Federal Politics

Published — January 20, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Anniversary of ‘Citizens United’ decision draws protesters

"Occupy the Courts" protesters sit in front of a barricade on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Ann Heisenfelt/AP

Opponents of the decision hope to amend the Constitution

Introduction

Two years after a controversial Supreme Court ruling lifted many restrictions on political spending, America’s campaign finance laws have officially become a joke.

Stephen Colbert, a comedian who says he wants to be the “president of the United States of South Carolina,” has used the “Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC” to highlight the weak separation between candidates and the outside spending groups that support them.

But the new power corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals have to sway elections in the wake of the Citizens United decision is not a laughing matter to many Americans. People are organizing protests Friday and over the weekend to draw attention to the lack of disclosure and accountability in the U.S. campaign finance system.

Citizens United and a lower-court ruling in 2010 allowed corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals to give money to “super PACs,” political organizations that can receive unlimited corporate, union, and individual contributions. The groups can use these funds to make unlimited expenditures on advertisements in support of or opposition to candidates.

Move to Amend, one of the groups protesting Citizens United Friday, is pushing to change the Constitution. The organization’s amendment would limit rights protected by the Constitution to “natural persons only” – not corporations – and force the courts to “not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech.”

Common Cause, another advocacy group seeking to overturn Citizens United, has also launched a pro-amendment project, Amend2012. The effort is being led by Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich. “Our goal is to have as many states as possible pass ballot resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment,” the group’s website explains.

Decisions by the high court invalidate conflicting state laws. But the Montana Supreme Court in December stuck to its guns.

The state supreme court upheld a law barring campaign corporate spending on the grounds that the Citizens United ruling only applies to national elections. Attorney James Bopp Jr., an opponent of campaign finance restrictions who successfully argued Citizens United, is expected to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the arguments made in the 5-4 decision was that shareholders would monitor corporations’ political contributions. But those donations are not so easy to find thanks to weak disclosure rules.

Now the Corporate Reform Coalition, a group mainly composed of institutional investors, is petitioning the Securities and Exchange Commission to increase corporations’ disclosure of political spending.

Supporters of increased corporate disclosure point to studies that show companies with higher levels of political activity – lobbying and political action committee expenditures – tend to be less valuable and correlate with weaker shareholder governance and more corporate jet use by CEOs.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.