You are hereCitizens United
-By Tom Schoenberg and Jonathan D. Salant
March 31, 2012- The U.S. Federal Election Commission overstepped its authority by allowing groups that give money for election advertising to withhold the names of their donors from the public, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jacksonin Washington yesterday threw out FEC regulations adopted in 2007 that let organizations and nonprofit groups keep secret the names of donors who pay for pre-election ads. She said the regulations clashed with requirements of the 2002 campaign finance law known as McCain-Feingold that groups report their ad spending to the commission.
“When the agency determined in this instance that the statute should be revised in light of legal developments, it undertook a legislative, policy making function that was beyond the scope of its authority,” Jackson said in her 31-page ruling.
-By Eric W. Dolan
March 27, 2012- The New York Assembly’s Election Law Committee on Tuesday approved a resolution to call upon the United States Congress send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The resolution was introduced by Assemblyman James Brennan (D). It mirrors a similar resolution passed by the New York City, Albany, Danby and Ithaca.
“More and more Americans are becoming alarmed by the threat to our democracy as super PACs swamp our upcoming national elections,” Brennan said. “Overturning Citizens United must become a national movement.”
The controversial Citizens United ruling struck down key provisions of the federal McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and gave rise to super PACS, officially known as independent-expenditure only committees.
-By Dan Froomkin
March 24, 2012- WASHINGTON -- The two most controversial campaign financing practices of the post-Citizens United era aren’t actually the Supreme Court’s fault.
The court's conservative majority most certainly expected that its 2010 ruling, which granted First Amendment rights to corporations and equated money to speech, would unleash unprecedented amounts of political spending.
But when people rail against Citizens United these days, they’re often complaining about two things in particular: the candidate-specific super PACs that implausibly claim to be independent of the candidates they’re backing, and the political slush funds that can accept unlimited secret donations by claiming to be issue-oriented nonprofits.
Neither were inevitable byproducts of Citizens United -- or a subsequent lower court ruling.
-By Dan Froomkin
March 21, 2012- WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats are setting up a showdown with Republicans on the issue of unlimited secret campaign donations, proposing new rules that would expose those donations to public view.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Wednesday introduced a stripped-down version of the 2010 Disclose Act, without any of the more controversial elements that Republicans cited in torpedoing the bill last time.
The new bill, which has 34 co-sponsors (all Democrats), would simply require all groups spending more than $10,000 on election-related advertising to publicly name all donors who gave $10,000 or more. To address the lack of real-time disclosure of who is paying what, the bill would require any broadcast ad to list the sponsoring group's top five funders.
-By Robin Bravender
March 15, 2012- The AFL-CIO, the largest organized labor group in the United States, wants an immediate crackdown on super PACs.
The union federation on Wednesday afternoon adopted a policy statement saying it supports the overturning of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
“The Citizens United ruling has opened the floodgates to massive spending by corporations and even more so by wealthy donors,” says the resolution adopted at AFL’s winter meeting in Orlando, Fla. “They are pouring money into our electoral system and threaten to drown out the voices of hard-working Americans. Common-sense restrictions on their spending are needed, along with robust disclosure of their contributions and expenditures—including their contributions to organizations engaged in electoral activity.”
-By Matt Sledge
March 13, 2012- Don't cry for the sugar daddies. Rick Santorum may be down and Rick Perry may be out, but the billionaires and millionaires who bet big on them have plenty of other politicians to bankroll -- especially those running for powerful seats at the state level, like governorships in swing states.
The donors pumping money through federal super PACs in the post-Citizens United universe have in many cases also given extensively at the state level, according to a report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Showering local politicians with money has been easy to do for decades, especially in states immune to the tighter post-Watergate campaign finance laws that tried to rein in spending on presidential and Congressional races.
-By Dan Froomkin
March 12, 2012- WASHINGTON -- CEOs may think twice before making what they intend to be secret campaign donations from their corporate treasuries, now that a progressive reform group is offering a $25,000 reward to the first employee who rats one of them out.
"We think there are a lot of big corporations on the bubble about whether they're going to use corporate funds to try to affect the outcome of the election," said Bob Creamer, a consultant with Americans United for Change, the group offering the bounty.
"And we want to make it clear that they cannot take that kind of action without the risk of economic consequences."
A key factor for CEOs, Creamer said, will be whether or not they are confident that their corporate contribution will remain secret.
Justice Ginsburg knows the Citizens United decision was a mistake. Now she appears to be ready to speak truth to power.
-By Richard L. Hasen
February 20, 2012- In 18 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has written more than 200 opinions on a number of important topics, including major opinions on everything from copyright law to abortion rights to employment discrimination. But in the area of campaign finance, she’s authored only one inconsequential two-paragraph concurring opinion—in one of the Supreme Court’s recent cases striking down parts of the McCain-Feingold law—in which she distanced herself from a more far-reaching dissent of Justice Stevens. She’s been a reliable vote to uphold reasonable campaign-finance laws, but this has hardly been her signature issue.
Last week, however, Justice Ginsburg issued a short statement that hinted she is ready to speak out more boldly. She, like many Americans, appears concerned with the rise of super PACs and the disturbing role money is playing in the 2012 campaign season since the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Justice Ginsburg likely won’t have the votes to overturn Citizens United, but she soon will be in a position to expose the disingenuousness at the ruling’s core.