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tv   House Subcommittee Hearing on Campaign Finance  CSPAN  February 10, 2020 9:43am-11:37am EST

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least. >> donald john trump president of the united states is not guilty as charged in the second article of impeachment. >> for the third time in u.s. history, a president has been impeached and acquitted. from the house hearings to the senate trial, c-span has provided live comprehensive coverage of the impeachment of president trump. you can find all of our video and related resources at c-span, your place for unfiltered coverage of congress. >> today president trump holds a campaign rally in manchester, new hampshire at 7 p.m. eastern. watch our campaign 2020 coverage live on c-span 3, at or listen with the free c-span radio app. marking the 10th anniversary of the citizens united versus fec supreme court ruling, a house
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judiciary subcommittee held a hearing to examine campaign finance laws and the impact of the landmark ruling. campaign finance experts testified on the effects of the ruling which allowed unlimited spending on political campaigns by outside groups. [inaudible conversations]
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thank you. the committee on the judiciary subcommittee on the constitution civil rights and civil liberties will come to order. without objection the chair, i'm authorized to declare records, recesses of the subcommittee at any time, i welcome everyone to today's hearing, citizens united at 10, cons fenequences for democracy responses by congress and i will recognize myself for an opening statement. can you hear me? >> can you hear me now? i'm not going to talk that way. [laughter]. i'll try to talk closer to the microphone. thank you. this year marks the 10th anniversary of the supreme court's deeply troubling decision in citizens united versus federal election
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commission. now, this is as good as i'm going to do. that decision has resulted in the corrosion of our democracy giving disproportionate amount of-- it will examine the corrosion of this and the flood of dark money our political system has wrought as a result of that decision. in citizens united the supreme court struck down as unconstitution al a ban on corporations and unions, and expressly advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate. the court held wrongly in my view that this ban on first amendment and free speech rights. buckley versus valleo, independent expenditures by individuals. in handing down the decisions citizens united, the supreme
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court overturned decades old precedence that they on spendings and unions. the same year that the supreme court decided citizens united the court of appeals for the u.s. district decided speech now or versus fec, striking down federal limitations by individuals that only made independent expenditures. taken together these two decisions resulted in the rise of the so-called super political action committees or super pacs, because of these decisions, individuals and corporations can make unlimited to pacs with independent expenditures whose donor disclosure rules are much more opaque allowing them dark money. ten years later we're seeing the corrosive effects of mega donors and corporations pouring unlimited amounts of money into our elections. perhaps now more than ever many americans believe their elected
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leaders do not care about them, the politicians only care about raising money and that the people that fund the super pacs that help get them elected. and the money class and political system people feel is rigged against them. they believe their voices will be drowned out, come the ewilkes by the mega phones bought by dark money. mega phones as if they are speech. example after example shows they are right. for instance, most americans, including most gun owners support universal background checks for gun purchases. according to a 2028 quinnipiac universal poll, 97% of gun owners support background checks, despite background checks would be overwhelming ll popular, the grim reaper, also known as mitch mcconnell the majority leader has so far recused to take up hren 8. the bipartisan background check acts that the house passed
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nearly a year ago. perhaps not surprisingly since 2016 the national rifle association spent more than $54 million on outside spending efforts, including $34 million raised from its dark money arm. that's a lot of money and has a big impact on who wins elections. and influences opinions on gun ownership. similarly, americans overwhelmingly support lowering prescription drug prices, according to the henry j kaiser foundation poll 70% of americans believe drug costs are unreasonable and drug companies are putting profits before people. similarly, 92% of americans favored lowering the rate for prescription drugs as an important health policy priority. even president trump during his show of shows also known as state of the union addressed earlier this week in a speech that could otherwise be best described as a campaign rally,
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masquerading as a reality tv show called on congress to pass a bill to dramatically lower drug prices. yet for years congress has done nothing, why? it probably has something to do with pharmaceutical companies army of lobbyists, along with dark money raised by allied super pacs. sadly i could name policy after policy, climate change, to another meltdown where americans overwhelmingly believe that congress should take action, and congress has failed to take such act when targeted by dark money organizations and the people that benefit from that are the leaders of the senate and leaders of the house. and generally, they are not going to favor giving up a tool that gives them more power, particularly on the side that has the most money. the very real danger here is the american people convinced that their voices will be drown out by mega donors and corporate interest will lose
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faith in the enterprise of government and demagoguing any forces. this recently amendment to overturn citizens united, the democracy for all amendment and thank chairman-- representative deutsche for working hard on that for many, many years, passing the constitutional amendment is one of the ways to bring the dark days of the super pac to a close and that mcconnell would take up hr1 to expose dark money-- and she has another bill that goes a little further. passing a constitutional amendment to overturn citizens united should be our ultimate coal. congress should stop the flow of dark money into our election that threatens to erode further the people's faith in our government. and i thing them for appearing
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here and the citizens involved in this issue and i recognize the ranking member, mr. johnson for his opening statement. >> and i know this is a concern for americans on both sides and it's not a surprise that our side has a different view. before i get into opening remarks it's incumbent to remind my good chairman here, it's a violation of house rules on decorum to refer to the majority leader on the other house, the grim reaper, even though he does himself, couldn't do it here. >> out of order. >> so ruled. >> overruled. >> no objection. >> we believe that the supreme court's decision and citizens united issued a decade ago was based on a long line of precedence in accordance with our constitutional history inventory first amendment. as the late justice scalia in citizens united.
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he wrote, in 1791 as now, corporations could pursue only the objectives set forth in their charters, but the dissent provides no evidence that their speech in the pursuant of those objectives should be censured. most of the founders resentment toward corporations was directed at the state granted monopoly privileged that individually chartered corporations enjoyed. modern corporations don't have such, and-- the individual, the person's right to speak, includes the right to speak in association with other individual persons. surely the dissent does not believe that speech by the republican party or the democratic party can be sensored because it's not the speech of individual americans, it's the speech of many different individual americans and giving the party the right to speak on their behalf. the first amendment is in terms of speech not speakers. the text offers no food hold of
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any category of speaker single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated individuals of association, to incorporated individuals, and this is not just a conservative view as you know. american civil liberties union most americans regard as a left or far left organization today, i do. seems generally supportive of the decision. on its website you can find in citizens united the supreme court ruled that independent expenditures by corporations and unions are protected under the first amendment and not subject to restriction by the government. any rule that requires the government to determine what political speech is legitimate and how much political speech is appropriate is difficult to reconcile with the first amendment. our system of free expression is built on the premise that the people get to decide what speech they want to hear, it's know the role of government to make that decision for them. unfortunately, legitimate concern over the influence of
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big money and politics has led some to propose a constitutional amendment to reverse the citizen's united decision. a.c.l.u. will firmly oppose any constitutional amendment that would limit their free speech cause of the first amendment. i don't mind myself in agreement with the a.c.l.u. very often, but they've got to right. a c. lu and justice scalia appear to be on the same page and that's the parchment of our first amendment. i suspect much of what we'll hear today in the sorts of erroneous statements none other than president obama made about the united decision during his 2010 state of the union address in which he opined, quote, the supreme court reversed a century of law i believe will open the flood gates of special interest, including foreign corporations to spend without limit in our elections. unquote. every clause of that sentence was uncorrect. citizens united didn't reverse the sentry of law. and banned donations to
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campaigns and remain band. citizens united overturned 1990, spending by corporations which was itself a stark anomaly in our first amendment la you, the only time needed other than the need for corruption. second the quote flood gates of special interest weren't open. instead of dams preventing the free flow of speech were removed. and we may not always like that speech, but that's what the first amendment is about. as professor brad smith whom we'll hear from today explained new york times accused justices in citizens united much having paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and thrust back to the robber baron of the 19th century. and the same place that individuals who donate directly to candidates up to legally limited amounts. corporations can contribute well under 10% of political
