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Josh Silver
Josh Silver is the CEO of Represent.Us, a national nonpartisan organization challenging the undue influence of big money special interests in American politics. Prior to that, he was the President & CEO of Free Press, the nation's leading media and technology public interest organization. Josh was the campaign manager of the successful ballot initiative for Clean Elections in Arizona and director of development for the cultural arm of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He has published extensively on media policy, campaign finance and other public policy issues.

Entries by Josh Silver

Taxation Without Representation

(126) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 8:53 AM

Today, millions of Americans will begrudgingly pay their taxes to a government that does not inspire confidence. With public trust in government at near historic lows, many Americans believe that their elected representatives don't care what the average citizen thinks.

Unfortunately, they're right.

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5 Awful Things Congress Snuck Into the Omnibus Budget Deal

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2014 | 12:29 PM

On Thursday night, the US House passed the omnibus spending bill - backed aggressively by President Obama and GOP leadership - to avert another government shutdown and put off our next completely avoidable, 100% self-imposed budget crisis until next September. The yes votes prevailed 219 to...

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One Community Beat Big Money on Election Day. Here's How They Did It.

(11) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 4:27 PM

On Election night, 2014, as campaign spending records were shattered and Jon Stewart declared "Money" the big winner, the people of Tallahassee, Florida lit a beacon of hope for the rest of the nation. Voters in Florida's capital city overwhelmingly approved an extraordinary ethics and campaign finance reform ballot initiative...

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Money in Politics Is Taxation Without Representation

(163) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 3:38 PM

April 15 is Tax Day, and most of us dutifully pay our taxes to a government that no longer represents us. Policy decisions on nearly every issue, regardless of public opinion, are decided in favor of a select few who can afford to write massive checks, host campaign fundraisers, and...

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All Is Not Lost: How to Win Money-in-Politics Reform

(146) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 9:29 AM

If you have a heartbeat, you are one of the vast majority of Americans thoroughly disgusted by this week's McCutcheon Supreme Court decision. It allows one donor to write a $3.6 million check to buy political influence, providing us all with yet another "just-when-you-thought-it-couldn't-get-any-worse" moment. As if we needed it.

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We Just Dumped a Bag of Money on a Congressman -- Here's Why

(57) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 10:39 AM

Congressman Jim Himes has drawn the ire of a budding American anti-corruption movement. Not because he broke any laws, but for something astonishingly legal: he let lobbyists for his top donor, CitiGroup, write their own Wall Street-friendly bill, and led it to passage in the U.S. House over the last...

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Supreme Court Contemplates More Political Bribery Amidst Shutdown

(369) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 5:07 PM

This Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that challenges the $123,200 "aggregate limit" on how much one donor may give to a combination of political candidates, parties and PACs. Welcome to the age of government shutdowns, $7 billion elections, and a blatantly...

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Syria: Pro-War Senators Took 83% More Money From Military Industry

(282) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 3:19 PM

Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to 7 to approve the use of military force in Syria. A Maplight analysis reveals that senators voting 'yes' received, on average, 83 percent more campaign money from defense contractors than senators voting 'no.'

These numbers are unnerving...

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How One State Senate Just Screwed the Whole Nation

(393) Comments | Posted June 24, 2013 | 4:55 PM

Observing New York state politics is like watching felons run a parole board. Last week, senate leadership killed a bill that would have cleaned up state government and created citizen-funded elections. It was a huge opportunity to stem corruption that has wracked the state. Thirty-two state officials have been in...

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Secrets Revealed: Corruption, Money and Power In Washington

(272) Comments | Posted May 18, 2013 | 9:21 AM

Money in politics corruption is universally reviled by the American public. It blocks progress on most issues, squanders billions of dollars from philanthropists and stymies the most skillful public interest advocates. It even drives issues like the sizzling IRS scandal, though you wouldn't know it by watching the news.

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NRA/Senate Fail -- How to Turn Tragedy Into Opportunity

(594) Comments | Posted April 20, 2013 | 12:57 PM

Even the most cynical amongst us were stunned when the U.S. Senate voted down a watered down, bipartisan, partial background check for gun purchases that's supported by some 90 percent of Americans and 74 percent of NRA members. The image of the president flanked by a grieving mother and a...

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Discovered: A Cure for Political Corruption

(566) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 6:35 PM

Elections have become auctions, and nearly every issue is paralyzed by the overwhelming influence of money. But you knew that. The real challenge is how to fix what has become one of our nation's most pressing political challenges.

If you're hoping our leaders will prioritize this issue, you'll be...

