Changing Role of Campaign Contributions in Environmental Policy

As many of you have probably heard, at the beginning of the month the Supreme Court ruled to lower limits on aggregate campaign donations in McCutcheon v. FEC. To give you an idea of what this means you can take a look here.

Many environmental activists are concerned that the ruling will mean greater influence of money over environmental issues such a regulating big oil.

In this article the issue is climate crisis, and she mentions how politics is playing a role, “The political influence of people like the Kochs will likely become more direct, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate personal-contribution caps to candidates in its ruling in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.”

In this press release, the Green Party is criticizing the supreme court ruling, and mentions how money in politics causes corruption. “Greens have called the increasing domination by Wall Street, Big Oil, defense contractors, insurance companies, agribusiness, and other major corporate sectors over the U.S. government and the election system one of the severest crises of the 21st century.”

How do you think the media is addressing this issue, if at all?

Have you heard about it before and based on what you have read do you think this is a relevant issue?

Which approach would you take if you were to write a piece like this? Would it be about climate change but mentioning campaign donations, or about corruption in politics and how it leads to environmental impact? Or some other combination?

I look forward to reading your comments!


3 Responses to “Changing Role of Campaign Contributions in Environmental Policy”

  1. I’m looking forward to speaking to your class on Friday. A few questions I’d like to pose ahead of time that I think are part of the larger discussion at play:

    1) How do people make a decision on which candidate to vote for in a particular election? How do they obtain their information? How much time do they spend? How large of a role does the media play in this?

    2) What do you think money buys a candidate? What do you think money buy a donor? How separate or entwined are the two questions?

    3) Are contributions a form of expression? Are companies people? How about trade associations or unions?

    4) Same question, different form: Can money accurately represent or signify support or opposition to an issue or cause? Is it more or less of an accurate representation then a phone or letter-writing campaign managed by a special interest? What should and should not affect a policy debate, and can contributions in any way be a positive part of that process? What about money spent for advocacy efforts that are not a direct contribution?

    5) How important is transparency as part of this discussion?

    I’d be interested in hearing people’s thoughts ahead of our time together on Friday.

  2. I think Goodman did a great job of framing the article by talking about the conference and explaining the sense of urgency related to this topic, then going into the main point, explaining how corporations are effecting this problem. I think that based on my exposure to this topic in the media, it is pretty well covered. Even with the collusion between news organizations and these big players in politics and oil, you definitely still see the opposition’s opinion from more liberal sources. I think this is definitely a relevant topic, as it is one of the main factors that is effecting our government and America as a whole as globalization and wealth disparity grows. I think the most effective way to present this topic would be to research campaign contributions, and try to create a “map” of sorts, of the corporations that are linked to different candidates and parties, and the policy they are lobbying for. This would clearly illustrate the effect these parties have had, and are trying to have, on the policy and regulations that effect our environmental impact. But, I think this type of investigative reporting may be harder than it sounds, because it may be hard to figure out exactly where money is coming from, and why. Definitely an interesting topic, but very hard to report. Great topic!

  3. Reading your blog post was the first time I had heard about this issue. It is a pretty recent new story so that makes sense. As for do I believe the media has covered it fairly… I would say yes. This hasn’t really been plastered all over the news and I think that makes sense. It isn’t that newsy of a story. Yes, it has the potential to make things much more difficult for environmental groups, but it doesn’t introduce something really drastically new to the issue. The whole idea of environmental organizations trying to battle the big oil companies with the money isn’t necessarily a new topic. This introduces a new spin on it, but not enough to really completely change the game. That is why I think that the lack of exposure of this story makes sense. I still think it is a very relevant issue in today’s society. Trying to make it seem like something a little more fresh could be difficult though. I might try and cover it with some more concrete examples. Include less quotes from experts saying how bad this will be, and instead add more numbers and stories really outlining the extent to which this is this issue is happening in politics and will now only get worse.

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