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spending and voice is not dominant and the voters have a right to hear and third, citizens united said nothing about foreign corporations spending in political campaigns. obviously, there's a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation and even dare i say fake news circulated about the supreme court's citizens united decision, but i expect at least part of today's discussion may help us correct those interpretations and look forward to hearing the witnesses today. i want to apologize in advance before i yield back, a lot of us have multiple things going on this morning, we may be in and out, but it's know the a reflection of the importance of this hearing. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. johnson. and mr. napper is not present. he has a statement he wants to introduce, but we thank chairman nadler for his participation in other ways. and mr. connell, a statement to
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enter? also no. we welcome our witnesses and thank them for participating. our first panel is going to be made up of members of congress who have worked hard on this issue. i will introduce each witness and after the introduction, i'll ask them for their testimony. your written statement will be entered into the record in its entirety and you have five minutes and you have five minutes on the rules and the light. and the first witness represented ted deutch, represents the 22nd congressional district in the state of florida. chairman of the house ethics committees, chairman of the house foreign affairs subcommittee on the middle east. north africa, and international terrorism. and a long time member of this house judiciary committee. he is a co-response sore or the prime sponsor of hjres2 that would overturn the decision and
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permit congress and the states to regulate campaign finance. you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. before i begin my testimony, mr. chairman, i have the following documents to be included into the record. written testimony of bipartisan advocates from around the country cluck jeff clement, american promise. john putman, take back our republic. and tim rubens, as well as business executives, farmers, educators, ohio, michigan, tennessee, pennsylvania, kansas. thank you. >> thank you, chairman cohen and ranking member johnson and members. subcommittee. it has been 10 years since the supreme court's disastrous decision in citizens united and i am here today to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn it. in the 5-4 majority opinion, justice kennedy dismissed concerns about corruption caused by limitless spending. he wrote the appearance of
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influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy. but it has. the decision knocked down longstanding bipartisan campaign finance laws. now, there are three primary problems that have crystallized in the citizen united decade. first, extreme election spending destroys any hope of political equality in america. ... government institutions too often focus on their pet projects rather than on the public will. citizens united unleashed a torrent of billions of dollars into our elections. in the 20 years before the
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citizens united decision, $750 million of outside spending. in the tenure since, over $4.5 million. dark money groups are not required to disclose their donors. there's been a jump from one had $29 billion in dollars in the ten years before the decision to a billion dollars since. that can family so spent the most in our elections in the citizens united decade and a total of $1.2 billion. to put that into perspective, it would take 6 million americans spending $200 each to match the spending of these ten families. the flood of spending has distorted the agenda in congress and we now know it is sapping america's faith in our democracy and our government. 84% of americans think that
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special interests comes first year. last year the house passed the for the people's act that would require disclosure and in gerrymandering and make it easier to vote to protect voting rights. but statutory changes alone can't fix the problems created by citizens united. the democracy for all amendment would allow reasonable limits on campaign spending. americans want to get big money out of our elections. the amendment rejects the supreme court's claim that only quid pro quo bribes can corrupt politicians. out and it would level the playing field. would promote political equality and to protect the integrity of our government, institutions and elections. i want to thank the millions of advocates, hundreds of organizations to build the movement to get money out of politics. 20 states and over 800 local
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governments are calling for constitutional amendment. we wouldn't be her today without them. i want to thank vice chair raskin, representative mcgovern, senator udall and shaking for joining the introducing this bipartisan amendment or i i want to thanke 210 cosponsors including congressman chai paul and many members of the subcommittee for their support. and to be clear, this issue is not partisan among the american people. in 2018 the university of maryland reported that 75% of americans, three, three-quarters of all americans, support a constitutional amendment to allow for limits on election spending. that includes 85% of% of democrats, 70% of independents, and two-thirds of republicans. we must overturn citizens united to fulfill the ideals we affirmed at our nations founding
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your democracy for all amendment is necessary because your status in our democracy should not depend upon your status in our economy. whether you work three jobs and barely get by or your own three homes and you barely work, the eyes of our law, the eyes of our government and elections must see all americans as equal. this amendment would get money out of our elections, and most importantly, it will put voters back in charge. with that, mr. chairman, i appreciate the time and i yield back. >> thank you. well-timed and very well delivered. ms. jayapal is next, she is been a leader and congress for many, many progressive issues or chu represents the seventh congressional district of washington state. she's a member of the house judiciary committee which she sits on immigration and antitrust subcommittees. she seen you whip for the
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democratic caucus and cochair of the congressional progressive caucus. and the women's working group on immigration. she sponsor of h.j. res 48 i propose constitutional amendment divides the right to protected by the constitution of the united states are the rights protected of natural persons only. you are recognized for five minutes. thank you. >> chairman cohen, ranking member johnson and members of the subcommittee thank you so much for the opportunity to testify on my bill, house joint resolution 48, the we the people amendment. ten years ago the supreme court issued in its 5-4 landmark ruling in citizens united versus federal elections commission the implications of citizens united reach far beyond electoral politics and political donations. it has had a profound impact on our elections, our policymaking and our daily lives. that is why i am proud to sponsor h.j. res 48 the we the people amendment, a comprehensive solution to the citizens united decision. corporations and a few ultrarich
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have hijacked our election for far too long. the we the people amendment would put powerpack to everyday people but ending corporate personhood and clarifying that money does not equal free speech. speech. citizens united established political spending as protected speech under the first amendment of the constitution and further prevent the government from limiting corporations and other entities from spending money on candidates in elections. this established a dangerous precedent, a a corporate person that the we the people amendment reverses by specifying that the rights provided by the constitution are for real people, individuals, not corporations. the supreme court's decision apart the federal elections commission to all outside groups to accept unlimited political donations giving corporations and the ultrarich unrestricted power in elections. this created an enormous imbalance in power in which the average americans ability to influence elected officials is
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dwarfed by large corporations. as we in congress grapple with radical issues such as climate change, immigration and inequitable health care system, we must recognize the power that those with financial stakes in these industries such as the oil and gas, private prisons and insurance companies exert in our elections. we the people amendment would regulate political donations and mandate public disclosure to ensure transparency and public accountability. yet the impact of citizens united is not limited to the role of money in politics. the freedom of expression granted to corporations in citizens united led to the decision in hobby lobby. the court granted corporation begin busily to opt out of provisions of the affordable care act in order to deny basic healthcare to women employees on the basis that a corporation has
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religious liberty. it puts corporate rights over a woman's right to make decisions about her own body. and it is one more reason why we must limit corporate personhood beyond elections. research has found as my colleague mr. deutch said, the 77% of americans believe there should be limits on the amount that both individuals and groups can spend on campaigns. a timeless, for congress congress to intervene. i am a proud cosponsor of h.r. one, the fourth people are, and of and which democracy for all amendment. i believe congress and the states must do the important work of regulating campaign contributions and distinguishing between people and corporations when creating campaign finance legislation. the we the people amendment goes further to end corporate constitutional rights and ensure that our democracy is really of
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the people, by the people, and for the people. i believe our democratic values are worth more than what corporations can pay. in the citizens united dissenting opinion, justice stevens wrote, corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings. to be sure, and their personhood often serves as useful legal fiction. but they are not themselves members of we the people by whom and for whom our constitution was established. as members of congress, we are here to serve the people, not to serve corporations. we are here to ensure that our democracy is sustained by we the people, and that we in congress, the elected members, elected by
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our constituents, must listen only to we the people. i look forward to working with my colleagues on this committee to reverse the harmful impacts of citizens united and events the goals set forth in this amendment, and i think the movement around the country that has forced us to take on this issue. i yield back. >> thank you for your representation and your testimony. we will have the first panel, thank them for their testimony, the work and dismissed him and call up our second panel of witnesses. and then those of you in the back to me any better? is it still a problem? good, thank you.
