Why is Your Democratic Representative Accepting Millions from the World’s Worst Corporations?
If our elected officials were more like NASCAR drivers, with logos showing us where they get their money, you would see Wal-Mart, Verizon, Tesoro, Lockheed-Martin, Morgan Stanley, and a great many other corporate sponsors on the jacket of Congressman Mike Thompson.
Probably too many logos to fit on a single coat.
My name is Nils Palsson, and I am writing this not only as a candidate for United States Congress (and a true progressive challenger to Thompson’s 18-year reign of establishment politics in that same seat): I am writing this a citizen, and as a constituent in California’s 5th Congressional District.
I’m writing this as a father.
Our communities face a number of urgent crises demanding visionary leadership, strong action, and perhaps most importantly, the courage to stand for the people and say ‘No’ to big-money contributions that may come with strings attached.
Climate change is existential threat demanding immediate action. There is a housing crisis in which many families are losing their homes, unable to pay the skyrocketing rent. There is a crisis in the job market, and income inequality is at its worst in America, with the richest one-tenth of 1% of people owning almost as much as the bottom 40%. This is an outrage. We face systemic racism, and a prison-industrial complex that currently incarcerates over 2 million men and women, disproportionately people of color. This is an outrage.
Meanwhile, fossil-fuel companies are making a killing by polluting our watersheds and jeopardizing our children’s future, big banks and and real estate companies are making a killing by impoverishing communities and evicting families and senior citizens, and the worst companies are dodging billions in taxes by stashing money in offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands and Panama.* These are just a few of the many woes of the current system, in which Big Money dominates politics.
How can we expect our leaders to stand for us — our families, our communities, our planet — when they are taking huge sums of money from big banks, the fossil-fuel industry, insurance and telecom giants, weapons manufacturers, and other huge corporations?
This information is all publicly available through the Federal Election Commission (FEC) — the only problem is how few people actually access this information. If only the press would help make this information public — that in this time of such great challenges, our ‘Democrat’ in Congress has taken millions from the worst offenders.**
If you were to visit the FEC website and do a search on Thompson, you’d likely be astonished: over a million dollars in this election cycle alone (2015-16), with more than half of that coming from PACs, including lobbyists representing too many familiar (and unrecognizable) entities to list.
I'll list a few: Aetna, Aflac, American Bankers Association, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Credit Suisse Securities, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman (weapons), Farm Credit PAC, General Electric, Google, accounting behemoth Grant Thornton, Investment Company Institute PAC, Mednax, Merck, Morgan Stanley, Mortgage Bankers Association PAC, National Association of Convenience Stores, New York Life Insurance Company, Pacific Life Insurance Company, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Quicken Loans, Raytheon, Realtors Political Action Committee, Safeway, State Farm, Target, Tesoro Petroleum Corporation, TIAA-CREF, Verizon, Wal-Mart, and the Zurich Holding Co. of America Committee for Good Government.
That is but a taste.
And as I hold my flashlight of truth on this dirty underbelly of our political establishment, I can’t help but wonder if District 5 voters have any idea that this is going on.
I wonder what we'll do when we find out.
It is no secret that Mike Thompson, Chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus, is a favorite of the wine industry, which exerts great influence in the politics of our region. The latest bill Thompson introduced in the House, HR4934, is a proposed reduction in excise taxes on wine, a legislative effort with a 1% chance of becoming law, according to govtrack.us.
“You’ll never get money out of politics.”
One year ago, as I began to consider running for Congress, I travelled to Washington, D.C., to see if I truly wanted this job. Congressman Thompson was kind enough to meet with me, and I expressed to him the growing concerns of young people in my community.
I handed him a stack of letters from my high school history students, outlining their worries: global warming, education costs, unemployment — deep concerns about the future they are inheriting. I expressed to the Congressman a growing concern about the influence of money in politics, especially since Citizens United open the floodgates of corporate campaign contributions.
“You’ll never get money out of politics,” he told me.
Until that moment, I wasn’t sure if I would run for Congress. But at that moment, I was presented with the challenge of our time:
Will we stand idly by while our so-called ‘democratic’ leaders accept huge money from the worst corporations and do very little to address our true needs? Will we continue to accept these Establishment Politics? Or are we going to demand more from those whom we elect?
I am running for Congress in California’s 5th District as a real progressive — one who will not take a dime from corporations, their lobbyists, or super-PACs. Instead, I stand with the people (all of us), and the planet we share. I stand for social, environmental and economic justice for all.
I am an endorsed Berniecrat and an elected Delegate for Bernie Sanders at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. And when elected to Congress, I intend to advance the progressive agenda toward universal health care, tuition-free college education, a just economy, and a meaningful response to climate change.
To the voters of this district: I face Thompson and two others in a four-way primary on June 7th. The top two vote-getters make it to the November election, regardless of party.
I hope you will nominate me on June 7th to stand for you this November. If you help me get through the primary, I believe I have a real shot in a two-way runoff.
I trust you to make up your own mind and vote your integrity in this election. I just want you to have the facts about where our current Representative gets his money. And I want you to know that you have a Bernie-endorsing Democrat on the ballot, here to represent our families and communities, not the biggest banks and corporations and polluters.
And to Representative Thompson: Although I am an outraged citizen, I want you to know that I would never belittle your character. I see and respect you as a human, and I recognize that you and your staff have done good work to help others. I am only challenging you for this office because, as a father, I believe greater visionary leadership and action are demanded in these epic times. I’m ready to pick up the torch and relieve you of this long-held position.
I hope that my shining a light on this alarming record of corporate political contributions can be seen as a reasonable step toward greater democracy and transparency in our government.
For more information on my campaign to get money out of politics and represent the people — or to find links, research, additional readings, and my stance on other issues, visit www.peoplesvictory.us and www.facebook.com/NilsForCongress/
Somehow, this has all gone on for almost two decades without much coverage from the media. Help shine a light on corruption in politics and restore our democracy by sharing this with your friends.
- Mike Thompson joined House Republicans in passing the 2011 US-Panama Free Trade Agreement: http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/112/house/1/782
This agreement resulted in the legal crimes exposed in the Panama Papers:
- Link to Thompson’s Official FEC Filings (Click on link to ‘Other Committees Contributions’):
- Simplified Spreadsheet of Thompson’s Corporate PAC Contributions, downloaded from the FEC: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8rQDqvmONyjb1g0TnJlYVJZUHc/view
- Here is another spreadsheet, this one listing individual wealthy donors and their industries: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8rQDqvmONyjU0FNdi1TWFBnT0E/view
(Information downloaded directly from the FEC and re-uploaded to Google Drive unedited. These records reflect the 2015-16 cycle only, of of Thompson’s 18 years in Congress.)
- As an interesting footnote, alcohol is a leading killer in this country, with 88,000 deaths annually attributed to excessive drinking. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-fitzgerald/15-shocking-alcohol-stati_b_7010680.html
- Nils is an Endorsed “Berniecrat” and “Bernie Thinker”: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GxmL3bbejjGx-Ji7kzsnZLzkSaMrfX5WwgRAvvqfqpw/pubhtml?widget=true&%3Bheaders=false
- And an Elected Delegate for Bernie: http://www.record-bee.com/general-news/20160504/lake-county-to-send-sanders-delegates-to-democratic-national-convention
- Mike Thompson is a Hillary Superdelegate: http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-endorsement-primary/