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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Campaign Donation Market Place

Category: Citizens United
Posted: 08/12/15 12:51

by Dave Mindeman

Let's talk about corruption. Legal corruption, but corruption none the less.

One of the favorable aspects of Donald Trump... that he, and his supporters, mention often... is that because he finances himself, he is not influenced by anybody or beholden to anybody.

It is unfortunate that it requires super wealth to achieve that, but the ability to be able to say that you are above the influence peddlers has a certain appeal.

Because donating money to elected officials is legal, we can't call it corruption in the legal sense; but it IS corruption. Politicians will go to great pains to tell us that larger donors do not influence their vote....but really, how can it be otherwise?

Look at Minnesota.

Erik Paulsen has been bought and paid for by the medical device industry. John Kline is owned by the For Profit Colleges. Rick Nolan has to be mindful of the mining industry. And Collin Peterson listens to the big agriculture conglomerates.

They call it representing a constituency. I call it legal bribery.

And it happens in the Minnesota legislature as well. As Minnesota's campaign finance laws get weaker and weaker, you see more money flowing into the local races. Outside groups target races and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just to buy one more vote.

Some individuals are willing to dump some money influence into the legislature to protect a particular practice that should be regulated, from being regulated.

A good example of that is Pawn America owner, Brad Rixmann. He has virtually cornered the market on Payday Loans. What is a Payday loan?

A payday loan - which might also be called a "cash advance" or "check loan" - is a short-term loan, generally for $500 or less, that is typically due on your next payday. The cost of the loan (finance charge) may range from $10 to $30 for every $100 borrowed. A typical two-week payday loan with a $15 per $100 fee equates to an annual percentage rate (APR) of almost 400%. By comparison, APRs on credit cards can range from about 12 percent to 30 percent.

Why would someone take out such a loan? Typically it is poor, cash strapped individuals who don't have a conventional means of getting extra money. Brad Rixmann would say that he is performing a service to these people....most everyone else would say he is exploiting the poor.

However anyone feels about it, Brad Rixmann makes a lot of money via Payday Loans and he wants to keep it viable. Many states have outlawed the practice entirely....

Payday lending occurs in much of the country, although 15 states and the District of Columbia have effectively banned it outright. Minnesota is among 36 states that allow payday lending. Nine of those have set more stringent requirements, including lower limits on fees.

Minnesota has taken up regulating these loans at various times, but it always seems to die in the legislature without final action.

Brad Rixmann has doled out nearly $550,000 in state campaign donations over the last decade.

The majority of it goes to Republicans....but key Democratic legislators will suddenly become recipients when the legislation is on the table.

Of course, all the legislators involved say the contributions had nothing to do with their vote. But then you have to wonder why an individual would pay out over half a million dollars to legislators. Just because he is a nice guy? And you also have to wonder why the votes just happen to always produce the result that Brad Rixmann seeks. Coincidence? Not a chance.

The people that Brad Rixmann exploits obviously aren't good at influence peddling. They don't have the cash. They don't have the clout.

Rixmann even exploits them in other ways. When he gives them their "loans", he asks that they sign a postcard addressed to their legislator, which tells the legislature that they want payday loans to stay legal. I doubt that they get a full explanation of what that post card means....all they are concerned about is making it to the next pay check. But all the legislator sees is a post card with a constituent name on it and another excuse to let Brad Rixmann get his way on the next vote.

We are sinking into an abyss of campaign donor influence. Money in politics is pure and simple corruption...and its all legal.

Campaign donations have become shopping for elected officials.

Buy and sell. Its the new market exchange.
comments (3) permalink

Medtronic, the Corporate Person, Lost Its Shareholder Friends

Category: Citizens United
Posted: 08/21/14 22:42

by Dave Mindeman

I'm sure you have heard the expression "corporations exist to maximize shareholder value".

Somebody should tell that to Medtronic.

Medtronic Inc. chief executive Omar Ishrak got an earful from stockholders who got their first chance Thursday to directly question the company's planned purchase of an Irish company. Medtronic's $43 billion deal to buy Covidien Inc. has drawn enormous media and political scrutiny as one of a growing number of U.S. companies purchasing firms in countries with lower tax rates, then relocating their legal headquarters abroad to take advantage of those rates. For Medtronic's shareholders, there's another issue to the deal: Its structure creates a surprise taxable event for them -- one that could cost thousands of dollars depending on how many shares they own.