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[inaudible conversations] >> normally, i do not have witnesses sworn in or affirmed because i think we shouldn't put people in that particular position, and it's against the law, section 1001 of title 18 of the u.s. code to testify before congress and an untruthful manner which can subject you to penalties and fines. i think that's efficient. mr. johnson who, unfortunately, is that with us now, is a firm proponent in having the oath administered, and i thought that
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people would always tell the truth in knowing that they are subject to fine or imprisonment, at least a fine, to lie to congress. but yesterday that romney, and what was an historic day of congress, showed me that at least one person, at least one person, because they swore their oath to god, it made a difference. so in honor of mitt romney and entering the one person truly does have concern about not giving false witness because they swore an oath to god, i'm going to ask the wind is to stand and be sworn in. [witnesses were sworn in] thank you. let the record show the witnesses have answered in the
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affirmative. our first witness is ellen weintraub. she's a commissioner of the federal election commission, a position she held since 2002. she served as chair of the fcc on three different occasions most recently 2019. she briefly served as counsel to the house ethics committee. she received her j. d. from harvard law school and her ba from yale. you are recognized for five minutes. you know the five-minute, the red light, green light and the rest, thank you. you recognize. >> karakoram, ranking member johnson and members of the subcommittee thank you for inviting me to testify today. it's a pleasure to be part of such a distinguished panel at a particular pushed me to appear with my old friend and former colleague brad smith. i call call put the minority reflecting such an esteemed panel is. in the decade since its united, according to the center for responsive politics we have seen $1.2 billion given to candidates, parties and outside spending groups from just the
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top ten contributors. we have not seen who's behind the nearly $1 billion that been spent by dark many groups that keep their donor secret. there is 4.5 .0 and on party outside spending, 12 times as much per year as in the 20 years before citizens united. the spending went to the most competitive races were has the biggest impact a special or control of the chamber is up for grabs. from 2000-2006 nasa by the candidate spending exceeded outside spending in the top ten most expensive senate races in every single race. but by 2014 after citizens united, citizens united, outside spending top candidate spending in seven of those top ten races. in those races the outside group spent an average of 80% more than the candidates. even in the face this citizens united doorsteps codis can take right now to reduce the risk of corruption to address important issues like coordination, coercion, disclosure and foreign nationals binny.
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some of the solution are well known to members of the subcommittee. h.r. one which passed the house in 2019 contain many useful reform proposals requiring better disclosure of large donors, clarifying the spending and applies the issue, grading a small dollar matching public financing program, creating a democracy voucher pilot program, reform of financing of inaugural committees, requiring shell company to disclose a beneficial owners, extending election and communications disclosure requirements to online ads and recording a public file of online political ads. one reform that would aid in the port an effort to exclude foreign money from our system was in an earlier version of h.r. one. that would've required operations spending and politics to certify they are complying with the four national medical spending the entire jew to restore it. the supreme court in upholding conjugation limit recognize the reality or appearance of
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corruption inherit in a system permitting unlimited financial contributions even when the identities of the consumed and the amount of their contributions are fully disclosed. the conservation limit have undermined by joint fundraising committees that collect upwards of half a million dollars from donors so-called cromnibus accounts which will contribute to get the national party committee with a $1.5 million per person per election cycle. candidates publicly announce which a super pac they favor and encourage people to support it. candidate post videos themselves for the apparent purpose inviting super pacs to use it in ads. congress should adopt new law
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making crystal clear it were going to independence bankruptcy must be truly independent of the candidates. in in a power corporation citizs united greater opportunities for a scrupulous employers to pressure the employees to engage in political activity on behalf of management favored candidate for congress should adopt new laws to protect employees from coercion. the proliferation of super pacs has also given rise to new opportunity for con artist, scan pacs have become an increasing problem. the chief concern with his united unleashed corporate political spin was fortune 1000 companies would use their the es financial might to dominate political discourse. that has not been the biggest impact. it is the billion or mega-donors whose role has been supercharged in the super pac era. the top 1% of super pac donors accounted for an astonishingly 96% of funding to these groups in 2018. no statute statute, no
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regulation fec advisory opinion can touch is probably only a judicial constitution reversal of citizens united can get to the root of it. while i know this is not within the house purview, we could use some new commissioners to restore our coral and let us do our job so tell your friends. again thank you for inviting me who did it and i for to your questions. >> you're welcome and thank you for your testimony. our second with this is robert weissman. mr. weissman is president of public citizen, he's an expert on corporate and government accountability. including the effect of money in politics. prior to joining public citizen he worked as director of a corporate accountability or position, i think of action from 1995-2009. from 1989-2009 he nine. from 1989-2009 he was editor of multinational, a magazine that attract multinational corporations. he received his j. d. from harvard magna cum laude and is
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recognized for five minutes. where did you get your undergraduate degree? >> harvard as well. >> a long lease. >> thank you very much, chairman cohen and members of the committee. citizens united is the diplomatic decision of the new gilded age in which we live. it represents, it ratifies, and it worsens the extreme wealth and income inequality that defines our current societal situation. it has empowered a very tiny number of people to have a disproportionate widely disproportionate influence over who runs for office, who wins elections, what candidates say, what candidates don't say and what officeholders do, what officeholders are even allowed to permitted to say and to be taken seriously when in office. when i say a small number of people i member of very small number of people. 25 individuals are responsible
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for half of all super pac contributions made since the citizens united decision was handed down. 25 individuals. .01% of donors, .21% of donors are responsible for roughly 40% of all campaign contributions now. there's of course important race component of this as well given the tracking of race and wealth in our country, almost all of the top 100 super pac donors are white, our analysis shows what citgo contribute 20 times the amount to campaigns as majority-minority zip codes do. if not a napster issue. it is a deeply felt issue that touches every single issue this congress and our administration undertake. to take one example as mentioned by representative deutsch, the american people of woman what actual drug pricing president trump called for action for pricing to 90% people aggressive action to do with drug pricing. they have wanted for for a long
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time. it hasn't happened. there's no mystery why it is due the disproportionate political influence of big pharma. take another example, we face a potential crisis for humanity and catastrophic climate change. this congress has been unable to do anything about it. why? it traces directly back to the political power of the dirty energy industries. it's true for issue after issue with the wall street reform or food safety or living which are common sense can sit, expanded social street consumer privacy, pose -- the within a constant, protecting clean water, almost anything you'd aim is touched by this issue and it traces back to the disproportionate influence of big money in our elections where the gender that the american people want overwhelmingly is not furthered by this congress because of the political power of these large entities. it doesn't have to be so. citizens united is rooted in a
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series of very significant flaws both in constitutional terms, a stork terms and common sense to them. if that just citizens united. it is the entirety of modern campaign finance jurisprudence. citizens united itself famously rests on the illogical assertion i corporations have the same rights to influence the election outcomes as to human beings. there are series of other flawed notions underlay the decision as well including spending on advertising should be given the same rights of political speech is speech itself. the required supreme court to contort itself to come up with a very narrow conception of what amounts to corruption nothing other than bribery effectively. yet they've and understood a pro quo corruption itself would work. they adopted needlestick craft understanding of a what corruption is excluding concerns about excessive influence and access and they ignore most important the systemic effects
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of the decision in a modern campaign finance jurisprudence to empower the superrich and destroy the political system and denied the political equality that is at the core of what american democracy is all about. polling shows americans are furious at the state of affairs, outraged by what they perceived to be widespread corruption and their overwhelming in the sport for fundamental campaign finance reform. indeed democratic legitimacy itself is at stake. democratic legitimacy itself is at stake. the congress must take action. a true one is a vitally important step. this house has passed it. the senate should get on with the business of doing the same thing. h.r. one is not enough. cannot you with the problems outside spinning and cannot do with, so financing and the current trend the supreme gorgeous prints just even elements of h.r. one might be threatened in the future by an endlessly creative supreme court majority. there is overwhelming support
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for a constitutional amendment among the american people to overturn citizens united and related decisions. it does not support among democrats only. it crosses party line. it is felt about the country. it is overwhelming, it is reflected in 20 states have passed resolutions calling for constitutional amendment, more than 800 cities and towns that call for a constitutional amendment. yet strong enough to urge congress to take action to pass h.j. res two and send it to the states for ratification to restore our democracy. thank you very much. >> thank you. our next witness is mr. bradley smith, rarely is a witness thanked for, and complement by the site, so you are special. the joshua blackmore second know capital -- professor lachman initially affords on election
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law and second financial and co-author of polarized election law meeting casebook in super he served for five years as member of the fec and chair of the commission 2004. he received his j. d. cum laude from harvard law school. can't anyone of you get accepted at another school? professor, you are recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman and members of the committee. i guess i begin simply by saying that repeatedly calling the decision of disaster doesn't really make it so, and we haven't really heard much evidence that actually ties the idea that people can't enact their preferences to anything that is come about from citizens united. in fact, citizens united had a number of beneficial effects on american society. we were told it would lead to an oligarchy, a group of people would strangle american democracy and yet instead in the
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years since citizens united, politics in america has been more fluid. congressional incumbent reelection rates have declined. that made up the good news for all of you, but it cuts against the argument that's been made against citizens united. we've seen either congress or the president morsi has changed hands in four of the five election cycles since citizens united. there are more newcomers in congress by about 40% each time around. that may be good news for some of you who are among those newcomers. outsiders such as the president himself, such as at least possible contender to the election in the general election, send a percentage of people such as aoc have been complete outsiders have dramatically shaken up the system and defeated sort of entrenched inside typically by spending far less money. we find the trend for women being elected office has
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continued and the are other things that are interesting. for example, the rate of spending increase in american policy has declined considerably since citizens united i don't think this because of citizens united but it cuts against the notion that this is some disaster leading to this massive explosion is spinning. it's just not really so. we find that most money in politics dramatically so still comes from individuals and announce limited under the law. the vast majority still comes a limited individual contributions. but corporate contributions which make up at about suppose, dimming of how how one wants a calculated and what we do with a small percentage of money, about two or 3% that a so-called dark money, how much of that we think might be corporate money, we take the worst case, ice case scenario, talking the 5% of of spending, maybe 6% coming from for-profit corporations. that's hardly drowning anybody out and the fact it's a good thing. the american people have write you those voices.
