Naturally, Idiot doesn’t like the US declaring their version of the EFA unlawful.
Last week, in a disastrous decision for American democracy, the US Supreme Court struck down third-party spending limits in federal elections. Writing in the Independent, Johann Hari points out exactly what that means:
So if you anger the investment bankers by supporting legislation to break up the too-big-to-fail banks, you will smack into a wall of 24/7 ads exposing your every flaw. If you displease oil companies by supporting legislation to deal with global warming, you will now be hit by a tsunami of advertising saying you are opposed to jobs and the American Way. If you rile the defence contractors by opposing the gargantuan war budget, you will face a smear-campaign calling you Soft on Terror.
Representative Alan Grayson says: “It basically institutionalises and legalises bribery on the largest scale imaginable. Corporations will now be able to reward the politicians that play ball with them – and beat to death the politicians that don’t… You won’t even hear any more about the Senator from Kansas. It’ll be the Senator from General Electric or the Senator from Microsoft.”
This is exactly the problem we saw in 2005 with the Exclusive Brethren, and exactly the problem we were trying to prevent here with the Electoral Finance Act.
I must have missed the “tsunami of advertising” that the Exclusive Brethren created. I do remember a tsunami of bad PR that had the exact opposite effect to what the EB intended, once it was revealed who was behind the few pamphlets that were distributed.
I also remember that the EFA didn’t actually end up restricting an EB style campaign very much at all.
Thanks to this decision, we are likely to get thoroughly educated in why such restrictions are necessary. In order to be meaningful, democracy requires a level playing field, where all voices can be heard. When the wealthy can just buy the outcome by drowning out (or threatening to drown out) all other voices, then the result ceases to be democratic.
Funny story: most people who share I/S’s viewpoint actually think that the old US law created such a situation. Not that they understood the old law, they just saw the effects and assumed the law was bad. It was deeply ironic how many of those opposed to supporting the EFA wrote submissions saying “we don’t want to become like the US”.
Oh, and it may or may not surprise people to learn that Obama lied through his teeth during his State of the Unions speech when it comes to the effect of the ruling.
Tonight the president engaged in demogoguery of the worst kind, when he claimed that last week’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, “open[ed] the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
The president’s statement is false.
The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making “a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election” under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any “expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication.”
This is either blithering ignorance of the law or demagoguery of the worst kind.— Bradley A. Smith is Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University Law School