Medtronic merged with Covidien in order to "disavow" American citizenship and avoid taxes on overseas holdings.

But, unfortunately for Medtronic shareholders, the completion of the sale will cause a trigger of capital gains taxes for long time shareholders. And how does that "maximize shareholder value"?

Chief executive Omar Ishrak had problems placating those shareholders at their annual meeting. And there were other concerns....

1. Inversion - this tax ploy which other corporations have looked at is now going to get the scrutiny of the Federal regulatory agencies....which, in turn, could result in new laws to prevent such blatant tax avoidance.

2. Protecting Board Members and Officers - instead of "maximizing shareholder value", Medtronic is, instead, going to work to protect its board and officers by absorbing the $65 million in excise taxes that would apply to them personally.

3. Tax Avoidance - Some shareholders even complained about the fact that US taxes were being avoided. Especially when that avoidance was going to trigger shareholder tax liability in the thousands per individual.

It is hard to justify Medtronic's actions on the basis of "looking out for the shareholder".....because this action clearly does not. The Medtronic shareholders are the victims of the corporate plot.

If Medtronic is a corporate "person" then it doesn't have many friends right now.
comments (0) permalink

A Future Look At Sheldon Adelson's News Conference

Category: Citizens United
Posted: 04/02/14 13:02, Edited: 04/02/14 13:19

by Dave Mindeman

Here is a future scenario based on today's Supreme Court ruling:

Time: In the near future

Place: White House briefing room with press present

Sheldon Adelson strides toward the podium.

ADELSON: Good morning. I called this press conference so that I could help clarify some of the positions of President Gotembytheballs. There has been some confusion of late and I'd just like to clear it up. In regards to online gambling, the President's position is to repeal last year's bill that allows this form of gambling. In addition, we are going to proceed with the new missile plant near Arlington, Texas. We need to keep America strong. Also, Israel has been granted a wing in the Pentagon to coordinate Israeli defenses. Are there any questions?

REPORTER: Some people are saying that the positions you just "clarified" are simply catering to your business needs and policy wants. Do you think that criticism is justified?

ADELSON: Let's be clear. While those policy positions are coincidently my own, they have come about after deep discussion with the cabinet. And since I paid for most of those people to get there, they may have a bias towards the ideas I present. That doesn't mean that these ideas are not good for the American people.

REPORTER: But the administration has made the repeal of online gambling its number one priority. Is that really a necessary position?

ADELSON: Well it is necessary to maintain my wealth and if I do not maintain my wealth, then George Soros' candidate Senator Gotembythethroat might be making policy and the President is not going to let that happen.

REPORTER: But, Mr. Adelman, even the new missile plant is going to be built on land you own and the plant will be operated by a business you own. How is that fair?

ADELSON: It is fair because I have to increase my campaign contributions. President Gotembytheballs' term expires and I need to work on my support for Senator Myfootsuphisass' campaign. We need continuity to make these policies work.

REPORTER: In regards to the Israeli "wing" at the Pentagon - isn't that going to require Senate approval?

ADELSON: Good question. Yes, it will and I am in the process of purchasing my 51st Senator as we speak. I am working in Minnesota to form a coalition with Stanley Hubbard and Bob Cummins to get our candidate IlovePolymet into office. As soon as we get that into place, Senate confirmation shouldn't be a problem. Senate Majority Leader Senator Suckup is doing a great job and will make it happen.

REPORTER: There are rumors that the President is considering dismantling the social safety net. Millions of people will lose government support for their subsitence. Is that true?

ADELSON: Well, I -uh, the President- hasn't made up his mind about that yet. I -um, the President, is looking into all the possibilities. It is a question of how many rich people we need to mollify in order to keep those policies going. After all, the poor don't have a lot of money to fill campaign coffers. We have to make sure the important people are kept happy. The Soros' wing of the government is buying up more political people - well, I mean "capital" - lately and we have to stem that tide.

AIDE TO ADELSON: Sorry ladies and gentleman, that is all we have time for.

ADELSON: Yes, sorry. I have to Jet out to Las Vegas to open a new casino. Finally got those property tax breaks I needed. Governor Whateveryousay in Nevada finally got his act together. I had to threaten to support his opponent State Senator Ilikebribes to get his attention.

ADELSON: Thank you all.


And thank you to the US Supreme Court for making this all possible.

comments (1) permalink
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