American business leaders are concerned about our current campaign financing system, the pressure they face to donate to political campaigns, and the onslaught of large undisclosed donations, according to a new poll released last week by the Committee on Economic Development (CED), one of the nation's premiere business public policy organizations.
Here are some key points:
- More than two-fifths describe the amount of money being solicited from American business leaders and their corporate treasuries to give to third party groups as high.
- Half of respondents feel that the level of pressure being placed on American business leaders to make political contributions has increased since the last presidential election in 2008
- Two-thirds of those polled believe, “the lack of transparency and oversight in corporate political activity encourages behavior that puts corporations at legal risk and endangers corporate reputations.”
- More than half of respondents support a Fair Elections-style matching fund system for our elections.
Ed Kangas, a CED trustee and retired chairman and CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, delivered some of the most striking remarks at the event. “Our political system is so badly corrupted that it is imploding in front of our eyes,” Kangas began.
To fix this corrosive system that puts wealthy special interests ahead of donors, Kangas said, “we must stop the corruption of money from the rich and the powerful on our election process and we must return power to the average American with an effective government-funded multiple match of smaller contributions.”
We agree—and that’s exactly what the Fair Elections Now Act would do.
This isn't the first time business leaders have spoken out about our broken political system. In January, after the Supreme Court issued its disastrous decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a group of nearly 60 business leaders sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to pass the Fair Elections Now Act. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Kirsch and former Defense Secretary and Chairman Emeritus of the Carlyle Group Frank Carluccci have also spoken out about the need for reform.
Remarks by Ed Kangas
CED Trustee, Chairman and CEO (retired) of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Delivered October 28, 2010
Our political system is so badly corrupted that it is imploding in front of our eyes. Our politicians are so obsessed with maintaining power and being reelected, that they engage in two corrosive practices.
Number Two: they accept and support huge political contributions and related spending by the powerful and the rich. Individuals, corporations, unions, and special interest groups. And they, in return, grant access and favoritism.
Number Two: they buy votes from today’s voters at the expense of future voters. Most of whom are not yet old enough to vote, many of whom have not yet been born.
This has become so blatant and so obvious that the American people have finally figured it out and a revolt is under way. Next Tuesday, the frustration and wrath that will vaporize incumbents from both parties will be evidence of this revolt.
Many believe, at least some believe, that this will create chaos and a dysfunction situation in Washington. Some say the voters do not know what they are going to do. These political elitists are dead wrong. The reality is American business leaders, working men and women, mothers, fathers, and grandparents have come to the conclusion that chaos and dysfunctional Washington is far far better than what we have now.
And it will be in the aftermath of next Tuesday’s election that we will start a new. And there are two things that must be done: 1) we must stop the corruption of money from the rich and the powerful on our election process and we must return power to the average American with an effective government-funded multiple match of smaller contributions. And 2, we must insist that our political leaders concern themselves with voters of the future generation than the voters of today.
The first step in rebuilding the political system is reform campaign financing. What is going on is bad for business, bad for our economy, bad for job creation. The CED is a group of CEOS and university presidents. We believe in transparency and we know that transparence requires light. And so, starting again today we’re going to focus a bright light of laser intensity on the campaign finance issue. So it finally once and for all it gets fixed forever.
My mother told me that when people are nice enough to listen attentively to say thank you, I thank you.