12 February 2010

Proposals To Counter Citizens United Ruling

NY Times: Democrats Try to Rebuild Campaign-Spending Barriers

The measure would greatly expand the scope of an existing ban on political commercials paid for by foreign corporations, ban political commercials paid for by government contractors or recipients of bailout money, and force corporations and unions to make public details of what they spend directly or through advocacy groups.

Many of the proposals, like restrictions on foreign companies or government contractors, have populist appeal, but passage would require the vote of at least one Republican senator. Five current Republican senators — led at the time by Senator John McCain of Arizona — voted for the spending rules that the court chipped away, but not one has yet embraced the Democrats’ proposals.

The sponsors said they had developed the legislation to comply with the court’s opinion in Citizens United.

Several legal scholars said that the many disclosure requirements in the measure appeared to stand on firmer constitutional ground than the full bans on political commercials by foreign companies or government contractors.

Some of the measure’s disclosure requirements could also deter corporations from political advertising. If a corporation paid for a political commercial, the company’s chief executive would be required to appear at the end taking responsibility, just as political candidates must now do. If an advocacy group or trade association paid for a commercial, the biggest donor would be required to appear and the five biggest corporate contributors would be listed by name.

The proposals also seek other novel ways to force more disclosure of corporate and interest-group contributions to advocacy groups that buy political commercials. It would force corporations and interest groups to set up political spending accounts and file reports of their activities.

No comments: