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The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission
(FEC) decision earlier this year gave corporations the same First
Amendment rights as citizens with regard to advocating for or against
political candidates, unleashing
a flood of new corporate cash into state races and a range of new
state policy initiatives that aim to protect the integrity of their
elections. In response, states are pursuing other reforms, such as
requiring shareholder approval for corporations spending election cash,
tighter public disclosure and attribution in ads, public financing of
elections, and calling for a federal constitutional amendment to reverse
the Citizens United decision.
This past week, the Dallas
Morning News revealed that a key figure who contributed to the
privatization of Texas' food stamp eligibility program is now
receiving taxpayer dollars to help fix the problems that the private
system created. regg Phillips, who was Deputy Commissioner at the Texas Health and Human
Services Commission (HHSC) and led the push for privatization a few
years ago, now heads AutoGov Inc., a company that has received $207,500
from the state government in the past four months to assist in
eliminating the errors in the provision and eligibility determination of
the state's food stamp program.
While the shenanigans of former U.S. Representative-turned-pharmaceutical lobbyist Billy Tauzin
and other legislators-turned-lobbyists make national headlines, the
abuse of power in the states often receive scant attention. A recent
decision by the U.S. District Court for Southern Ohio reminds
us that the revolving door among legislators-turned-lobbyists is as
much a problem in the states as we hear about at the federal level.