Citizens United, the decision that lets unlimited corporate funds into elections, is two years old. What does it have to show for itself?
Well — let’s crunch some numbers:
Between the 2008 and 2010 elections, spending by independent groups, including corporations, increased approximately 130% from $119.9 million to $280 million, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.
Almost 80 Super PACs spent more than $60 million calling for election or defeat of federal candidates. Bear in mind Super PACs weren’t even formed until the summer of 2010 and it wasn’t even a presidential election year!
And just since the beginning of the GOP primaries, OpenSecrets.org reports 12 super PACs operated by supporters of a specific presidential candidate have spent more than $22 million on ads and other expenditures!
Because of this, and the negative impact many believe this decision has had ( and will continue to have), Representative Keith Ellison has introduced the Get Corporate Money out of Politics Constitutional Amendment (H. J. RES. 92).
The bill reaffirms the importance of a level playing field and authorizes Congress and the States to regulate election contributions of for-profit corporations. While protecting the freedom of the press, the Get Corporate Money out of Politics Amendment clearly states that corporations are not people. They do not vote, they do not serve in office, and they should not be able to buy our elections.
While I could happily spend all day (or all year) talking about the impact of Citizens United on campaigning and therefore the entire American political system, let’s take a look at how some people are trying to get corporate money, and negative campaigns out of politics.
One of Gingrich’s supporters, Miriam Adelson, wife of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has attached a caveat along her $5 million donation — the money must be used for ads that support Gingrich and not attack ads.
And in another rebellion against negative advertising, in fact outside ads of any kind,Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown have reached an agreement attempting to limit outside ads in their Massachusetts Senate race campaigns.
The fundamental idea is a pledge by each campaign to make charitable donations when outside groups run paid advertisements. Brown said his campaign would to donate 50 percent of the value of any spending on his behalf to a charity of Warren’s choice, and Warren would have to do the same to a charity of his choosing if he was targeted with an outside ad benefiting her.
Warren has also suggested that they sign a joint letter “explicitly notifying known third party groups…of the agreement.” She also hopes to officially notify broadcasters in the hope of getting their help, and “ensuring that the agreement not only cover express advocacy ads, but all paid public advertisements that seek to promote or attack either candidate or campaign.”
So, all is not doom and gloom in the post-Citizens United world. But no doubt more questions will present themselves when the national election starts in full.
- The Road to Citizens United (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- Two Years After Citizens United, Time to Get Corporate Money out of Politics (huffingtonpost.com)
- Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown deserve major props for campaign finance truce (washingtonpost.com)
- Citizens United Challenged in California (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- You Can Thank The Supreme Court For Newt Gingrich’s Extended Campaign (businessinsider.com)
- Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren Rebel Against Super-PACs (usnews.com)