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they should hear those voices and polling data shows they want to hear those voices. and believe that business has a right to comment on issues of concern. finally, it's important to remember what the case was all about. it was the position of the chinese government that it could censure a book or a movie if the book or movie wasn't any stage produced or distributed with corporate funds, like every of the book or you've ever bought on amazon or in a bookstore or seen in a theater or seen on cable or streaming television. that was the position of the government that you could censure this. in that respect the position of formulas of the supreme court endorsed that is a truly radical view that we saw in citizens united. we've heard a lot about in both the opening panel and from my colleagues here about all these policy initiatives that it been blocked, and it's cursed me they all happen to be very policy preferences of the american
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political left. there's nothing wrong with the political left having policy preferences that the idea you're not able to enact their policy preferences unless you can kneecapped people who oppose those is hardly something that the first amendment and horses. indeed that's why we have a first amendment so you can kneecapped your opponents in order to shut them up so you can pass whatever policies you want. we had the nra used as an example. the nra has three to 5 million members, u.s. citizens, people who are out there and they get testy about these issues, the talk to neighbors and work on these issues and that's why these things sometimes don't come through. i remind you it's is not impossible to pass legislation. medicare, social security, the voting rights act, the civil rights act, these things all past when contributions even from individuals were unlimited and almost never reported because there was no enforcement mechanism even on reporting. when we look at things more
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rationally, , we see while american people don't like citizens united when they're asked specific questions like, do you think corporation should be able to speak in elections, when we ask, do you think citizens united should've been able to show its movie, we find majorities in some cases substantial majorities do, in fact, favor those positions. and so again i say citizens united has been good for the united states, but mostly it's really good for the first amendment precisely because it does with a first amendment is supposed to do, is a check. thank you. >> thank you. finally our last witness is ms. ciara torres-spelliscy, professor of law at stimson called a lovely, teaches election law, corporate government, business and prior to joining factious counsel in the tamoxifen program of the brennan center for justice at nyu school of law where she provided guidance on the issue of money in politics. she was a staffer for richard durbin up on the hill. she received her j. d. from
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columbia university and her a.b. from harvard. professor, you are recognized for five and a. >> thank you. good morning. my name is ciara torres-spelliscy. i live in a swing district in the swing state of florida. my law students are republicans, democrats and independents and i need to tell you that american voters are worried about the state of our elections after the attacks on our democracy in 2016. what american voters see from congress and from the federal election commission is not reassuring. looks like they cannot get out of their own way to protect the integrity of american elections. this was true before 2016, but after 2016 it's nothing short of excruciating to watch congress and the fcc not act in the face of either enemies. now without a quorum the fec is more powerless than ever at a time when the 2020 election
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already has candidate debates, large-scale rallies, primary votes, and big political fundraising to the tune of over $2 billion already. nearly a decade ago i told congress right after citizens united that i could predict two problems with bringing corporate money into our democracy. a lack of shareholder consent and a lack of transparency. and i wish my prediction had not come true, but it did. today i will focus on the lack of transparency which is better known as the dark money problem. dark money has plagued our election since 2008. to date, over $1 billion in in dark money has been spent in federal elections alone. with dark money you can see the puppet dance but you can't see the puppeteer. and after the 2016 election, americans really deserve to know whether any of those upper tiers were foreign nationals or foreign governments.
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-- puppeteers. as under in my book we know from the redacted mueller report as well as indictments of russians by the special counsel's office that russians were trying to influence the 2016 election, including by purchasing political ads on facebook rubles. it nearly any other area of the law what happens with dark money would be a can to money laundering, but in election law most dark money is actually legal. the fec is a primary regulator with the ability to stop dark money and instead they basically done nothing. the fec could've started rulemaking to end dark money even before citizens united, because the problem appeared before 2010. the typical way that dark money is greater is by spending through an opaque nonprofit like a 501(c)(4) or a 501(c) six and then porous rules at the fec have allowed donors to remain
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anonymous. the only change that has come was that the order of a federal court. one thing american voter still do not know is whether dark money is hiding illegal foreign money. and because the fec has large been stuck in deadlock, even investigations or punishment for foreign spending has largely been lacking. as i discussed in my first book, corporate citizen, and a particularly colorful episode, a foreign pornographer spent in a los angeles election 2012. this spending violated long-standing bans on foreign money in american elections, whether they are federal, state or local. but the fec would not enforce the law against the foreign pornographer. if the fec is our greatest in the up to a foreign pornographer, it begs the question, who would they stand up against? this general lack of enforcement against foreign spending has
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sent a terrible message to anyone who was paying attention. the message is campaign finance law is basically not being a force at the federal level by the fec, and as american voters face 2020, the department of justice is the only copy left on the beat. but doj can only enforce willful and egregious violations of law. this leaves a vast wasteland of unenforced campaign-finance laws where cheating and corner cutting it all but invited. and this happens as american voters are asked to choose the next president, all of the members of the house, a third of the senate, 11 governors, and 45 state legislatures. given the expense of 2016 with russians breaking american election laws with abandon, the lesson for north korea, china, iran, or any of the hostile nation is that interference in our elections can be done with
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little consequence. so the fec needs a full complement of commissioners so that they can at least act. if you're serious about reform, you need to add an additional seat to the fec so that every other federal agency, they have an odd number of commissioners so that they can enforce the law instead of ending and a deadlock. and you can approve disclosure by either changing election laws are changing securities laws, or possibly both. and, of course, you could expand what congress can constitutionally regulate if the constitution is amended to address citizens united end of the campaign-finance cases like buckley. but in our constitutional system, the fate of the nation is in your hands. thank you. >> thank you very much. we'll now have a round of questioning other members of the committee, and i will start with myself. we have five minutes as well.
