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Democracy chokes on big money 

LowDown

The beauty of our country's current system of government is that anyone is perfectly free to buy a member of Congress. And isn't that what democracy is all about?

Take the Koch brothers. Of course, these multibillionaire industrialists prefer to buy everything in bulk, and they've spent millions of dollars to purchase controlling shares in a whole flock of Republican Congress critters.

In fact, they have spent so much on so many elections (from Congress all the way down to small-town school board races) that they've made themselves the poster boys of Big Money corruption. By huge margins, the public is demanding that Congress terminate the plutocratic infestation of our democratic system by Kochites.

How have the brothers responded? By buying another senator — this time a former-senator-turned-lobbyist.

Don Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican, became a powerhouse Washington lobbyist shortly after he left the Senate in 2005. His lobby shop pulls in some $8 million a year to run favor-seeking chores for the likes of AT&T, ExxonMobil, FedEx, General Motors and Walmart. Now, Nickles is pulling the Kochs' plow, using his Capitol Hill contacts to try to defeat reforms that would shut off the funnels of secret, unlimited amounts of corporate cash that the Koch network puts into our elections.

What we have here is a perfect example of Big Money looping full circle to strangle The People's right to be self-governing.

The Koch boys write huge checks to candidates and front groups to elect lawmakers who serve their interests. Some of those lawmakers, like Nickles, later slide into lucrative lobbying slots, getting paid a bundle by Koch & Company to fend off democratic, anti-corruption reforms. Thus, the Kochs can keep making bulk purchases of lawmakers — and the circle is drawn ever-tighter around democracy's neck.

To help pass a constitutional amendment to ban this corrupt money, go to united4thepeople.org.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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