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Campaign Finance and Election Reform

Law & Society
by

Ken Ryan

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Campaign Finance and Election Reform

History of Campaign Finance Radical Change...Or is it? Core Citzens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC)
558 U.S. 310 (2010) The Decision Americans for a Better
Tomorrow, Tomorrow Stephen Colbert's
Attack on Super PACS Is it all a joke? 1. The Super PAC "If you wanna be a political playa in 2012, you need a PAC" Main Issue:
Are corporations (including non-profit corporations) and unions in violation of the First Amendment by spending on "electioneering communications"? Application? "Soft Money" to 527s to Super PACs 2. Hidden Money Colbert accepting money for his Super PAC outside the FEC Violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution corporations, Unions, and Non-Profit Organizations can campaign freely Campaign regulations remain intact 3. Coordination Under Section 501(c)(4) of the Tax Code, non-profit organizations can funnel unlimited amounts money into Super PACs while keeping their donors anonymous These organizations must not have political campaigns as their primary function BUT... PAC Campaign Ad #1 PAC Campaign Ad #2 According to FEC... Calling for the election or defeat of a candidate = Political Asking the viewer to take action on a policy or issue, even if criticizing or praising a candidate = Issue Advocacy Many Senators have raised this issue to the IRS asking for investigation, and many of these organizations still have pending applications, BUT... The IRS does not want to get in the middle of major political controversy "I would suspect that Mr. Colbert would not want his activities to serve as a vehicle for opening up major loopholes in the campaign finance laws that would allow companies to provide secret money to influence elections,"
-- Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 “With your help and with possibly the help of some outside group that I am not coordinating with, we can explore taking this country back. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless Citizens United.” "While these advertisements would be fully coordinated with incumbent Members of Congress facing re-election in 2012, they would presumably not qualify as 'coordinated communications."
-- in a letter to the FEC from Karl Rove's Super PAC asking permission to include members of Congress in ads The decision was split 3-3 neither granting permission, nor denying it Real Consequences Current Spending... Candidates' Stance Vacuum in political fund raising Impact of McCain-Feingold Disclosure Act: Failed in Rep Senate
Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections BUT... Was he really trying? Soft Money vs. 527s and Super PACs Do you believe the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is based on how much money each candidate can raise?

SC- "No its about how much speech they can express because money equals speech. It doesn't matter if the speech comes from money or your mouth. The more money you have the more you can speak" Unlimited Corporate Contributions Romney plans on "cutting back the red tape of regulation" ROMNEY/RYAN OBAMA/BIDEN They both recognize the unfavorable results of the decision, but are unwilling to take a stance because they would be shooting their campaign in the foot Very controversial PAC Campaign Ad #3 Corporations' #1 priority= profit Non-profits & Advocacy Orgs true beneficiaries Outside money spent from: 2004 to 2008= +164%
2008 to 2012= +135% Future Ramifications Conservative outspending Liberal Super PACs Citizens United has intensified, not created, current political spending climate Prior Cases Financing Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Ruling:
Regulation of the financing of political campaigns

Two Issues Soft Money Advocacy ads Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances The case said that prohibiting corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates does not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendments Fourteenth Amendment Guidelines for Citizenship and voting McConnell v. Federal
Election Commission, Upheld most ofthe Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act The United States allows for a combination of
both Private and Public Financing Buckley vs. Valeo Ruling: Upheld a Federal Law
that set limits
on contributions Discussion Questions 1) Where do you think the majority of money that has been raised so far in the election has come from?
A. Super PACs
B. Candidates
C. The government
D. Corporations
E. Individual citizens

2) Do you agree or disagree that corporations should be able to spend unlimited amount of money on political campaigns?
A. Agree
B. Disagree - For those who agree with Citizens United: Do you feel that overturning the Citizens United Ruling would limit freedom of political expression?

- For those who disagree with Citizens United: Is there a point when freedom of speech has to be tailored or navigated? Polling Questions - counsel in favor of abandoning Austin
-this contravenes the precedents set in Buckley and Bellotti
-Code 441(b)'s prohibition DEMOCRACY Colbert's is using his attack on campaign finance as an “opportunity to open up to the rest of the world what we lawyers already know: that the whole area of campaign finance is a mess.”
-Trevor Porter, Former Chairman of FEC and Colbert's personal Lawyer 2012 Election "Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United. Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change." "What we have right now is unlimited political contributions, but they're not controlled by the campaigns... which, in my opinion, is the worst of both worlds. It means that large contributions have a big impact, and it means that the campaign can't control them." Ryan has called the DISCLOSE act "unconstitutional" for allowing Congress to choose winners and losers when it comes to free speech Hot Topic: Elections Citizens United vs.
Federal Election Commission
Full transcript