Common Cause Reports on Possible Ramifications of Citizens United Case
by Amanda Adams*, 11/3/2009
The Supreme Court may soon decide the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) case, which could drastically change elections with an increased amount of corporate political spending. In preparation for the outcome, Common Cause has released a report titled, "Corporate Democracy: Potential fallout from a Supreme Court decision on Citizens United."
"In theory, if corporations spent about one-third of what they currently spend on lobbying during a two-year election cycle on direct political advocacy, they could outspend all Congressional candidates combined."
The report reviews the potential consequences from the case, examines political spending of corporations versus unions, and uses California as an example of a state that allows unlimited corporate political spending. Common Cause predicts that the court will "overturn precedent and rule in favor of removing restrictions on corporate spending in elections."
Common Cause considers the amount of money corporations already spend every year to influence public policy. "While the current system bars direct corporate and union political spending, those entities are still able to wield considerable electoral influence through PACs, 527s, bundling and executive giving. [. . .] When it comes to lobbying – where corporations and unions can tap their treasuries without restriction – corporations and unions spend more in any given election cycle than candidates spend on their own campaigns."
The report states further, "If the Supreme Court lifts the ban on using corporate profits for political spending, corporations would likely spend vastly more than labor unions. During the 2008 election cycle, corporations outspent organized labor 4:1 on political action committee (PAC) contributions, but 61:1 on lobbying."