by Dan Eggen“I think there’s a real possibility that super PACs won’t be that important in the general election after all,” said Bradley A. Smith, a former Republican-appointed chairman of the Federal Election Commission who advocates fewer restrictions on political spending. “Obama’s got a huge amount of money, and he will probably vastly outspend Romney, assuming he’s the nominee.”
by Dan Froomkin“I don’t generally accept the theory that the Supreme Court didn’t know what it was doing,” said Allen Dickerson, legal director at the Center for Competitive Politics, which opposes restrictions on campaign financing. “I think they were aware of the regulatory context in which they were acting.” And the ruling did not include any sort of “plea for additional regulation,” he said.
EditorialThe Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United in 2010 was shaped by an extreme view of the First Amendment: money equals speech, and independent spending by wealthy organizations and individuals poses no problem to the political system. The court cavalierly dismissed worries that those with big bank accounts — and big megaphones — have an unfair advantage in exerting political power. It simply asserted that “the people have the ultimate influence over elected officials” — as if campaigns were not in the business of influencing and manipulating voters.
EditorialSince 1940, it has been illegal for federal government contractors to contribute to federal political campaigns or parties. But in the new unregulated, unlimited jungle of campaign finance, Mitt Romney’s super PAC is allowing some contractors to violate that historic ban, taking yet another dangerous step toward a culture where government business is done on a pay-to-play basis.
by Anna PalmerThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long dominated congressional elections, making and breaking candidates in races across the country.
by Jeff BrindleIn the wake of the Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court has become less popular than Darth Vader in the eyes of most good government advocates. But as a regulator, I’m not sure the Court deserves such animosity. The Citizens United case may have added to the frenzied fundraising atmosphere, but it hardly started it.
by Jim SleeperThis short, troubling PBS NewsHour segment on the Chinese-government’s new American TV News network, CCTV, must be causing some sleepless afternoons at the Supreme Court for conservative justices who opened the door to this with the Citizens United ruling.
EditorialThe DISCLOSE Act of 2012 is a good start toward reasonable campaign finance reform.
by Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseThe American people are making it clear that they’re fed up with a system that gives special treatment to special interests while middle-class families suffer.
EditorialNot long after the court issued that decision, Democrats introduced legislation that sought to repair some of the damage by requiring the biggest contributors to identify themselves. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House but failed by a single vote in the Senate.
Candidates and parties
When Republicans came to believe in the 1960s that they were up against a “liberal biased” media that would never give them a fair shake, they began the long march to build their own, alternative information establishment. As chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Mark Fowler, led the fight to abolish the “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987, further empowering what was already a legion of right-wing talk radio programs.
by Mary Jo Pitzl“The Court is unaware of any other situation in which a person or entity has sought to preclude a government commission from communicating with the citizenry — that’s not how government works,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain wrote.
by Matt GourasThe Montana attorney general’s office filed new arguments Friday in the ongoing court battle over Montana’s political spending restrictions, saying the state’s ban on corporate campaign contributions is constitutional.