Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Big Money author Ken Vogel

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Aug 5, 2014 3:51 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, August 6, 2014:

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The American political landscape has been revolutionized in the past five years.  The Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2010 and other court rulings have resulted in staggering amounts of money being spent on political campaigns and causes.

Just as an example -- so-called super PACS, wealthy individuals, corporations, unions and others combined to spend $2.5 billion during the 2012 election campaign.  The Democratic and Republican parties poured $1.6 billion into campaigns.  Outspending the two major parties during an election cycle was unheard up until then.

Voters have seen what all that money has paid for -- one television commercial after another advocating for one candidate over another or more than likely -- attacking a candidate.

Politico investigative reporter Kenneth Vogel outlines the new political realities in his book Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp -- on the Trail of the Ultra Rich Hijacking American Politics. Vogel appears on Wednesday's Smart Talk to tell stories of the billionaires and political consultants who are funding political campaigns today.

Vogel's book reads like a spy novel as he describes trying to sneak into meetings where big donors are being solicited. 

One person mentioned in the book is California businessman Tom Steyer who is behind a group paying for an attack ad airing across Pennsylvania against current Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-08-06 08:20

    Patricia emails:

    Good morning.

    Who really is paying for the big money going into politics? Where do the billionaires and millionaires get their profits? We the consumers are financing elections without knowing who is giving how much while our wages remain stagnant.

    Thank you for your work!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-08-06 08:33

    Todd emails:

    Hello Scott,

    While you may cover this in more detail later in the show, would your guest go into more detail concerning 'who is calling the shots for the Tea Party'?

  • Lisa img 2014-08-06 08:50

    Of course the Koch brothers are donating to PBS. How else can they gain control? If you can't beat them, join them, and take over from the inside.

  • Brandon Carbaugh img 2014-08-06 22:47

    How can we EVER hope to get the money out of politics, when the people who do the politicking--the politicians themselves--are the same who stand to directly benefit from things staying as they are?

    It's like we're asking a broken machine to fix itself.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-08-07 08:11

    John from Carsonville emails:

    I keep hearing the left complain about the Koch Brothers money in politics but they “ NEVER” talk about George Soros !

    • Scott LaMar img 2014-08-07 10:26

      Ken Vogel writes extensively about George Soros and other big money contributors who support both conservative and liberal causes in the book. We couldn't list them all and Soros is one of the progressives we just didn't mention during the Smart Talk episode. The Kochs get more attention in the book because of their long history and the amounts of money they have raised and contributed over the years. The book points out that big money is part of the political landscape no matter what political persuasion.