Channeling the Flood
No one (except a future court) can reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's unfortunate recent ruling opening the floodgates of corporate spending on election campaigns.
But at least the Congress can institute controls to keep those floodwaters from rushing in particularly harmful directions. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are preparing to introduce legislation designed to do just that, blunting some of the effects of the court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
Corporations have long taken advantage of their ability to funnel political donations anonymously through trade associations or similar groups, keeping their identity secret. That loophole is much worse than before now that the court has allowed companies to spend directly on political campaigns instead of indirectly through "issue ads." The new proposal would require organizations running ads supporting candidates to disclose their top five donors.
The Schumer-Van Hollen bill would put curbs on political involvement by government contractors, a proposal that seems overly broad and may prove divisive. But it also would limit political spending by foreign-owned corporations - something surely few Americans would find objectionable.
On balance, the legislation deserves serious consideration.
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