- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2010

Contrary to President Obama’s promises, voters say special interests have more influence on the political process now than they did a year ago, according to a new poll.

The poll, paid for by groups looking to curb the Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance ruling, found that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats say special interests have increased their influence since the president took office, and they say Mr. Obama has not done enough to fight back.

“People think special interests are dominant,” said Stan Greenberg, a leading Democratic pollster who worked with Republican pollster Mark McKinnon.

Mr. Obama promised to usher in a new era of government responsible to voters, but back-room negotiations over the health-care bill, and the president’s own broken promise to televise those negotiations on C-SPAN, have dented his credibility.

According to the survey of 805 likely voters, taken Feb. 2-4, nearly 80 percent said members of Congress are controlled by those who fund their campaigns, while fewer than a fifth said members listen to voters.

The groups that paid for the poll are pushing Congress to pass laws reining in the Supreme Court’s Jan. 21 ruling that free-speech protections apply to corporations and unions. That ruling cleared the way for corporations and unions to run political advertising using general funds.

Under the old rules, corporations and unions had to create a political action committee and obey a series of restrictions.

Corporations and unions still are banned from contributing directly to a candidate.

Among the options Congress is considering to rein in the ruling are to explicitly ban foreign corporations from being able to run ads, and to require shareholders to approve political expenditures beforehand.

Some members of Congress also are backing a bill that would create a voluntary public financing system for congressional campaigns.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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