Monday, February 27, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #45 - Part 1

Citizens United hits Montana

The Supreme Court has handed another big victory to corporations wanting to control the outcome of election campaigns.

In December, the Montana state supreme court upheld a century-old state law banning independent corporation campaign spending in state elections. The law was passed in wake of clear proof of the copper barons in the state trying to quite literally buy elections. That is, the idea damage from money in politics was not a hypothetical, it was based on experience.

The US Supreme Court has now suspended that decision pending a ruling on whether the Montana law violates the notorious Citizens United decision. The result is that corporations can now spend as much as they want in Montana for the June 5 presidential primary as well as the November elections, since no one expects a Supreme Court decision will come down before then.

A bitterly amusing footnote is that article that served as the source for this said the Court's order "cleared the way for corporations, unions and other groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on ads and other political activities." Right, like unions and corporations are on equal footing here.

And in another, this one a revealing, footnote: You know all those Super-Pacs raising all that unlimited money in this year's presidential race? According to an analysis of their financial reports by USA Today, just under 25% of the entire amount raised by all of them has been put up by precisely five incredibly rich people.

Dallas industrialist Harold Simmons has donated $14.4 million; Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam put up $10M (and Adelson says he's ready to put up tens of millions more); Houston home builder Bob Perry came up with $3.6 million, and Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal, donated $2.6 million, a mere piker in this crowd.

The case is American Tradition Partnership v. Attorney General of Montana, No. 11-A762

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