A Secretive Billionaire Has Been Shaping Politicians' Decisions for Years

Money can buy politicians. We all know it's true. Anger and futility over the power that money has in politics has fueled American voters' disillusionment with the democratic political system for years. But we all know that the situation became worse after the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United, which essentially gave corporations and shadowy "dark money groups" free rein to dominate politics as much as they want.

Well, we've just hit a milestone moment. Investigative reporters and researchers with ProPublica, The Lever, and The New York Times recently uncovered the largest politically-related donation in all of U.S. history... that we know about.

Congress must protect the integrity of the U.S. political system, by ending this corruption. It must pass laws requiring full disclosure of all campaign, political, and advocacy donations, now! Sign the petition to save our democracy from malicious corporate influence.

Billionaire Barre Seid of Chicago has successfully avoided the media spotlight for years, despite apparently being one of the world's three most powerful people, according to Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Over time, he's cumulatively donated hundreds of millions of dollars to right-wing groups and politicians.

Now we're learning that he made a tax-avoidant donation worth $1.6 billion to a right-wing political organization called Marble Freedom Trust. The Trust is a "dark money group" that can raise as much money as it wants and dole it out to desired politicians, without even needing to disclose its activities, thanks to Citizens United. The group - like many others - has complete liberty to influence the U.S. political system and buy politicians' loyalty.

Democracy should be based on constituents - everyday people whose needs and views combine together to shape our political landscape. But it's been hijacked by powerful, secretive individuals who have enough money to twist everything to their preference. As David Sirota and Joel Warner of The Lever write: "such enormous sums of money should not be able to influence elections, lawmakers, judicial nominations and public policy in secret."

And these dark money organizations are effective. Their weighty interference has successfully pushed lawmakers to stifle gun safety laws, block abortion access, hinder voting rights, weaken consumer protections, undermine environmental health regulations, and even to confirm our three most recent Supreme Court justices - all radical, fundamentalist Republicans. In other words: wealthy people are making the decisions. But it should be us.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Congress is currently considering three separate pieces of legislation that would tackle this monumental corruption and secrecy problem. Under one such bill, the Disclose Act, these shadowy groups would be required to disclose the names of donors who provide $10,000 or more to their groups, and mandate transparency around secretive shell companies that lobby politicians and influence elections - currently without revealing their owners).

Another bill would address the problem of secretive monied groups that influence Supreme Court rulings through submitting "amicus briefs," requiring these groups to disclose their donors to the public. The third would bolster the Securities and Exchange Commission's authority to more fully monitor and regulate corporate political influence. Obviously we need all three of these bills to become law. But Congress will need to feel pressure from us in order to vote "yes." Because we all know that dark money groups will be fighting tooth and nail to maintain their power and anonymity.

Sign the petition to demand that Congress pass these three major pieces of reform legislation! We must ensure that everyday Americans' voices matter more than corporate billionaires' in order to protect U.S. democracy.
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