Federal Politics

Published — January 22, 2016 Updated — Today at 2:46 pm EST

Commentary: The consequences of our secret elections

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It’s been six years since the ‘Citizens United’ decision; the results are troubling

Introduction

It was six years ago this week that the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically altered the American political landscape with its landmark ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, essentially deciding that corporations and labor unions can spend millions of dollars getting candidates elected to federal office.

As long as the funds didn’t go directly to the candidate, or were not spent in coordination with the candidate, there would be no law broken. Corporate and union donations to the campaigns were still illegal.

As a result of the ruling, super PACs were born, giant pools of money that act as shadow campaign committees, often run by people with close ties to the campaigns themselves. The organizers of these PACs must report all their donors and expenditures. They’re also — in theory, anyway — prohibited from “coordinating” with the candidate.

But in politics, it seems, there’s always a way to dodge the rules and obfuscate what’s really happening. This election, secrecy has been pushed to another level. Since the Citizens United decision came down, nonprofit groups have formed to back candidates. And unlike the super PACs, the nonprofits are not required to report who their donors are. That’s because these groups are theoretically focused on “social welfare,” not politics. It’s a highly cynical and dubious claim in many cases, but it’s working. The Internal Revenue Service is supposed to police whether these groups are actually concentrating on “social welfare,” but that’s not happening — not now, maybe not ever — because the IRS is paralyzed by budget cuts, missteps in its previous efforts to oversee these groups and related political controversies.

One candidate in particular who’s gotten a secret boost is U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has benefitted from millions spent by a nonprofit, the Conservative Solutions Project, on ads pushing him for the White House. The group is spending as fast as it can to get Rubio in office. But no one knows who is supplying the cash.

This was exactly the sort of scenario that was predicted six years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court voted to allow corporations to spend money to get candidates elected. That included certain nonprofit corporations.

No, corporations still aren’t permitted to give a donation to a candidate. But they can spend heavily to benefit a candidate, and indeed they do. They can still call the tune as to who’s a viable candidate and who isn’t. And they can do it all without you knowing who’s providing that cash, and whose agenda is propelling that candidate.

Is that really what the Founding Fathers had in mind?

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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.