“Never heard of it.” This was a response I got all too often as I went door-to-door as a volunteer collecting signatures for I-735, a grassroots movement to make Washington the 18th state to ask Congress to overturn Citizens United. It was disheartening to learn that so many people knew so little about something so important.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the 2010 Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission (FEC), gave corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited sums to call for the election or defeat of individual candidates. It’s the “corporations are people, too” decision, as Mitt Romney referred to it in his 2012 bid for the Presidency.
Citizens United overturned decades of campaign finance law, most particularly the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) aka, the McCain-Feingold Act. The hotly-debated decision threw open the floodgates on campaign spending and opened a Pandora’s Box of other challenges to campaign financing based on Citizens United arguments.
Trevor Potter, appearing with Colbert helped demonstrate how current campaign laws spawned PACs, and Super PACs and “social welfare organizations,” designed to circumvent this remaining restriction, and to hide their donors from public scrutiny.
On the other hand, 501(c)(4) organizations, the so-called “social welfare organizations,” like the Koch Brothers ‘Americas for Prosperity,’ can do all of the above. And they do. And they do not disclose their donors. The Clinton Foundation does.
If you want to clean up the current mess we call campaign financing, a good place to start would be a “Yes” vote on I-735. Google it.