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Great Myth of 2012: $6 Billion Election 'Didn't Change Much'

(122) Comments | Posted December 7, 2012 | 1:23 PM

The election spending numbers are in and they broke all the records: President Obama and Mitt Romney each raked in over $1 billion, independent groups spent $1 billion more and super PAC king Sheldon Adelson told the Wall Street Journal that next election he'll double the...

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Convenciones: Toda la democracia que el dinero puede comprar

(6) Comments | Posted September 3, 2012 | 2:11 AM

Miren debajo de la pompa y circunstancia de las convenciones en Estados Unidos y descubrirán de inmediato cómo se pone a subasta nuestra democracia. Un maratón de lujosos actos a los que solo se puede asistir por invitación, y patrocinados por el 1% más rico. Políticos y superlobbistas...

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Conventions: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

(106) Comments | Posted August 30, 2012 | 8:00 AM

Look behind the pomp and circumstance of the conventions and you'll quickly discover the naked auctioning of our democracy. A marathon of invitation-only, lavish events sponsored by the one percent. Politicians and super-lobbyists grinning and gripping each other along with bottomless booze, jumbo shrimp, and billions of dollars in...

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Citizens United Mastermind Ousted From RNC

(401) Comments | Posted June 11, 2012 | 3:16 PM

On Friday, Indiana attorney Jim Bopp quietly lost reelection to the Republic National Committee. Bopp is the architect of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court case that gave us super PAC's and the torrent of political spending that has turned elections into auctions.

Bopp has been on the...

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Citizens United Revisited? Buckle Up, Chief Justice Roberts

(839) Comments | Posted February 17, 2012 | 9:29 AM

On Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Montana Supreme Court's December, 2011 decision upholding the state's century-old ban on corporate political spending. The implications of this are huge, as it paves the way for a potential re-opening of the disastrous Citizens United decision that has spawned billionaire-sponsored super...

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How Corporate Lobbyists Stole the Conservative Brand

(116) Comments | Posted February 16, 2012 | 3:02 PM

This week, climate blogs including DeSmogBlog and ThinkProgress Green uncovered a leaked document precious to public interest advocates: a confidential memo and fundraising plan from the "conservative" Heartland Institute that lists its corporate donors, as well as the group's strategic plans.


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Stupid Debate Questions

(184) Comments | Posted January 20, 2012 | 1:03 PM

Freud considered denial to be one of the most powerful psychological disorders.

The GOP primary debates feature politicians and the debate moderators in a deep state of denial about the most burning issue facing the country -- one that a vast majority of Americans care intensely about: the fact that our elections have become auctions.

How intensely? A recent Rasmussen poll shows that a record 48% of Americans agree that Congress is "corrupt." A CNN poll shows that 86% believe that Congress' priorities are set by donors. Congressional approval ratings are at 9%. And, in polling released yesterday, voters, by a two to one margin say that reducing the influence of money in politics would be an important factor in their votes. This issue cuts easily across party lines, by the way.

Super PACs are outspending the candidates 2 to 1, and manipulating voter views dramatically and often anonymously. Yet of the 17 Republican primary debates, the topic of money in politics has come up a mere couple of times -- and only in relation to the nasty tone of some political ads.

If we had a truly representative democracy and an accountable media, this would not be the case. A topic this big, that burns this hot -- from the Tea Party to Occupy to everyone in between -- must be at the center of the conversation. Money's control over politics is at the root of the rip-off Wall Street bailouts, the never-ending jobs crisis, the yawning wealth gap, our ancient energy policy, inflated health-care costs, and the list goes on and on.

This year's political campaigns are expected to spend a total of $6 billion dollars, and it's going to be a mess that often times will have little or no connection to the huge, structural problems our country faces. People are going to continue to be cynical and nauseated by the attack ads and the robo calls and the utterly disingenuous poll-tested messages that are going to be sprayed around.

This weekend marks the second anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that flung open the floodgates of corporate and billionaire political spending. And on Monday the first televised Florida primary debate will be held.

So what better time than now to spark a great conversation about the routine buying and selling of our government?

We just produced a funny video that illustrates the problem with the debates so far. Take a look.

Alcoholics and addicts are masters of denial. There is no better metaphor for our money-flooded politicians than that - utterly dependent on a substance (big money) that is ultimately destroying them and everything around them. But incapable of admitting there's a problem. It's time to yank our elected officials out of their collective state of denial.

Starting today, and throughout this year's elections, we'll be helping end the denial and force the real debate that we all - left, right and center - are hoping to have. Let's do it together....

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Wall Street Protests: A Democracy Reform Agenda Is Born

(746) Comments | Posted October 6, 2011 | 1:35 PM

We've been at the protests in the last few days in both Washington and New York, and while reliable crowd size estimates are scarce, they are clearly growing from the thousands to the tens of thousands, and quickly replicating across the country.

Amidst this remarkable uprising we...

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