Martin speakingThank you for the opportunity to speak. Come to think of it: I have never before spoken publicly in a brew pub — at least not coherently, in full sentences, and sober…
My name is Martin Voelker, I live in Golden and I’m on the board of 350 Colorado, the state affiliate of 350-dot-org which is building a global climate movement. 
Why am I speaking about money in politics? 
Because it’s at the root of the problem, not just of polluted waters but of our polluted atmosphere.
In fact, the 350 movement became necessary because the fossil fuel industries spent massive amounts of cash to sow doubt in the public’s mind. They also effectively bribed politicians to obstruct rational policies aimed at preventing climate change.
Why do I use the term ‘bribery’ ? I can’t help it – I’m originally from Germany which has sensible election laws: If German politicians accepted millions of dollars in campaign money from industry groups they would all go to jail. Just like in most other civilized democracies which recognize the corrupting influence of money in politics. 
And as Environment Colorado’s new report “Polluting Politics” convincingly illustrates, industries keep dumping poison into our water because it is cheaper for them to pay politicians to torpedo environmental regulations than to clean up their act. I found especially enlightning that the report identifies as water villains not just many but most of the same corporations that endanger a stable global climate, such as Cargill, Koch, and ExxonMobil.
But polluter money also targets the public directly. Here in Colorado, the oil and gas industry spent an unprecedented almost $12 million on front groups created to influence our state elections in 2014, through public opinion research, signature gathering campaigns and through massive advertising buys. Perhaps the term “manipulate” is more appropriate.
Corporate law dictates a fiduciary duty to spend corporate cash only in the company’s best financial interest. 
So how did the oil and gas industry justify their 2014 election spending spree to their shareholders? That was simple: History shows that influencing elections with money works – and more importantly that they could expect a big or sometimes huge return on their investment.
What these industries do is technically legal, but at the same time it destroys not only our shared natural resources but also our trust in the democratic process which it cruelly undermines.
Allow me to state the obvious: Corporations will do whatever they can get away with. Let me say that again: Corporations will do whatever they can get away with.
Which is why we need organizations like and Environment Colorado – today more than ever.