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California Senate joins push to restore campaign finance restrictions

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 5:57 pm in campaign finance.

The California Senate has joined the burgeoning opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark  Citizens v. Federal Commission decision, in which justices overturned the ban on corporate and labor union campaign contributions to federal candidates.

Here’s what Common Cause, one of the proponents of a move to push Congress to support a constitutional amendment that would restore the restrictions, put out a few minutes ago after the Senate vote in Sacramento:

California Urges Congress to Overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

 Becomes largest state to voice opposition to Supreme Court decision

 Moments ago, the California State Senate approved a resolution that calls on Congress to support a constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that repealed bans on corporate and labor money in politics. Today’s vote puts the country’s most populous state on the record in opposition to Citizens United.

 “This unjust ruling cannot stand,” said Derek Cressman, who leads efforts to reverse Citizens United by the non-partisan group Common Cause. “Californians are disgusted by the huge sums of shadowy money that has been unleashed in the nation’s elections. If money is speech, then speech is no longer free.”

 More than twenty California cities have passed similar resolutions, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Nevada City, and Chico, The city council of Richmond has placed a measure on this November’s ballot giving voters the opportunity to directly instruct their congressional delegation to reverse the Citizens United ruling. Common Cause is working with other cities in California to do the same thing as part of its Amend2012 campaign (www.Amend2012.org).

 The Citizens United ruling has been widely criticized for using the logic that corporations deserve the same constitutional rights as real people and that spending unlimited sums of money to influence elections is the equivalent of the free speech rights to speak one’s mind without fear of government repercussions. Comedian Stephen Colbert had lampooned the so-called SuperPACs that sprang from the Citizens Untied ruling and other court actions on late night TV. Wealthy individuals such as Las Vegas casino operator Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch, and Foster Friess used SuperPACs to significantly alter the course of the Republican presidential primary. The Los Angeles Times reports that George Soros will be giving $2 million to two Democratic leaning SuperPACs aimed at promoting voter turnout in the November election. Karl Rove has created a SuperPAC and an allied non-profit that shields its donors from disclosure that are expected to spend more than $200 million on the November elections.

 Supporters of today’s action included Common Cause, CALPIRG, Public Citizen, California Church Impact, the League of Conservation Voters, and other groups. The organizations turned in more than 50,000 petition signatures gathered from within California to support the measure.

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  • JohnW

    From the headlines:

    “Senate Dems raise $2.5 million off Supreme Court ruling”

    “Romney campaign breaks fundraising record in June.” $100 million in June, following $76.8 million in May. Mitt must be one popular dude.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    These progs mentioned George Soros in passing just to show how “non-partisan” they are. Fact is, they are royally ticked off rich liberals are stingy when compared with
    Conservatives.

  • LMA

    The article wrongly asserts that Citizens United is a case “in which justices overturned the ban on corporate and labor union campaign contributions to federal candidates.” That’s not even close to accurate. If you’re going to have a blog devoted to news and politics, you should begin by getting your facts straight.

  • JohnW

    Re: #6

    The fact that, as a result of Citizens United, you (union, individual, corporation) can spend unlimited amounts to elect or defeat a candidate or issue but can’t give directly to the candidate is a distinction without a difference.

    There’s lots of confusion about PAC’s, SuperPAC’s, and 501(c)(4) nonprofits. I’m still sorting out what is or isn’t related to Citizen’s United. However, my understanding is that the emergence of SuperPAC’s and the 501(c)(4)’s as the mega-force in the 2012 election cycle is totally related to the Citizens United decision. SuperPAC’s can’t contribute directly to a candidate, but they can spend unlimited amounts to elect or defeat a candidate or an issue but can’t (wink, wink) coordinate with the candidates. The 501(c)(4) nonprofits can’t campaign specifically for or against a candidate, but they can run issue advertising that amounts to the same thing. Their advantage is that donors aren’t subject to disclosure. Apparently, corporations and superrich individuals are giving big time to these nonprofits because of the anonymity — far more than they are giving to SuperPAC’s. I think unions still go primarily the SuperPAC route, because they don’t care that much about anonymity.

    Still can’t figure out why my name gets disclosed on an FEC website if I donate more than $200 to a candidate, but a guy whose wealth comes from a casino in Macau (i.e. China) can pump $100 million into elections via a 501(c)(4) and stay anonymous

  • Truthclubber

    @4 –

    That’s an easy one — it’s because you contribute to Democrats (and “we” need to know who you are so as to suppress you down the road) — those anarchistic impulsives for change that you feel don’t apply to the wealthy, ruling class and so they don’t need their political behavior regulated.