Monday, January 26, 2015
Brennan Center on Citizens United and Campaign Spending
The Brennan Center's Daniel Weiner recently released Citizens United Five Years Later, the Center's latest in an outstanding series of reports on Citizens United, campaign spending, and the 2014 elections.
Weiner writes that the case's biggest impact hasn't been increased corporate spending (although corporate spending has increased). Instead, Citizens United and other cases have led to a huge increase in spending by super-wealthy mega-donors:
Perhaps most important, the singular focus on the decision's empowerment of for-profit corporations to spend in (and perhaps dominate) our elections may be misplaced. Although their influence has increased, for-profit corporations have not been the most visible beneficiaries of the Court's jurisprudence. Instead--thanks to super-PACs and a variety of other entities that can raise unlimited funds after Citizens United--the biggest money (that can be traced) has come from an elite club of wealthy mega-donors. These individuals--fewer than 200 people and their spouses--has bankrolled nearly 60 percent of all super-PAC spending since 2010.
And while spending by this wealthy club has exploded, we have seen neither the increased diversity of voices that the Citizens United majority imagined, nor a massive upsurge in total election spending. In fact, for the first time in decades, the total number of reported donors has begun to fall, as has the total contributed by small donors (giving $200 or less). In 2014, the top 100 donors to super-PACs spent almost as much as all 4.75 million small donors combined.
A sobering picture.
Weiner's "can be traced" parenthetical gets some attention in the report, too, where Weiner discusses dark money, "independent" groups, and reporting requirements (or the lack of reporting requirements)--all features of a post-Citizens United world.
Here's Weiner on Tweet the Press with Chuck Todd. And here's the Brennan Center's Ciara Torres-Spelliscy on what Congress should do about it.
And just how will the Brennan Center's public financing hobby horse curtail the rise of superPAC dominance? We truly need to address both Buckley and Citizens United if we hope to preserve democracy in America. Analysis here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9lgVX60_UrIRkRuMnI1ak1Lckk/view?usp=sharing
Posted by: Samuel A. Fedele | Jan 27, 2015 7:29:22 AM