Video: Citizens United is 4, world inexplicably has not ended yet

posted at 10:01 pm on January 21, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

Remember how bad the Citizens United decision was going to be for America? It was so bad no one would ever win an election fair and square again. It was so bad any ol’ billionaire could just buy any election he wanted. It was so bad it was worth President Obama calling out SCOTUS justices in an unprecedentedly rude move at the State of the Union.

So much for that:

At his State of the Union address four years ago, President Barack Obama lectured Supreme Court justices about their decision he said would let corporations — even foreign corporations — play an unprecedented new role in electoral politics.

But America’s largest companies haven’t used the Citizens United v. FEC case to open up their checkbook. Instead, most still prefer the time-tested avenues of political influence-peddling: industry trade associations, politically active nonprofits and company PACs that are limited to giving just $5,000 per candidate.

The ruling has helped reshape the campaign finance landscape by paving the way for megadonors and campaign consultants to wrest power away from the K Street fundraising circuit and the political parties, but just not in the way critics first envisioned.

“Citizens United has become the all-purpose boogeyman,” said Bradley Smith, an election law expert, founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and a noted skeptic of campaign finance restrictions. “Whatever you hate about campaigns, blame Citizens United.”

Tuesday is the anniversary of Citizens United, which comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on another major campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC. In that case, justices will consider the constitutionality of the aggregate donation limits to political parties and candidates. A ruling in McCutcheon could come as early as Wednesday.

In 2010, Supreme Court gave companies, nonprofits and unions carte blanche to spend unlimited funds directly on election-related politicking in Citizens United — so long as that activity was not coordinated with a candidate or political party. Combined with another case, SpeechNow v. FEC, the ruling led to the creation of super PACs and hybrid PACs, which have been used to dramatically change the political system.

But it’s been individuals giving the vast majority of cash, not companies.

Just for perspective, the 2012 election cycle— the first president election under the unleashed, dastardly dominion of America’s billionaires and corporations—cost a total of $7 billion. That’s a little more than half of what the federal government spends in one day, so spare me the histrionics.

Remy and Sean Malone offer a primer on Citizens United, four years after the decision. It’s still desperately needed given the misconceptions that remain and the willful misinforming of the public by people and presidents convinced that allowing all this free speech is probably the death knell of the Republic.

Update: I should add between this and Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Virginia is trying very hard to give away that “best managed” title referenced in this video, but you can’t blame Citizens United for that.


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We better get the attention back on Obamacare. That’s what is going to win us elections. What happened to Ted Cruz? Cruz 2016!

anotherJoe on January 21, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Actually, I didn’t mean to slight this topic, though. Because Citizens United was important, and it’s very important that conservatives don’t fall for so called campaign finance reform, as the liberals control the mass media, so, pretty much, paid media (self-financed ads) is the only area where we can level the playing field.

In addition, the liberal agitate for “transparency” where all donors will be known and listed on the internet: BAD IDEA. Anonymity is key. For example, if you give to a traditional marriage campaign, you want anonymity. Don’t let the libs mess up our freedom to finance campaigns anonymously.

anotherJoe on January 21, 2014 at 10:15 PM

“Citizens United has become the all-purpose boogeyman,” said Bradley Smith, an election law expert, founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and a noted skeptic of campaign finance restrictions. “Whatever you hate about campaigns, blame Citizens United.”

.
Thanks for the advice, Brad.

listens2glenn on January 21, 2014 at 10:22 PM

It’s because Big gov loving Progressives still run DC and both parties so there is no impact.

In the grand scheme of things Hillary’s statement at the Benghazi hearings “What difference does it make?” could be the five most truthful words EVER spoken inside the Beltway.

And THAT should scare us all.

PappyD61 on January 21, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Are they allowed to use Mark Ruffalo’s likeness without his consent like that?

daddytype on January 21, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Nightmarish flashback,………..DEMON SHEEP!!!

canopfor on January 21, 2014 at 10:32 PM

And THAT should scare us all.

PappyD61 on January 21, 2014 at 10:26 PM

PappyD61: Tru Dats:)

canopfor on January 21, 2014 at 10:33 PM

The way the fascists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are going to spend $50 million trying to elect statists and push amnesty in 2014, I’m having second thoughts.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become as great a threat to this country as any far-left group.

bw222 on January 21, 2014 at 11:09 PM

Corporate officers have a legal obligation to use stockholders’ money wisely. Spending on political races can be beneficial, but the more that is spent the harder it is to justify. The stockholders are not only owed good care, but every effort to maximize profits.

If unions had to follow the same laws as corporations, most union officers would go straight to jail.

.

So it is not that Citizens United unleashed the predicted (by opponents) floods of corporate money, that didn’t happen. There still has to be a valid reason to spend that money. They are now just free to act in their interests when there is a good reason.

Adjoran on January 22, 2014 at 2:47 AM

In addition, the liberal agitate for “transparency” where all donors will be known and listed on the internet: BAD IDEA. Anonymity is key. For example, if you give to a traditional marriage campaign, you want anonymity. Don’t let the libs mess up our freedom to finance campaigns anonymously.

anotherJoe on January 21, 2014 at 10:15 PM

I sort of forgot my main point. That that the liberals use these lists of donors to smear them, like they did with donors to traditional marriage campaigns. And it’s NOT an even playing field. While in theory there would be an equal opportunity for us to smear donors from the other side, we’re too polite or whatever. The libs have no qualms about going to people’s houses and posting on the net and doing whatever it takes to smear people.

That’s why we need anonymity for political contributors!

anotherJoe on January 22, 2014 at 3:03 AM

Dems railed against CU all the while creating fertile soil for corporate donations. The president called out SCOTUS to send a message to the world that the left is above this. With his left hand he is busy signing EOs which favor the very monies they claim to hate.

Ufdaubet on January 22, 2014 at 8:17 AM

I have been listening to a talk/call in state wide radio program and they have had 2 dems who are running for the Baucus seat in MT. They both are trying very hard to sound reasonable and moderate on all the views. One guy, current Lt. Gov Bollinger, kept calling himself a moderate over and over. They both really had no strong opinions on most of the tough social issues like abortion except for saying women’s health and reproductive rights. Bollinger did say that the SC decision on corporations being people was wrong and would bring in too much outside money. So, it sounds to me like the dems are moving to the center on most subjects like smaller govt and the other issues that are usually thought of as R. They think smaller govt is the big deal to push, while still saying they favored all the stuff govt gives away. Can’t square that circle.

Kissmygrits on January 22, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Corporate officers have a legal obligation to use stockholders’ money wisely. Spending on political races can be beneficial, but the more that is spent the harder it is to justify. The stockholders are not only owed good care, but every effort to maximize profits.

If unions had to follow the same laws as corporations, most union officers would go straight to jail.

.

So it is not that Citizens United unleashed the predicted (by opponents) floods of corporate money, that didn’t happen. There still has to be a valid reason to spend that money. They are now just free to act in their interests when there is a good reason.

Adjoran on January 22, 2014 at 2:47 AM

THIS!!!

The freakout on the Left about the CU decision, including Obama’s meltdown, reflected nothing more than massive ignorance about how corporations actually work and how they allocate revenue. There were reams of nonsense abut ExxonMobil pouring a billion dollars into campaigns. Any group of executives who tried to do that would find themselves without a job real fast.

rockmom on January 22, 2014 at 10:25 AM