Stanching the Flow of Corporate Dollars into Campaigns | The Nation

Stanching the Flow of Corporate Dollars into Campaigns | The Nation:
Katrina vanden Heuvel

In the first two quarters of 2011, President Obama� raised $155 million dollars , an amount that is substantially more than what all the Republican candidates raised combined. And yet, thanks to the Roberts Supreme Court we don’t (and probably won’t ever) know who among the candidates has the most money behind their candidacy and where exactly that money comes from. This is just one of the many consequences of the�Citizens United decision, a dramatic assault on American democracy that overturned more than a century of campaign finance precedent.

It’s been nearly two years since Chief Justice John Roberts and his band of right-wing brothers held that corporations had the same right as individuals to contribute directly to political campaigns and to participate in direct advocacy on their behalf. It was in that same case that the court decided such contributions should have no limits and need not be disclosed. Not only did the court turn the spigot on full blast; it hid its source almost entirely from view. Though the court upheld the concept of disclosure, the ruling allowed 501(c)(4) organizations to raise and spend unlimited corporate money–and those organizations, by law, need not disclose.

Of course, we saw some of the effect of Citizens United in 2010, when 15 percent of all money raised came from contributions that were only made possible by the court’s ruling. But as I noted in January, the midterm elections, because they were the first to be held in the wake of the ruling, were just a test case. Conservatives and their corporate allies were dipping their toes in the water, gauging the legal boundaries of the new landscape. They liked what they found.

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