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mr. weissman, give a lot of history in corporate law. give me a little primer on corporations and their involvement in politics and her ability to spend money. have they always been able to spend money and politics? is it unique to america? two different countries allow them to spend money in politics? what's the growth or diminution of that? >> well, i think that the statement from, which was correctly read from justice scalia in his decision that the original tax permits corporations spend money is knackered. justice stevens gave a a much richer and more correct reading. the framers never intended for corporations to spend money. is a lot of reason to think explicitly did not want them to the justice scalia's only are you really was there was a lack of evidence, not that that was affirmative evidence to enable corporations to spend money. in the early -- as you know, we do have a history of
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corporations spend the money. it varies by state. in the original gilded age we had corporations and the robber barons overwhelming elections and really running as party bosses. there were reforms put in place to curb that activity and those reforms worked relatively effectively throughout much of the 20th century. corporate spending itself really had not been given, there'd been a series of restrictions on corporate spending and the supreme court itself in an important decision, austin, recognize the unique nature of corporations, the unique ability to gather enormous sums and it made a lot of sense for the congress or localities and states to have the ability to restrict corporate outside spending. that was thrown to the wind in citizens united. and mr. smith is correct. we've not seen the torrents that were anticipated. we tie clip about half the brain dollars have been spent by
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corporation since the citizens united decision, not a small amount to much of it in with a significant ways, a local and state elections as well as in referenda we see corporations increasingly exerting an overwhelming effect with great harm. that's probably more than i could do right now to give you a cross-cultural story about it, but citizens united really was a break from precedent, both historic jewish prudential president but also from the previous 100 years of american experience that. >> the $7 $7 billion figure, my been mr. deutch mentioned, the priest 20 years there isn't any deity you have to show if that has affected americans believe that the government is not responsible to them? >> in my written testimony either extensive information and holding on this is overwhelming.
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about americans deep concern with corruption. asked by one pollster to rate 22 different attributes of american life, they campaign spending system comes and lasted only 20% of people are satisfied in that poll with the current campaign cirencester that's a pretty high number compared other pollsters. the "new york times" found that with near unanimity, their quote, americans want to replace the current finances in. the only dispute among americans they found was whether they believe the current system needs a fundamental change our should be completely rebuilt. it's hard to know which one is more fundamental thing they're trying to get at. but we also see very deep concerns about corruption generally and dissatisfaction with american government and really i think the fear calls into question whether people believe in whether the government works for them. they are not wrong being skeptical about that.
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>> use 25 top individual. teddy giving the top ten names? >> will, two of the top names now are sheldon adelson and michael bloomberg. top ten i can give you off the top of my head. >> thank you. mr. deutch bill deals with campaign finance and her stiff with other issues. i can see a theory that corporations kind of, he to sit because i don't even like the word anymore, but andrew schwartz theory that if it's good for the corporation, then it's good for the stockholders and they have a duty to see the business goes for them whatever. for putting money into politics that might affect their businesses. but how can you say that a corporation can express a religious opinion? that's not necessary -- like hobby lobby. is there any basis to think that a corporation should have the right? they are formed partially so they don't have to be responsible for liability.
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they are immune from liability. why should they people have a right on what insurance is covered? >> i agree and support ms. jayapal's bill. it seems extraordinary to me but to be clear, that was what the supreme court held in citizens united as well. if you read the majority decision, is a lot of concern about discriminating against minorities at him with right to express the feelings hopes and aspirations. discriminate against minorities, majority decision, our corporations, that's the set of people, people, if i were being discriminate against and waited have a go to express what they feel. they don't have feelings as justice stevens expressed in great detail, they don't have feelings. they don't hurt. they don't care about the future. they care about profit. that was lost entirely in the supreme court's decision there as well in the hobby lobby case and others. >> thank you, sir. mr. armstrong is sitting in as ranking member and i will recognize him for five minutes.
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>> thank you, thank you, mr. ch. corporation in my town sponsored baseball fields, youth teams, charities. i'm incredibly proud of the corporate citizens that exist and without they would not have lot of the services that exist in my local community and the think that's accurate with small towns all across the country. professor smith, and six that only allowed corporations to spend that unions, to come exat correct? >> yes. >> and if the afl-cio file a brief in the lawsuit? >> yes, it did. >> it has been suggested by commissioner weintraub that the existence of any foreign shareholder in a corporation should prohibit that corporation from making medical expenditures. expenditures. how would that affect unions? >> there has been a certain effort to whip up, and i'll be very blunt here, i think i did shameful effort to whip up a sort of hysteria against his idea that foreigners are coming in to influence our elections. it's worth noting the afl-cio
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has at least two dozen affiliates that have the term international right in their name plus many other affiliates that do take international members as well. those all pay dues. ask me has canadian affiliates and so on. so yes, to adapt the conflicting position were essentially shut labors out of the political discussion. >> you've know how many, how many unions? >> i don't know total. afscme has at least two dozen members. they just have the national in the name in terms of number who have international members could be larger. >> thank you. do soapbox disclose their donors? >> super pacs due disclose their donors the sense any other pac that is any contributor who contributes in the aggregate over $200 is disclosed. >> did citizens united change any disclosure laws? >> no, we did not.
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>> let's go to my next question to you said in your prepared testimony that dark money is typically around 3.5% of total spending. how do we know that if it is not disclose? >> that's a good question. we keep hearing the kitchen restore-l, it's been 100 billion or a billion or whatever. that sounds like a lot but it would think of that as 2.5 or 3.5% it doesn't sound quite so threatening. we know that sometimes people say we don't know how much there is because it's a dark but, in fact, we do because spenders have to report all that they spend. we can look at the total amount that are spent. all the dark money needs is an organization doesn't have to report the names of each and every donor to that organization. so even if we assumed all that were dark money, some of it is not, we get up to that small figure that's been consistently since citizens united under 5%. we find many of the spenders are very well-known to the public.
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for example, leading dark money groups include groups like the environmental defense fund, planned parenthood action fund, naacp action fund, the u.s. chamber of commerce, national association of realtors. i just don't think most americans are sitting around going national association of realtors? what are they about? most americans understand the point of your spending represented in those cases. >> after citizens united there's still constitutional limits of what disclosures and the mandated? >> there are. citizens united did uphold existing law, but too many people have suggested that gives a green light to any kind of disclosure. in buckley v. valeo, the landmark campaign finance case and also members of the cases over the years, mcintyre versus ohio, in cases outside of the direct political arena such as thomas versus college, the supreme court has limited the ability of the government to force disclosure never shipped to something that infringes on
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first amendment rights of association petition and speech. >> what does the majority of speech about candidates spinning on campaign ads come from both before and after citizens united? >> the vast majority as indicated in my opening comments does come from individual contributions to campaigns and also to pacs. some people seem to think pacs are corporate money but they're also individual contributions. it's pretty say a corporation sponsors of packet which employee shareholders can contribute but again that's individually and not money from the corporate treasury. >> what role do you think citizens united place and the trend of billionaire candidates with president trump the last election of this one michael bloomberg, tom steyer, self-funded candidates? >> one thing is of course that was authorized individuals prior to citizens united, individuals have the right to spend as much as they wanted. that really didn't change by citizens united. given the short time i will just say that a think we can see it
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hasn't really worked. mr. styron stier spent a greatf money and doesn't have very much to show for you select have a winning message and all the money does is let you come with the american people here and that's a good thing the american bill of rights to hear but it them in some pavlovian way. >> of interest to see if mr. bloomberg is still second now that he's running for president so that will be interesting. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, sir. mr. raskin, you are ready to for five minutes. >> welcome to all our distinguished witnesses today at all of the natural persons have come to participate in today's proceeding. the first thing that it want to point out is that citizens united did not enlarge the free speech rights that any citizen in the united states, but even ceos or corporate executives who could spend already whatever they wanted as independent expenditures under buckley v. valeo. all that citizens united did was
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to transform every corporate treasury in america to potential medical slush fund and thereby authorize and empower the ceos of the corporations to spend whatever they wanted of other peoples money in the corporate treasury's in political campaigns. and this declaration did transform, to my understanding, two sentries of jurisprudential understanding of what a corporation is. you can go back to chief justice john marshall's opinion and 1819 in the dartmouth college versus woodward case where he said a corporation is an artificial entity, invisible, intangible, existing only in contemplation of law possessing only the right conferred upon it by the state legislature, not the constitutional rights of the people. and yet the roberts court in citizens united endowed private
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corporations, these invisible, intangible artificial entities with the political rights of the people, essentially arming the ceos with the power to spin other peoples money that justice brandeis terms it in political campaigns. and for all of the reasons stated by several of the witnesses, that has occasioned a dramatic change in the character and the quality of american politics. now, i favor a constitutional amendment for the same reason that i support all the constitutional amendments that have reversed reactionary jurisprudence by the supreme court. that's how we got women's suffrage in the 19th amendment which toppled the supreme court's decision in minor, saying women did not get the right under the 14th or 15th amendment. the 14th amendment and the 15th and the 13th reversed the supreme court's reactionary decision in the dred scott case before the civil war.
