The US SupCo ruling on corporate cash in campaigns

Here’s a link to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlaws limits on what corporations, unions and non-profit groups may spend on federal races —  the presidential race, as well as campaigns for seats in the U.S. House and Senate.

If you’ve been following this case — Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission — you know it had something to do with “Hillary: the movie” and a lot to do about the First Amendment.  Campaigns & Elections has a lengthy piece with more background (thanks to Ben Smith at The Politico for pointing it out).

Iowa legislators were mulling the ruling’s impact on an Iowa law which restricts corporate contributions to state candidates.

Iowa’s Attorney General issued a statement at about 5:20 this evening. Read it below:

Statement of Attorney General Tom Miller
Comment on Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision
January 21, 2010

“We are analyzing the Court’s decision and its impact on Iowa law, which must be consistent with the Court’s decision today.

“The decision relates specifically to independent expenditures by corporations and makes it unconstitutional to ban such expenditures.  The portion of Iowa’s statute that prohibits corporations from making independent expenditures that expressly advocate that voters should vote for or against a specific candidate is unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s decision today.

“The Court’s decision does not specifically address direct corporate contributions to candidates’ campaign committees, but the rationale of today’s decision raises questions in that realm, and we will review those questions over the next few days.”

Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines, Iowa) was quick to issue a statement early this afternoon, then his staff emailed that Boswell backs a constitutional amendment that would restrict corporate and union groups’ spending on ads in federal campaigns.  Read the news release below.

Boswell Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Restrict Political Spending by Corporations, Unions

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Leonard Boswell introduced a constitutional amendment to restrict corporations and labor organizations from using operating and general treasury funds to bankroll federal campaign advertisements in response to the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling today that overturned 20 years of campaign law.

“I have introduced this important legislation today because the Supreme Court’s ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans,” said Boswell, a founding member of the Populist Caucus. “The Court’s elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly.”

“Corporations already have an active role in American political discourse through million-dollar political action committees and personal donations to campaigns,” Boswell said. “The legislation I introduced today will prevent the Wall Street corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars from turning around and pouring that same money into candidates that will prevent financial regulation on their industry. No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote.”

H.J.Res. 68 would disallow a corporation or labor organization from using any operating funds or any other funds from its general treasury to make any payment for any advertisement in connection with a federal election campaign, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election of defeat of a specified candidate in the election.

A few minutes later, Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron, Iowa) issued a statement via email.  Read it below.

King: Supreme Court Decision a Victory for Free Speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Steve King (R-IA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, today made the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This decision upheld the First Amendment rights of individuals and businesses.

“The First Amendment to the Constitution clearly states that Congress shall make no law ‘abridging the freedom of speech.’ The Constitution protects the rights of citizens and employers to express their viewpoints on political issues. Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms the Bill of Rights and is a victory for liberty and free speech.”

Roxanne Conlin, one of the Democrats who’s running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, issued a statement late this afternoon.  Read it below.


(DES MOINES) – Following is a statement from Democratic Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin regarding today’s Supreme Court decision:

“The last thing Iowans need is to give the special interests more influence in politics—and it’s why I’m so disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision.

“Senator Grassley has nearly $2 million in PAC and lobbyist money already in his campaign coffers.  During his 50 years in elected office he’s carried the water for Wall Street, even using billions of taxpayer dollars to bail them out.  He enriched the pharmaceutical industry when he authored legislation that increased drug prices for consumers and profits for them.

“Because of today’s decision corporations who have foreclosed on our neighbors homes, charged credit card rates that would shame a loan shark and polluted our water and air will have an even greater voice in our political process.  The special interests will have a louder voice at the expense of everyday Americans.”

And finally, Iowa’s secretary of state — the statewide officeholder who serves as the state’s commissioner of elections — issued a statement.  Read it below.


DES MOINES – Secretary of State and Commissioner of Elections, Michael A. Mauro, today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign donations:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling removing the restriction on corporate election donations opens up an already flawed system in which special interests and powerful big business will gain greater control of the political agenda. Now more than ever, campaign finance reform needs to be addressed on the state and national level,” stated Mauro.

“It has been evident for years big money and special interests have influenced campaigns, crowned candidates and controlled policy agenda at the expense of the public. The court’s decision will take misleading campaign advertising to unprecedented levels. I urge legislators to take a serious and objective look at true campaign finance reform that puts politics back on a level playing field for everyone seeking public office.”

Todd Dorman, a columnist for The Cedar Rapids Gazette, blogged about the ruling. Kathie Obradovich, a columnist for The Des Moines Register, talked with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) about the ruling.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.