Everyone hates Citizens United ruling

BooMan points to Jonathan Chait in New York magazine, Jim Worth in the Huffington Post and the continued viability of the Newt Gingrich for President train-wreck and concludes Republicans are rethinking their elation over the Citizens United ruling:

Republicans and Democrats hate the Citizens United ruling for different reasons, but it's important that they both hate it. It means there might be some hope of doing something about it. Now, the easiest way to change the law is to replace one of the five conservative Supreme Court Justicies (Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, or Thomas) with a Justice who thinks they ruled incorrectly. If the president gets a second term in office, there is a decent actuarial chance that he'll get that opportunity. However, as long as the ruling remains the law of the land, the only way to change it is to pass a constitutional amendment. Organizations like Public Citizen and Common Cause are already organizing events to build support for an amendment-drive. Democracy for America has collected over 100,000 signatures in support of overturning Citizens United through a constitutional amendment. DFA's members are in the process of delivering these signatures to their U.S Senators in the coming weeks. These efforts paint a clear picture. The ruling is unpopular with the public. It has created a system that the candidates don't like. If, say, Newt Gingrich wins the GOP nomination and then loses the election very badly, the Republican Establishment may become amenable to the idea that Citizens United was wrongly decided.

It's undeniable Gingrich would be out were it not for a single large donor and SuperPAC support, and that has Republicans seeing a problem with SuperPAC money, what with him being Newt and all.  But public disapproval or not I don't see Republicans joining in any effort to curtail the speeding train of money the Supremes set in motion with the ruling.  The potential payoff for them is just too sweet.  Their efforts to avoid a "Newt" problem in the future will be focused on dissolving the already weak divisions between candidates and their SuperPACs.  Newbie Utah Senator Mike Lee's request for his own SuperPAC met with hysterical laughter at the FEC hearing, but it's not the last we'll about it.  Lee's own lawyer in that FEC case, Dan Backer, seems to be making a career out of similar court challenges.  They will exploit every vaguery and loophole before they'll sign onto any amendment or legislative shackle of the ruling.

Countering Citzens United is going to require massive public education, post facto, on the election we're about to see play out.  2012 will be the first highly visible test of SuperPAC influence and money.  And public approval/disapproval of the ruling may shift.  The money being spent is influencing voters, which might translate into voters feeling more informed (stranger things have happened). More likely, the barrage of SuperPAC messaging will be digested with skepticism, even irritation, giving Democrats enough leverage to move a vote or two in a second attempt at the DISCLOSE Act.


Executive Order on Corporate Spending Disclosure Coming?

AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld (h/t Election Law Blog):

“There’s a lot of movement at the White House,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “I just had a meeting at the White House counsel’s office, trying to encourage them to move forward with the executive order. They have the perfect window of opportunity to get the executive order done.”

“It’s simple—any company that is paid with taxpayer dollars should be required to disclose political contributions,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who has pushed for the White House to issue the order. “With public dollars come public responsibilities, and I hope President Obama will issue his executive order right away.”

The order, if issued, would likely be the only campaign finance initiative to emerge from Washington this year as nothing is expected from Congress.

Expect to hear a lot of squawking about this from Republicans and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, arguably one of the biggest benefactors of undisclosed corporate donations.

"Many of the government contractors that would be captured under the executive order probably are the big contributors to the Chamber of Commerce, so as a result, the chamber is pursuing their battle against this with extreme vigilance," said Craig Holman, lobbyist for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, one of 30 organizations that sent Obama a letter last week urging him to sign the order.

Nonprofit 501(c) groups, as the third-party groups are legally known, plowed at least $134 million from secret donors into the last election — $119 million of which was spent by GOP allies, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The order would require disclosure of any contribution over $5,000, and has the signature support of 62 House Democrats.  Worth noting in advance of the pearl clutching over corporate free-speech, the information is mostly available already.  The order would simply centralize the info in one public database, and clarify penalties for non-compliance.


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