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it's how we got the 26th amendment, the 24th a minute. most of our amendments have been democracy deepening, suffrage enlarging, democracy perfecting amendments where the people have to overturn pinched and reactionary understanding of the supreme court. but until we get there, i wanted to take up an issue that comes at us citizens united because justice kennedys can see it is majority decision is that the corporations are speaking for the shareholders. the corporations derive their first amendment political rights from the first amendment rights are human beings who own stock in the corporation but there's a problem, which is the corporations are spending all of this money and putting money into political campaigns and dark money channels and so on without ever consulting the shareholders themselves. and, in fact, in most cases not even notifying the shareholders
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and they've been doing everything in their power to fight in both the sec and cftc efforts to get just noticed to people of how they money in the corporation is be spent. i introduce a measure which became part of h.r. one which i call shareholders united. in shareholders united says no corporation shall be allowed to spend any money in politics and tell you notify the shareholders of the proposal and to authorize an advance by majority vote that the money be spent and a political campaign. i'm wondering if each of you if you could go quickly and forgive us because we've got our five-minute structure here, but would you agree that as long as we're living under the regime of citizens united, that the shareholders should have the right to be apprised of proposed political spending by corporations of their money and they should have the right to vote on it? i know this an argument that they should have to be 100% vote, but at the very least they
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should be a majority vote for the corporation goes ahead and spends the money. i could start with you, madam chair. >> yes. >> absolute. and as you know more million people have a question from the fec to issue a rule exactly what you're suggesting. >> professor smith, do you agree. >> no, this is a complex question of their many things corporations do, including things that affect politics that they don't require shareholder approval for. >> i wholeheartedly endorse your bill. i think shareholders should have the right to consent to corporate political spending, and that would bring american law in line with the uk where shareholders in uk companies do have the right to preapproved corporate political spending. >> thank you, mr. raskin. >> i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate it. i would note one of the things we had that you can does is the
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first amendment. the majority of citizens united maintain political speech is indispensable to a democracy which is no less true because speech comes from a corporation. but jordan also held the bcra disclosure requirements were constitutional reasoning the disclosure is justified by governmental interest in providing the electorate with information about election related spending resources. the court also upheld the disclosure requirements for political advertising sponsors and upheld the ban on direct observations to candidates from corporations and unions. what it did not use overturn centuries of law. rather it over to of the mccain-feingold to become law in 2002. another love it when a defect in the 1940s, and two supreme court decisions from 1990 and 2003. so i i would ask professor smi, in your prepared testimony you, quote, part of the oral argument
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in citizens united in which the government argues that as a meta- constitutional law, it can ban books or movies if corporate resources are used into production or distribution is that correct? >> yes. >> and can we talk about whether this is really a danger? >> yeah. you know, citizens united was rescheduled after the first oral argument. and in the second oral argument then solicitor general kagan argued we would never actually do that. that, in fact, the fec from time to time has done that. in a little noticed 1987 advisory opinion advisory opinion, the fec informed u.s. news and world report that the publication of a book would not be exempt under the press exemption because it was not a periodical, that it would therefore be potentially illegal to distribute the book. maybe that was another so much because in the end u.s. news was only going to do that.
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it was dismissed and of the cusp of the fec made that point. just in the last decade, the fec spent almost two years investigating publication and distribution of the book, one written by george soros, and it was eventually dismissed but it should be noted that the general counsel in the case recommended that the fec find a violation due to distribution of a book about policy because the bubble of america swimsuit because it includes such radical statements as it is not enough to defeat resident bush at the polls, and we can regain the moral high ground only by rejecting president bush when he stands for reelection. that was considered enough that the book could be potentially banned. i do think it's a real issue. i note when justice kagan are now justice kagan, then solicitor general, was asked about pamphlets? pamphlets we van. i think, we definitely go for pamphlets. this is a copy of common sense, the great revolution tracked by thomas paine.
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5-4, 58 pages that includes a couple of cover pages. is is a book or a pamphlet? i will ask you all to vote for because you're the legislators who will get to decide whether or not this can be published or whether not this can be banned as a pamphlet. >> thank you. some of our democratic colleagues in the senate have prepa's introduce a constitutional amendment to overturn citizens united. the amendment would allow congress to regulate the getting and spending money on political advocacy but explicitly carves out the press. do you have any views on that approach? >> i do. if i may i want to go back and briefly address something that my old colleague law professor going back and forth, you got your j. d. from harvard, too, is that right? >> all ask the questions. >> i think we should probably note that again. but in any case, when think i did want to, though is who has benefited? we have seen this toward 20 from
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fortune 100 companies. the corporations are small corporations and most can't afford to operate a pac. they can't afford to have a lobbyist here and those of the corporations that are really benefiting from this. those are closely held corporations were i think we can usually find a shareholder benefit. your specific question regarding the press i think it's worth noting the supreme court has never held that the press has rights that other american citizens do not. there is polling data that shows if you ask people she would limit spending but the press is exempt, support for limiting spending drops to medically. people don't think the press should have exemptions. less than 50% support restricted spending if the press as exempt or they don't see any reason why discussed just because their members of the national press club get to talk about politics, spent a ton of money, jeff bezos can buy a newspaper and spend a ton of money but what else cannot. the supreme court has not recognize a specific record the press has ability of all americans to speak. it's not a right attitude to a
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certain group of people who got a degree from columbia journalism school. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, sir. >> i i want to focus on somethig that commissioner weintraub mentioned earlier, and that's residential inaugural fund. i introduced a bill which was folded into h.r. one call the inaugural fund integrity act, because of concerns that have come out about donations to and spending by these funds. those funds have grown exponentially during the time since citizens united came out. so the obama inauguration fund in 2012, i guess, sent $53 million, , record, and the trump inaugural fund back in 2016 raised over $107 million. so 250 people gave, people,,
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corporations can 91% of the funds, and 47 people or corporations gave more than a million dollars. there are concerns about these inaugural funds because in a way if you're donating to a candidate, is the way to making of that, there's no guarantee they will get in but if you're giving to inaugural fund, that person has already been elected and that raises some really serious concerns about transparency and quid pro quo, et cetera. .. in addressing the inaugural
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fund integrity act was to put some limits on. fusion spending by these inaugural funds to try to block foreign corporations and foreign nationals from giving money and there are issues with that with respect to mister parnas to block print fraud donors so in your experience commissioner weintraub, can you tell us what issues you're seeing with respect to transparency in donationsin the inaugural funds ? >> as you know congresswoman there is not that much law governing inaugural funds which is interesting in light of the points that you just make that people who have already been elected , there is no risk there. you know who you're giving the money to and i am concerned that there is for example no limitation on contributions in the name of
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another which is a core provision of the rest of the federal election campaign act that is not part of the restrictions on inaugural funds so there's a limit, you're not supposed to get foreign money and there's no way of really getting behind that because you don't have a restriction on contributions in the name of another how do you know that the people who say they are giving the money are giving their own money and that it's not coming from a foreign source or some other source? so i think there are big transparency problems with the current regime and i applaud you for your efforts to try to fill some of those holes . >> basically, if we did some of what inaugural fund integrity act tried to do which is to apply the restrictions apply to other campaign finance to inaugural funds, thatwould help the process . and it just seems like that's important this year given the fact that someone will be elected president and we will
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be dealing with another inaugural fund so now might be a good timeto put some brakes on what's going on . mister wiseman, do you have anythingto add their ? >> i'd like to applaud you for the effort and to elaborate, we don't know where the money is spent from this campaign so assuming there's a quick pro quote analysis or a corrupted analysis, i was worried about issues of self-enrichment. if a donor note knows that not just the committee but the president or people around the president may benefit as was the case, we know that money was wasted when trump was elected, that's an incentive to give the money in expectation of something coming out of it and that believes i refers to a million-dollar contribution from dow chemical and they found it was able to get benefits onspecific regulatory measures in the
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trump epa . it's exactly the kind of corruption that should be intolerable in our system and we need safeguards to prevent this from going forward. >> thank you, i yelled back. >> missed dean, you're recognized for five minutes. >> i appreciate the chance to hear from the specifier, to talk about this important issue. i will start with commissioner weintraub, some say the proliferation of private money is not the result of citizens united. sit in the united called a corporation independently to support or oppose candidates for office, yet a few for-profit corporations spend money in political campaigns in their own names so citizens united can be all that bad they say but a simple review of the numbers shows there is a problem and it's tied directly to the supreme court's ruling in a pre-citizens united 2008 residential election outside
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spending totaled $338 million . we saw that within your testimony and in the 2012 presidential election, the first after the supreme court's decision outside spending totaled over $1 billion and you how citizens united, this is the premise of this underlying hearing, that decision changed the influence of money in the political process despite a dramatic increase in over corporate expenditures? >> there are a variety of ways citizens united has had this huge impact which i think everybody gets that . in the first place when corporations spend and corporations can get to super pacs, super pacs disclose their donors but the corporations often will be a shield against disclosing who is behind the money so you will get the abc super pack reports that they have a million-dollar contribution on the abc 501(c) four and who's giving money to the abc
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501(c) four? we don't know that so there's a huge transparency problem that arises in the late from letting corporationsgive but as i said , i think the biggest impact of citizens united is it took the gloves off. when the broad language in citizens united about how ingratiating and assets can't be corrupting, first of all i think that flies in the face of most people's commonsense understanding . if it is corrupting to give $3000 rectally to your campaign account, how can that not be corrupting to give $3 million to the super pack that is doing nothing but tryingeither to elect you or defeat you ? how does that not have any potential for corruption? i think most people don't get that. i think it doesn't make sense and that's why it's such an unpopular decision because it flies in the face of how people think about corruption.
