When John Roberts and the Supreme Court imposed the Citizens United decision on America two years ago, they told us not to worry.
Sure, it might turn elections into auctions. And sure, it would allow every shady corporation to flood the system with unlimited money. But that would be okay, they said, because disclosure would cure everything. The voters would always know where the money was coming from.
How's that working out?
If you want an example, look no further than the shenanigans going on in Connecticut House District 5 ahead of next Tuesday's Democratic primary.
A mysterious out-of-state Super PAC called New Directions for America is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to tilt the election to a complete unknown, Dan Roberti.
Who is New Directions for America? Who are the corporate interests behind it? Why are they spending this money on this strange quest?
None of your damn business.
The Super PAC says it won't release its financial disclosures until August 20 -- a week after the election. It has used a legal loophole to do this.
I asked Bob Biersack at the Center for Responsive Politics if they were allowed to do this. He told me that they were.
Meanwhile Dan Roberti himself has suddenly and miraculously found hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in his own bank account, which he is also spending on the race. Where did he get the money? We will not find out the full details under midnight, Monday: Just a few hours before voting begins. He, like his out of state pals, has used a loophole in the law to reduce disclosure to a farce.
Who is trying to elect Dan Roberti to Congress in Connecticut's Fifth District?
You can see why local voters might be worried.
Roberti is a 30-year-old rich kid. He has never worked a day of his life in Connecticut. He hasn't worked many anywhere. He's worked for a few years as a public relations guy in New York. He also says he's helped out in the occasional soup kitchen.
Right now there's really only one thing voters really know about Dan Roberti: He is the son of powerful K Street lobbyist Vinnie Roberti.
What can we say about Vinnie? He's a former real estate developer. Twenty years ago he was put on trial for arson, after one of his troubled properties mysteriously burned down. According to the trial reports in the Hartford Courant at the time, Roberti's defense attorney used the words "reasonable doubt" 19 times in his summary to the jury, and told them: "You cannot convict someone because you think they might be guilty."
This is the guy who's unemployed son is suddenly being flooded with millions of dollars in secretive campaign money. You gotta love our democracy.
During the campaign Dan Roberti said over and over again that he shouldn't be confused with his dad. But he then admitted he owned half his father's lobbying company -- and that's where his own sudden influx of personal cash has come from. His father may have bought him out for as much as $1 million.
You would think, at the very least, voters would be entitled to the full details on all this well before they cast their votes.
Recent polls have suggested the tactic may be working. Roberti may actually be ahead.
This kind of thing is the future, thanks to Citizens United.
Brett Arends, columnist for Smart Money and a former columnist for the "Wall Street Journal" and the "Boston Herald." is the author a new biography of Mitt Romney, "The Romney Files."
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