By Thomas FitzgeraldWhen the current court decided Citizens United, the majority opinion did not mention corporate personhood. It didn’t have to, said law professor Bradley A. Smith, because “it’s a deeply rooted legal doctrine.”Practicality drives the idea, allowing people to own property together, for instance. “If you didn’t have it, you couldn’t sue a corporation as an individual person; you’d have to serve papers on every shareholder,” said Smith, an expert on campaign finance law who teaches at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.
By Sarah LeeBy now everyone’s heard (well, everyone who cares about campaign finance regulation has heard) about the Obama (c)(4) “Organizing for Action,” and there’s some debate in free speech circles about whether or not the Obama administration’s obvious bumping up against the hypocrisy line is something to be lauded or lambasted. Do we, for example, congratulate Obama for embracing the (c)(4) as a model — despite, of course his four-year diatribe against dark money and outside groups that never have to report donors buying elections? Or, do we take a minute to stop and acknowledge that the chances that the free political speech crowd has managed to convert the Obama campaign team is pretty slim and perhaps there’s another agenda at work?
By Megan R. Wilson and Zack ColmanOn Tuesday, the advocacy group Public Citizen called upon the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate the donation, claiming the gift violated campaign finance laws that prohibit companies that contract with the federal government from making direct contributions to committees, parties and candidates.
By Donovan SlackThe web video is an infomercial parody for “Organizing for Acce$$” and recalls former President Bill Clinton’s allowing top-dollar contributors to stay in the Lincoln bedroom and recounts Obama’s promise to change the way Washington works and squelch the influence of special interests.
By Jonathan BackerDid the Supreme Court take the next Citizens United? The Court agreed to hear McCutcheon v. FEC, a case challenging the federal aggregate contribution limit — the total any one donor can contribute to all candidates, party committees, and PACs. Striking down this limit would once again uproot our nation’s campaign finance landscape. It would allow incumbents to gather seven-figure checks for their political parties, and pave the way for challenges to other limits.
By Zephyr TeachoutWe’ve got a fairly cynical and fast-moving press corps. They get that money in politics is a problem, and they will write that story. But they haven’t shared with the national public that there is a working model — from Connecticut, Maine, Arizona, and New York City — that actually changes who runs for office and who they work for.
By Mark SchmittThe public financing systems in Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut, which have been resilient, strongly supported by the public, upheld in the courts, and used by almost as many Republicans as Democrats, fall into this category. So does the generous matching system in New York City that has the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and a growing number of legislators, which can serve as a model for legislation elsewhere. So can Minnesota’s system, which is currently unfunded but which until a few years ago offered a quickly refundable tax credit for small contributions along with a match on the candidate side. All of these systems can be considered part of a broad experiment, and scholars are looking closely at them to see whether they change who runs for office, who donates, and ultimately whether the states’ political processes are more responsive to the public.
Lobbying and Ethics
By Kevin Bogardus and Ben GoadK Street firms are predicting a strong rebound in 2013.
By Ryan MurphyTexas candidates and officeholders would have to file quarterly campaign finance reports — instead of semiannual ones — under legislation filed by Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, who wants to overhaul parts of the state’s financial disclosure laws.