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Who is buying the U.S. midterm elections? 2010-Oct-06 at 12:16 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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We don’t know.  Thanks to the Citizens United ruling – the one that President Obama criticized in his State of the Union speech, where we saw Justice Alito mouth the words "not true" when the Supreme Court was called out – we now have a system where any group can spend any amount of money on any "issue" they want… which is in practice an unlimited supply of money to get particular people elected.

From Midterm campaigns, brought to you by . . . ?, by Eugene Robinson, 5-Oct-2010:

According to The Post, $80 million has been spent on midterm election campaigns by these shadowy "independent" groups — as opposed to just $16 million at this point in the 2006 midterm cycle.

I put "independent" in quotes because this spending is anything but. Officially, groups such as Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads are not allowed to spend on behalf of specific candidates; rather, they are supposed to confine themselves to such anodyne activities as highlighting issues and advocating policy positions. In practice, however, this gives them the latitude to attack one candidate — a Democrat, say — for his or her position on health care, financial reform or whatever.

The Supreme Court made all this possible with its ruling early this year, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which legalized unlimited campaign spending by corporations, unions, trade associations and other such entities. And the independent-expenditure groups with the patriotic names are often structured as nonprofits, which means they are not required to disclose their donors publicly.

I’m afraid I don’t know enough about the specifics of the ruling to know how much latitude Congress has to create a narrower statute that reinstates disclosure or limitation of funding.  It may not have any.  Even if it does, I don’t have any confidence that Congress has the political will to turn off the funding trough it feeds at.

Once again… term limits solves these problems.