New Research: No Rise in Corruption Since Citizens United

September 3, 2020   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Washington, DC – The Institute for Free Speech published new research today finding no evidence of increased public corruption following the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The report analyzes federal public corruption data from the nine years before and after the decision.

Citizens United opened up new avenues to speak about campaigns. Critics never proved their claim that more speech would lead to more corruption. With this research, we find that public officials have not become more corrupt in the decade since Citizens United,” said Institute for Free Speech Research Director Scott Blackburn.

The Institute’s report, authored by IFS Research Intern Alec Greven, compares independent expenditures before and after Citizens United to public corruption prosecutions over the same period. It examines both for a federal relationship and a relationship in states most affected by the decision.

Critics of the Court’s ruling predicted that allowing nonprofits, businesses, and labor unions to independently voice their support or opposition to candidates would lead to increased corruption. The Institute’s report finds no evidence for this claim.

“The Citizens United decision is not correlated to an increase in corruption. As independent expenditures rapidly rose on the national level, public corruption prosecutions declined. A similar trend is observed in the states. If you isolate states that were most affected by Citizens United, the data show that those states experienced a steeper decline in corruption,” the report explains.

To read the report, click here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

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