Opinion: Citizens United 1 Year Later — Unleash the Corruption

Written by admin on January 23rd, 2011

On the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United, here is a view from Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center.

Meredith McGehee

While a donor who gave the maximum contributions of about $5,000 will get his call returned, imagine what spending $2 million on ads hammering an opponent will buy? It is simply human nature that the candidate is going to feel an understandable sense of gratitude to the big donor.

As a result, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the Citizens United case — which extended this independent expenditure exemption to corporations and labor unions — is based on the complete fiction that an independent expenditure is necessarily less corrupting than a direct contribution. The magnitude of corporate treasury funds is a game changer.

Kennedy’s profound disconnect with the real world was underscored by his misinformed belief that current disclosure laws would provide an adequate brake on possible resulting corruption. But corporations can now evade disclosure of their political spending by simply laundering their money through trade associations and 501(c)(4) groups, thus avoiding public exposure and possible backlash.

As long as the fiction of independent expenditures persists and the illogic of Citizens United remains unchanged, our country is in for a long and dubious period equivalent to the robber-baron politics of the late 19th century.


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