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but this broad language really emboldens a lot of folks who i think before were thinking boy, somebody might think this is corrupting if i gave $1 million to try and get the candidate or to elect a candidate so maybe i shouldn't do that and now they find out i can't possibly be held accountable for that so therefore, i am going to up my giving and all this freedom, it only affects the very narrow band of people who have $1 million to put into a campaign or in some cases multimillion dollars. that is not freedom for most americans. most americans aren't going to be able to partake of that additional liberty that the supreme court has granted them and it does reframe the debate. it does involve billionaires as sort of dominating the political discourse. in ways that are sometimes
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not transparent. we have seen folks go through incredible permutations of moving money from one organization to another organization to another organization that they are afraid we might here's the first bail but we won't get through the second or third or fourth and there's somebody who's litigating this up to the supreme court right now totry and hide the money . so there has been an explosion in the role of the mega-donors and i think that has been the biggest incident's there's so much more i'd like to ask you but i took a look at what you said in your testimony about the impact of how hr one would be helpful. on the issue of coordination that you just described logically how things are nontransparent and hidden, how about the notion if i say publicly, we didn't coordinate. can you the problem of super pacs cannot coordinate with candidates and yet always so easily see folks getting
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around that? >> the coordination was written before the super backs existed and despite my repeated efforts to launch rulemaking to update and in light of citizens united i've never been able to get the floor votes to do that. i feel compelled to say all the things that professor torres-spelliscy's policy was complaining about, i was on the other side of trying to get things done. we have candidates who show up at super pack events and tell their supporters that's my favorite super pack, you can go ahead and support them and you will be supporting me and people post things publicly and try and get around it, it's not a secret conversation, i'm telling the world i love that super pack, i'm telling the world that what would be useful to me. i'm posting this video on my webpage and it's silent, there's no purpose to having this on anybody's webpage
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other than for somebody else to list it and incorporate it into a campaign commercial on their behalf. >> thank you very much andas my time has expired thank you for your indulgence . >> missed escobar, you are recognized. >> thank you mister chairman and thanks to our panelists, i appreciate you all today. miss weintraub i have questions about the commission. things that i'm really curious about. when was the last time the commission met with a quorum? >> that would have been august 2019. >> how many cases areawaiting a hearing ? >> we have roughly 300 enforcement matters and right now over 100 the last time i checked it was 119 of those were awaiting some kind of decision from commissioners which requires us to have four commissioners make that decision.
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>> how far back in terms of the cases that are waiting to be adjudicated by you all, how far back to those complaints go in terms of when they were first reported to the sdc? >> there's a variety of complaints, there's a five year statute of limitations and particularly in the reporting area, sometimes there's a continuing violation even after the events that your reporting happened. you have an ongoing obligation to report what came in and what money went out so it was sometimes we were able to extend, sometimes we get tolling agreements but for the most part, we are limited to a five-year tactic of limitations and the clock is ticking on a number of the cases sitting in front of us right now. >> i'll give you an example of why there's probably no incentive for the president and others to ensure that we have a functioning fec. in my community, el paso
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texas the president came and had a campaign rally and he owes the city of el paso half $1 million for all of the services that the city, that the local government had to provide them the center for public integrity in june reported that this is not, that there is a single instance where a campaign has failedto pay its bills , its outstanding debt but in the fact of the trump campaign this is a pattern and there are a number of local governments and so it's a vicious cycle, unfortunately. there's no incentive for the president to want accountability by having a fully seated, fully functioning fec because you might be held accountable and you know how he feels about accountability . >> i don't want to comment on any particular case. let me just say that while we
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lost a quorum last august when one of my colleagues decided to resign , i had two other colleagues who resigned two years ago and three years ago respectively so there was a very long run up to this when we had two vacancies, 1d, 1r when this could have been fixed so that we wouldn't have been in this situation last august when the most recent commissioner left and why those seats were filled for 2 and 3 years i can't tell you. >> we can only wonder why. mister wiseman, thank you so much for your response miss weintraub. mister weissman, we have seen incredible, usually consequential involvement from russia in our elections. and this meddling in our elections is not limited to russia and we now know after what happened yesterday the acquittal, that there will not be accountability or
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inviting foreign assistance into our elections, at least for the president, there's no accountability so many of us are very concerned about outside involvement in our election. you mentioned that citizens united allows foreign actors to influence those elections as well, is that correct? >> not legally, but yes. >> can you expand on what that involvement might be mark. >> the reporting has come out from the lands parnas tape is instructive. that tape which most of the attention was focused on the conversation about the ukraine but it was a donor event, a c pack donor event where the donors were given direct access to the president, were given access to go and they were in a shark tank, their preferred policy preferences. a couple of those donors were
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lev parnas and igor fruman that donated money through a foreign source that they laundered and in this case it was discovered, we have to assume in most instances it's not going to be discovered and also present was a canadian steel mobile is not permitted to give money to affect us elections was able to use his city area to run money. so there are a lot of mechanisms, some of which are legal and some of which are not legal it had been super powered by citizens united and we have to assume that having morethan we know . >> you somuch, ideally back . >> miss jackson-lee. >> i'd like to thank all of the witnesses for for their commentary today. let me say i'm a proud cosponsor of hr one which i hope the senate turns on the light and allows us to pass
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that legislation. because some of this could change, some have argued that the court should revisit the question but we know this doing of the court now unfortunately and i'm aghast requested andthen a pointed question to the commissioner, thank you for your leadership . aftercitizens united , can you state or restate what you think about or very briefly, the amount of money that is now in the political process? >> the amount of money always goes up . but let's start there, but it is i think we're seeing is a shifting of money as i pointed out in my testimony in the most competitive senate races, particularly in years where it looks like the control of the senate is up for grabs, that's where i'll be outside spending goes and the outside spending in six out of 10, seven out of 10 depending on which years you look at that has more about the candidates are setting themselves which is kind of
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astonishing if you think about it. you're out there campaigning and somebody else -- >> for the amount candidate is spending, okay. therefore the voice of the candidates may be silenced or blocked out because of some interest, huge undercover pack at one has never heard of or may have heard of but they're coming after you, whoever that is. >> and because the rules on tax disclosure were designed for a time when the super pacs didn't exist, the disclosure schedule as candidates, some of them have been very clever about making sure that they don't have to report until after the electionitself . >> we use this example. a day or two ago we heard a passionate statement on the floor of the united states senate from a senator who offered his religious beliefs and his heartfelt analysis on his decision to vote for the
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conviction of the president of the united states under article 1 area soon thereafter, he received an onslaught of attacks, one trump junior tweeted after romney announced his decision he was too weak to beat the democrats so he was joining them now, he's officially a member of the resistance and should be expelled from the gop. julia started tweeting excel met and later tweeted romney should be expelled from the senate gop. ingram called romney the ultimate selfish printing centered politician. if you were up for reelection this year thepeople of utah would have their own pay back against them because they were defrauded romney . now, people have argued that the citizens united provides for receipt area certainly a senator has a right to free speech . now the question quickly to
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mister weissman and the professor, to answer the question if this individual was up for reelection in 2020 , having exercise free speech, free speech citizens united, how do you think that would be skewed with this kind of onslaught so that his voice could not truly her? if you would answer that question my time is running but i'd like to share it with you. >> it entirely appropriate for the people of utah make a judgment about what senator romney did, it's not appropriate for giant super pacs to come in and i'll send him which as you're implying was a virtual certainty were he up for reelection in his coming term. >> silencing his voice overwhelming at least . >> i served as counsel, i'm sorry, the other professor . >> so if i may, since i have not had many chances to talk, pay to play hurts honest
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businesspeople because honest business person wants to be judged by the metric of the quality of their goods and services. and, but patiently use the entire system by privileging those who will stay at the trump hotel or pay an embodiment and that is skewing not only the political system but of the economic system as well. >> you have an answer about mitt romney west and mark. >> because i work with a nonpartisan, nonprofit i'm going to get around that. >> the gentleman for getting the answer and all of you for providing your insight to this question and i yelled back.
