You are hereCitizens United
-By Eliza Newlin Carney
May 18, 2012- A stream of amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on a closely watched political spending case turned to a flood by the end the week, as Members of Congress, attorneys general and advocacy groups weighed in.
The big surprise was a bipartisan brief from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) urging justices to let stand a Montana law that bans corporate political expenditures. The court is weighing whether to take up a constitutional challenge to the law, and today marked the deadline for friend of the court briefs in that decision.
“Evidence from the 2010 and 2012 electoral cycles has demonstrated that so-called independent expenditures create a strong potential for corruption and the perception thereof,” the two Senators wrote in their brief. “The news confirms daily that existing campaign finance rules purporting to provide for ‘independence’ and ‘disclosure’ in fact provide neither.”
The old, white, rich men who are buying this election.
-By Frank Rich
April 22, 2012- If you want to appreciate what Barack Obama is up against in 2012, forget about the front man who is his nominal opponent and look instead at the Republican billionaires buying the ammunition for the battles ahead. A representative example is Harold Simmons, an 80-year-old Texan who dumped some $15 million into the campaign before primary season had ended. Reminiscing about 2008, when he bankrolled an ad blitz to tar the Democrats with the former radical Bill Ayers, Simmons told The Wall Street Journal, “If we had run more ads, we could have killed Obama.” It is not a mistake he intends to make a second time. The $15 million Simmons had spent by late February dwarfs the $2.8 million he allotted to the Ayers takedown and the $3 million he contributed to the Swift Boat Veterans demolition of John Kerry four years before that. Imagine the cash that will flow now that the GOP sideshows are over and the president is firmly in Simmons’s crosshairs.
-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.