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Top Democrats release plan to counter campaign-finance ruling

By The Associated Press
02.12.10

WASHINGTON — House and Senate Democrats struck back yesterday at the Supreme Court’s decision to let corporations and unions sponsor political campaign ads, calling for tighter restrictions and more disclosure about who’s buying the spots ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.

Recipients of federal bailout money, government contractors and foreign corporations would be banned from making such campaign expenditures. CEOs of other companies paying for political ads would also have to say in each spot that he or she approved under the Democrats’ proposal.

It was the first concrete response to last month’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, seen as vastly increasing the power of corporations and unions to influence federal elections and government decisions. The action freed companies and unions to spend their millions directly to sway elections for president and Congress.

Democrats contend Republicans stand to benefit most from the court’s decision and that change is needed quickly. “Otherwise, the Supreme Court will have predetermined the winners of next November’s election,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “It won’t be Republicans, it won’t be Democrats. It’ll be corporate America.”

The justices’ Jan. 21 ruling held that the First Amendment allows corporations and unions to spend money on political campaigns without having to form political action committees and abide by fundraising limit.

That drew a complaint from President Barack Obama, who said in his State of the Union address that the ruling “reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said leaders of Congress’ Democratic majority want to put planned legislation on a fast track for votes. Van Hollen chairs the House Democrats’ election campaign operation this year. Schumer chaired the Senate Democrats’ campaign operation in 2006 and 2008, when the party won back control of the Senate and then expanded its majority.


Previous
Lawmakers pledge action to limit election spending
Senators, representatives plan to introduce legislation — including constitutional amendment — to counter high court's ruling in Citizens United. 02.03.10

Related

Court rolls back campaign-spending limits

In Citizens United v. FEC, justices also strike down part of law that barred union, corporate ads in closing days of campaigns. 01.21.10

A changed legal landscape in campaign finance

By David L. Hudson Jr. Justice Kennedy notes that, historically, direct corporate contributions to candidates have been restricted much more than corporate spending on behalf of candidates. 01.21.10

Alito objected to Obama's history claim
On basis of justice's questions in Citizens United arguments, it seems clear he took issue with assertion that ruling 'reversed a century of law.' 02.08.10

O'Connor: Campaign-finance ruling could affect judicial races
Retired Supreme Court justice says high court decision loosening restrictions on campaign spending by companies, unions could filter down to states that elect judges. 03.04.10

Current legislation & the First Amendment
By Gordon T. Belt Summary, status of bills being considered by Congress that involve First Amendment freedoms. 12.29.09

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