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>> thank you miss jackson, mister wall well i believe is next. >> chairman for hosting this panel and banking to our panelists . i believe having been in congress now 7+ years that it is dirty money and dirty mass that keeps us in congress from reaching the consensus that our constituents have reached. on most issues, the american people are not really divided. they think we should have background checks, over 80 percent . a believe we should do overwhelmingly coming about the climate area and want to have universal access to healthcare, yet when we convene in washington we find people who cannot work and meet that consensus. and having been here and seen the power of the outside groups i know the single reason you can't find that consensus is the fear that if you were to speak out against your party particularly on my republican colleagues side, you will be primary.
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not going to lose your document democrat, going to lose your job to someone who is more conservative and that is the power of outside money and it's also the power of dirty mass on my politicians to protect themselves and their friends and we are interested in doing all we can to reduce the influenceof that . both republicans and democrats have gone to online platforms that encourage small dollar contributors and i think that's great that smaller dollars can be empowered but i do wonder if anyone could address whether you see ways considering that foreign money is foreign into our elections that because of the reporting requirements for smaller dollar contributions are not as transparent, whether that can be manipulated to allow foreign contributions to come in and commissioner, i'll let you take a crack atfirst . >> course, the committee have an allegation to ensure they are not taking foreign money
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i would argue that that obligation goes up with the larger donations if you're getting $1 million donation, you'd better make darn sure if you're a superpower at that money is coming from a place and in fact we saw an example of this just recently with a super pack that was supporting jeb bush in the 2016 election and took a $1.3 billion corporation from a domestic subsidiary of a chinese company and it was the chinese board members who had requested it at the request of neil bush was also on the board we are seeing foreign money come in through corporate entities. i do worry about what's behind small donors. we don't see the names on the small donors. >> talking about super pacs on their own issue, i'm talking about the candidates campaign committees as i'm worried that because of the lack of transparency
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requirements for small donor contributions i believe it's $200 and fewer, that that could be a way, if you have a campaign that is not checking, confirming or even if they are in on it , that is kind of a backdoor around the rules and foreign contributions to make their way in, is that concern that you share ? >> it is because we don't see those names so we don't know where the money is comingfrom . >> i also wanted to raise a concern about foreigners working with us campaigns as you saw in 2016 and in 2016, congress had not imagined prior to that election campaigns would take assistance from foreign governments and not at least report the outreach. i have since introduced legislation that was included in and passed in the house of
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representatives that puts a duty to report on an individual if they receive campaign assistance or even an offer of dirt on your opponent from who you should know to be an agent of a foreign power. is there anything else we could do but duty on people where we otherwise people in the past rely on the honor code and just do the right thing, whatcan we do now to ensure that the fbi would be notified ? if anyone wants to take a crack at that . >> is my earlier testimony one thing that i think would help would be putting in responsibility on a us citizen to sign under penalty of perjury that they have checked and verified that there is no foreign money coming into the campaign accounts . >> thank you and i yield back . >> mister small well we're not going to have a second round but if we have a second round it's five minutes area
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any member wants to ask a question, we will entertain one question per member. to tie up loose ends, anybody want to ask a question ? mister raskin, you are recognized for a question. >> give me a second to composemy interrogatory thought, mister chairman . given that we live in an age of propaganda and fake news and disinformation, i'm wondering for any of the majority witnesses and forgive me, to what extent citizens united figures into the spending of money to confuse the public and to add to the propaganda?>> is
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there something about the way that money has been spent under citizens united that contributes to the thick fog of propagandathat overhangs are politics today ? miss weintraub. >> i think anything that undermines disclosures makes it harder for us to find out who is behind what we are seeing online. people get ulcerative information online and i don't think anybody was to get their news from a russian full farm but people didn't realize that's where they were getting the information from last time so to the extent that citizens united as i said has undermined disclosure, i think it's contributed tothat problem . >> doctor fiona hill describe to us russia as the world's largest uber back today, that it basically operates a super pack in terms of funneling money and propaganda into our politics and other societies. >> call that question and
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then we are going to let mister weissman respond if you want to. >> i'm ready. i think two points come to mind. one as commissioner weintraub said, there's an intersection between the general cultural impact of citizens united and the rise of onlineadvertising . this bill particularly as relates to lack of disclosure so the system we have disclosure focuses on tv ads and now we've moved to where tv ads are being computed with with online advertising. huge amounts of money coming in and the disclosure system is inadequate and people are being confused by that. another component of this.i wouldn't want to call it propaganda necessarily because there's a role for negative advertising in traditional speech for sure but what citizens united has done and professor smith's
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data i think is misleading but all correct, but it has done is what leads to a rise in outside spending. outside spenders are different in candidate spenders and in a variety of ways but most definitely perhaps is they focus overwhelmingly on negative attack ads, about 85 percent of outside spending is devoted to negative attack ads in a much smaller percentage. >> those ads again, there's an appropriate role for drawing distinction. most americans feel like we've tipped the balance in terms of that kind of advertising and its highly emotional appeal, not really communicative around policy or substance and i think again, not that that kind of speech should be censored we are looking at the overall effect and it's been an unhelpful and unhealthy effect for our democracy and it's contributed to the skepticism about how our politics work in the future and reliabilityof our democracy .
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>> i would just add that one of the things that you could have done in 2010 in the disclose act was to clarify what counts as foreign or corporate purposes. that clarity is still needed in the law. and i would also add that lev parnas made a calculated risk that his corporate spending wouldn't send off any warning signs when he spent through a super pack and the indictment alleges against him that he has funneled at least $1 million of foreign money into both state and federal elections which i will reiterate is illegal, whether that money is going into a state election or a federal election. >> thank you. miss scanlon for your closure.
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your good? no closed. thank you verymuch for all of our witnesses . this concludes today's hearing. we have statements for the record from citizens united action fund and a letter from receipt for people which we would like to submit for the record without objection, so done . this concludes today's hearing and i want to thank everybody, every member will have legislative days to submit additional written questions and with that we are done.
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>> students from across the country told us the most important issues for the presidential candidates to address. climate change, gun violence, teen sleeping, college affordability, mental health and immigration. we're awarding $100,000 in total cash prizes. the winners for this student cam competition willbe announced march 11 .
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>> the new hampshire primary is tuesday. what resulted in candidate speeches starting at 7:30 p.m. eastern live on c-span, or listen on the free c-span radio app.>> next, 20/20 presidential candidate senator michael bennet paid a visit to the granite state barbershop in manchester new hampshire to get a haircut while on the campaign trail . >> house a haircut going? so far so good? thank you. >>. >> they told me that you said that. a good trip.


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