Fourth Circuit Upholds Ban on Corporate Contributions in Danielczyk

While every other attorney in the country is reading the lengthy opinion regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we at CCP offer a much shorter opinion that directly impacts Americans’ political speech rights. Today, in the case of United States v. Danielczyk, the Fourth Circuit upheld the Federal government’s direct ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court affirmed the principle that the government cannot prohibit the speech of Americans based on their decision to associate in the corporate form. But only for independent expenditures, because there is no real nexus between independent speech and corruption or the appearance thereof. Once those same individuals associate together in the corporate form and contribute money directly to a campaign, Federal law still prohibits that expressive activity.

But, as CCP presented in our amicus brief to the Fourth Circuit , evidence indicates that there is simply no correlation between corporate contributions and corruption. Using authoritative data (U.S. Department of Justice statistics on public corruption convictions), we actually found that four of the five states with lowest indices of public corruption permit contributions in their state’s political campaigns. Meanwhile, four of the five  most corrupt states actually have laws mirroring the Federal ban for their state campaigns. In point of fact, one of the least corrupt states in the country under this methodology is Oregon, which permitsunlimited corporate contributions.

Drs. Jeffrey Milyo and David Primo (CCP academic advisers) also filed their own amicus brief before the Court, illustrating their own findings that “overwhelming majority of empirical studies have found virtually no relationship between trust in government and political contributions and spending.”

We at CCP look forward to the inevitable appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

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