With Citizens United Decision and Rise of Super PACs in 2012 Election, Now is the Time for Campaign Finance Reform

It is time for serious and lasting campaign finance reform in light of the landmark January 2010 Citizens United decision and the rise of Super PACs.

The case was brought by Citizens United, a conservative 501(c)(4) not-for-profit corporation engaged in issue advocacy and education, stemming from a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. The organization charged that 2004 pre-election ads for left-wing film producer Michael Moore’s movie, “Fahenheit 9/11” (a political film that attacked George W. Bush’s response to 9/11), constituted political advertising and thus under then current law, may not be aired 60 days before an election or 30 days before a party convention. 

Citizens can only contribute to a candidate in the district of their domicile. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise), or unions with a nexus to a congressional candidate can make a monetary contribution to that candidate. The “nexus” must be a test of the relationship to the district as determined by Congress. Congress shall determine maximum contribution amounts by individuals, unions and corporations. National, state and local political parties shall have caps set on their contributions to House candidates — directly or indirectly — as determined by Congress. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise), and unions must disclose to shareholders/members and the FEC the amount spent on “electioneering” communications, and where such monies were spent prior to — or concurrently — with the communications being made. Such organizations must also disclose the content of communications. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise) and unions must advertise in their own names and disclose within the advertising their name and nexus to the district in which the advertising appears.

Senate Races

Citizens can only contribute to a Senate candidate in the state of their domicile. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise), or unions with a nexus to a state can make a monetary contribution to a Senate candidate. The “nexus” must be a test of the relationship to the state as determined by Congress. Congress shall determine maximum contribution amounts by individuals, unions and corporations. National, state and local parties shall have caps set on their contributions to U.S. senatorial candidates — directly or indirectly — as determined by Congress. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise), and unions must disclose to shareholders/members and the FEC the amount of monies spent on “electioneering” communications and where such monies were spent prior to — or concurrently — with the communications being made. Such organizations must also disclose the content of the communication. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise) and unions must advertise in their own names and must disclose within the advertising their name and nexus to the state in which the ad appears.

Presidential Races

Citizens can contribute to presidential primaries and general elections in amounts determined by Congress, however such donations can only be used by campaigns in the state of their domiciles. A corporation, (not-for-profit or otherwise), or union can make a monetary contribution to a presidential candidate’s primary and/or general election. Such donations can only be used by campaigns in the state of their nexus. For instance, if General Motors has a plant in Michigan it can donate in an amount to be determined by Congress and can only be used in Michigan. Congress shall determine maximum contribution amounts for individuals, unions, and corporations. National, state and local parties shall have caps set on their contributions to general election campaigns and conventions — directly or indirectly — as determined by Congress. Corporations, (not-for-profit or otherwise), and unions must disclose to shareholders/members and the FEC the amount of monies spent on “electioneering” communications and where such monies were spent prior to, or concurrently with the communications being made. They must also disclose the content of the communication. Corporations (not-for-profit or otherwise) and unions must advertise in their own names and must disclose their identity within the advertising.

Personal Wealth: A candidate for the House, Senate or presidency can spend whatever personal wealth they wish without limit, however, once a candidate passes a certain threshold of contribution — decided by Congress — the U.S. government will match that contribution to the opponent.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This piece originally appeared on Newsmax.