three elections, NOBODY VOTES. That way, when they can't declare a winner, everybody goes home. We'll have 'em flushed out by then.

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Dan Shores 4 months, 3 weeks ago

There are those who will argue about the sky being blue or the grass being green. It is obvious that money buys votes. There is no other reason why some of the wealthiest and greediest people on the face of the earth, such as the Koch Bros., would be willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign advertising. How else can we explain the 2016 republican presidential hopefuls attending the ring kissing ceremony with Sheldon Adelson, if they didn't care about getting his support and of course, money. And on another note, as if the right wing prejudice based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion and sexual orientation wasn't enough, we are now informed that they have a new prejudice based on what state you came here from. Why am I not surprised.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Ah yes, the Koch Brothers, always the Koch Brothers. Is that the same Koch Brothers that contributed to Chuck Schumer's 2010 campaign. Last I checked Schumer is a democrat. I guess that contribution was ok though Dan S. I have to give you credit, your comments are a hoot,. Are you a ghost writer for Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi

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Scott Wedel 4 months, 3 weeks ago

"It is obvious that money buys votes."

No, the evidence proves the contrary that money cannot buy votes. Meg Whitman's $180M campaign was not able get votes. Just because a campaign spends lots of money does not mean it will get lots of votes.

Presidential primary campaigns get expensive and Sheldon Adelson has shown a willingness to be the main supporter of a campaign. So yes, republican candidates go there seeking money, but it won't decide whom get how many votes.

Campaign money is somewhat like major league baseball teams spending on player salaries. Spending money does not guarantee wins and teams with smaller budgets often beat free spending teams. The Oakland As have regularly been getting better results on a smaller budget. Money is not irrelevant because a competitive team cannot be fielded for free, but neither does money determine results.

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Dan Shores 4 months, 3 weeks ago

If money wasn't an important way to try and influence the outcome of elections, then why is so much money spent to try and win elections? Doesn't matter which side is spending, the point is, it is done to influence the electorate. If rich donors didn't think that they could buy elections, believe me, they wouldn't try. You can always find a rare example of where money was spent and the candidate didn't win. Doesn't prove a thing. Like I said, we can argue about the color of the sky, the grass or whether or not he earth is round. Doesn't change the facts. That's why I believe we need to have full disclosure as to who is paying for what.

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Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Dan Shores continues to argue without offering any examples of how the 'problem' of money in politics has affected his vote.

Please, Dan. Tell us about any time your judgment lapsed in a voting booth because of a campaign ad.

Tell us how you were tricked by political donations and now need the government to protect you from your own poor judgment.

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Brian Kotowski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The caterwauling over Dan Shores can be boiled down to one admonition: Don't feed the trolls.

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john bailey 4 months, 3 weeks ago

but Brian , he eats it so well, and with out a bib , right Richard ?

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jerry carlton 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Rhys You had the only good idea but none of these partisans would go along. You, me and maybe Mark Hartless seem to be the only ones who think almost all Republican and Democratic politicians at the national level should be burned at the stake,

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mark hartless 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I actually agree with Dan. There's nothing wrong with full disclosure. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Consider this also: We have people lining up to support the government's power to FORCE people to purchase a product they do not want (health insurance), while at the same time protesting an individual's right to purchase something they DO want (advertising/speech).

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Ken Mauldin 4 months, 3 weeks ago

While I generally agree with full disclosure in areas of public business, there are other reasonable considerations.

There's no doubt the benefits of 'full disclosure' have been lost on the former CEO of Mozilla after his $1000 donation from 2008 was discovered. Privacy should still enter the equation somewhere and if donating small amounts to political campaigns can cause people to have their lives threatened and/or lose their job it would have a definite chilling effect on political expression.

It's obvious the IRS can and will show attention to people who's politics they disagree with. I'm not suggesting a complete lack of transparency in election finances, just that we shouldn't abandon the concept of privacy all-together. Privacy is an important component of a free society.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Mark H, totally agree with full disclosure. The problem with Dan S is he only calls out the Koch Brothers et all. Never calls out Steyer, Soros, unions so he has no credibility when calling for full disclosure.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Dan S., Neil Are these the Koch Brothers you rant about. I assume that Steyer and Soros et all are as generous. From the article 'Evil' Koch Brothers Donate Billions Friday, 21 Mar 2014 12:47 PM

By Deroy Murdock

"The Kochs’ critics are free to disagree with the Kansas industrialists and their libertarian ideas. However, most who despise the Kochs would be shocked by what these “greedy capitalists” do with their profits, beyond campaign donations. For starters, the Kochs, support university programs and think tanks that try “to understand the nature of human freedom and how that freedom leads to prosperity.

CKF underwrites research and teaching at Brown, Mount Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Vassar, and some 245 other colleges. This includes a speaker series, reading group, and essay contest at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in Harry Reid’s home state. Koch Industries (which offers same-sex spousal benefits to its legally married employees) also donated $814,000 to the Kansas State University Office of Diversity to assist “historically under-represented students.” The Kochs fund cures and treatments.

Among $506 million in such gifts, his major grants include:

$25 million to Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to eliminate genitourinary malignancies.

$100 million for cancer research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

$100 million for a new ambulatory care center at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The Kochs back the arts.

Elizabeth B. Koch, Charles’ wife, launched the Koch Cultural Trust. It has furnished $1.8 million in grants to artists and musicians with ties to Kansas.

David Koch supports PBS’ documentary series "Nova." He also is a paleo-philanthropist, having given $15 million to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for a Hall of Human Origins and another $35 million to update its fossil and dinosaur displays in Washington, D.C. New York’s American Museum of Natural History will enjoy a new Dinosaur Wing, thanks to David’s $20 million gift.

David also donated $100 million in 2008 to modernize the former New York State Theater at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, home to the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera. The Kochs also steward the environment.

“Koch Industries, Inc. takes a leadership role in the promotion of biodiversity, wildlife habitat enhancement, land restoration and conservation education,” according to Wildlife Habitat Council president Robert Johnson. “Koch and its subsidiaries maintain Council-certified programs at 10 facilities throughout the United States,” including Montana’s 300,000-acre Matador Cattle Company Beaverhead Ranch.

Flint Hills Resources (a Koch company) helps Ducks Unlimited maintain 36,000 acres of waterfowl habitat on 116 Minnesota lakes. Thus, Ducks Unlimited gave the company its Emerald Teal Award."

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Brian Kotowski 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Top Medicare billers are huge Democrat donors. Dr. Salomon Mengen, who raked in $21 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2012, gave 700k to Harry Reid's favorite super pac; which in turn funneled 600k into the campaign to re-elect liberal Senator Robert Menendez. And let's not forget Michael Bloomberg's 6-figure contribution that helped Colorado gun-controllers outspend their pro-2A opponents by better than five to one last year. One wonders if our liberal friends object to that kind of support for their favorite candidates/causes. If not, why?

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mark hartless 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The reason the left is pushing this is that they know their incestious relationship with unions (public AND private) will more than make up for it, tipping the scales soundly in their favor when it comes to $$$.

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mark hartless 4 months, 1 week ago

Government acted on Good Friday to permanently delay the Keystone Pipeline.

Day or 2 earlier a billionaire democrat pledged to donate several hundred million if the pipeline was not built.

Government acts for the $$$, Pat. It has little to do with the R or D after the senator's name.

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