Bernie Sanders is committed to overturning Citizens United, the 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court that lifted restrictions on outside groups’ spending on elections. As a result, industries which make up the polluter-industrial complex in the United States — the oil and gas, nuclear, agribusiness, timber, mining, petrochemical, tobacco industries — are flooding the American political process with campaign contributions. These same industries are greatly increasing the supply of lobbying resources, funding for corporate front groups that sound like citizen-based environmental (astroturf) organizations and public relations campaigns, and more in an attempt roll back environmental regulation. At the same time, they are enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in government contracts and subsidies. Like most Americans, Bernie is fed up with the stranglehold big corporate polluters are exercising over our political system…a system that privileges the profits of corporate polluters over the health of people and the plant. Bernie has called for the public financing of campaigns as a means of counteracting Citizens United and protecting American democracy.
Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News. Bernie Sanders writes: “Today is the sixth-year anniversary of Citizens United, one of the most disastrous Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime. This decision hinges on the absurd notion that money is speech, that corporations are people, and that giving huge piles of undisclosed cash in support of politicians in exchange for influence does not constitute corruption.” Read more here.
In early February of 2016, Bernie cosponsored an amendment into the energy bill intended to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.
The amendment evokes the history of notorious anti-science efforts by the tobacco and lead industries to avoid accountability for the damage caused by their products, focusing similar ire on the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long climate cover-up.
Although it doesn’t name specific companies, the amendment is surely inspired by recent revelations about ExxonMobil’s early and advanced knowledge of the role of fossil fuels in driving climate change — which was followed by the company’s subsequent, unconscionable climate science denial efforts.
Just as tobacco and lead companies sowed doubt about the dangers of their products through the use of front groups and third-party experts, so did ExxonMobil — through its funding of a sophisticated network of denialists — work to deceive the public about climate science and the need for political action to end the fossil fuel era.
The most recent and damning #ExxonKnew revelations were published late in 2015 in investigative articles by bothInsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism.
The amendment reads, “[A]nd contrary to the scientific findings of the fossil fuel companies and of others about the danger fossil fuels pose to the climate, fossil fuel companies used a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that included funding think tanks to deny, counter, and obstruct peer-reviewed research; and used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest.”
The amendment states the Senate “disapproves of activities by certain corporations and organizations funded by those corporations to deliberately undermine peer-reviewed scientific research about the dangers of their products and cast doubt on science in order to protect their financial interests…and urges fossil fuel companies to cooperate with active or future investigations into their climate-change related activities and what the companies knew and when they knew it.” Read more here.