Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission

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Bill Wiist

Professor, Health Sciences

Sr. Scientist, Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute

Northern Arizona University

Presented at the Left Forum

Pace University, NYC

March 19, 2011

1

Research knowledge

Advocacy

Lead industry

Tobacco industry

Asbestos

Food and beverage

Automobile safety

Child health

Healthcare reform

Firearm related injury

APHA Policies

Corporate tactics

Corporate or industry specific

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A not-for-profit organization with contributions from for-profit groups

Produced film critical of 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

“documentary” for on-demand satellite video to advertise on cable & network broadcast TV to broadcast within 30 days of primary election

Citizens United did not want to disclose funders

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•FEC regulations & PAC procedures

•Burdensome: restrain political speech

Overturned earlier laws and Court rulings

•1907-2002

•Previous prohibitions on corporate independent expenditures:

•a ban on free speech

•silence particular “voices”

•Disclosure requirements retained

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Unlimited ---

Corporate independent expenditures

Directly from corporate treasury

For political advocacy advertising

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No corporate disproportionate influence

Corporate natural personhood irrelevant

Unions have same rights

Contributions not a corrupting influence

Corporate lobbying already exists

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Issues: examples

• worker rights environmental health & sustainability occupational safety & health access to reproductive services tobacco control alcohol regulation school health education motor vehicle safety firearms pharmaceuticals and medical devices health care reform

Opposition---corporations

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Money in politics

Candidate Vulnerability

District with corporation

Incumbent voting record

Appointments to regulatory agencies

Judges

Disproportionate corporate influence

Human citizen participation

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More money spent

$4 billion in 2010 mid-term

Less reporting of sources

Lax government oversight

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2010 election cycle spending by outside groups:

$294.2 million

 vs $68.9 million in the 2006 cycle;

427% increase

~1/2 money spent ($138.5 million, or 47.1%) came from 10 groups

Public Citizen, January 2011

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Group

Top 10 Spending Outside Groups, 2010 Election Cycle

Amount Spent Disclosed

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

American Crossroads

American Action Network Inc.

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strats

American Future Fund

Americans For Job Security

SEIU COPE

Amer Fed. St, Cnty & Mun Employees

60 Plus Association

NRA America Political Victory Fund

Total $138,490,394

.

$31,207,114

$21,553,277

$20,935,958

$16,660,986

$9,610,700

$9,005,422

$8,340,028

$7,378,120

$7,096,125

$6,702,664

N

N

Y

N

N

Y

N

N

N

Y

Public Citizen, January 2011

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53.9% of 308 groups provided information about their sources of money

Groups that did not provide any information about their sources of money spent:

46.1% the total spent by outside groups during the election cycle.

Public Citizen, January 2011

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60 of 75 congressional contests with partisan power change:

• outside group spending favored the winning candidates

In Senate contests:

7-to-1 money advantage

$85 million spent linked to the Citizens United ruling

$40 million from anonymous donors

Public Citizen, January 2011

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U.S. House of Representatives

• voted 239-160 (January 2011) to eliminate public financing for presidential election

Laws effectively invalidated in 24 states

Including challenges to disclosure laws

Increased Lobbyist influence

FEC: considers donation by cell phone

U.S. Representative asked business for wish list

Former Representative used in appeal of sentence

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Add a 28 th

• amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Political speech

Personhood

Fair Elections Now Act

Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on

Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE Act)

Shareholder Protection Act

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Equal amounts of free broadcast time,

Ban political advertising if receive government money, hire lobbyists, collect most $ abroad,

Excise tax on contributions & expenditures,

Prohibit trading stock on national exchanges,

SEC disclosure of contributions,

Limit spending by foreign owned & contractors,

Rules against coordination

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State Laws

16 passed laws

City Ordinances & Resolutions

Pittsburgh, PA

Investigate Supreme Court Justices’ COI

Impeach

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¾ million people signed petitions supporting C

Amend,

100 events for January 21, 2011 anniversary,

8 U.S. Senators, 40+ Representatives endorse CAmend

Business coalition group formed

Local Chambers of Commerce withdraw

Shareholder resolutions

Bill to prohibit free university football tickets

Marry a corporation

Individuals incorporate

Public Citizen, Money and Democracy, Jan. 27, 2011; Dec. 2010

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86%---big companies have too much power & influence in W, DC

38%---corporations fairly balance profits and the public interest

40%---too much power is concentrated in the hands of big companies

78%--- limit amount corporations contribute to influence elections

61%---Congress has done too little to regulate corporations

75%---corporations should obtain shareholder approval

73%---Congress should be able to limit corporate spending to influence elections

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Public Citizen

Move To Amend

Free Speech for People

Progressive Democrats of America

Progressives United

Coffee Party

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Reframe & Refocus

Curriculum revision

Research

Election funding and PH policy

Lobbying & PH policy

Revolving door & PH policy

APHA Policy

Collaborate

Policy development

Advocate

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Large and immediate effect

Threat to public health policy

Threat to democracy

Fundamental across issues

PH research & training needed

Large, effective citizen movement

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Wiist, W.H. (March 17, 2011) Citizens United, public health and democracy: The Supreme Court ruling, its implications, and proposed action. Amer J Public Health

DOI 10.2105/AJPH.2010.300043

Brezis, M. & Wiist, W.H. (2011). Vulnerability of health to market forces. Medical Care, 49(3): 232-239.

Wiist, W.H. (Ed) (2010). The Bottom Line or Public Health:

Tactics Corporations Use to Influence Health and Health

Policy, and What We Can Do To Counter Them; NY:

Oxford University Press.

Wiist, W.H. (2006). Public health and the anticorporate movement: Rationale and recommendations. Amer J

Public Health, 96 (8), 1370-1375.

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Election Campaign Donation Information

Center for Responsive Politics http://www.opensecrets.org/

Follow the Money in State Politics http://www.followthemoney.org/

Action

Public Citizen http://democracyisforpeople.org/

Move to Amend http://movetoamend.org/?gclid=CNXOurCk06MCFQsSbAodEn3RbA

Free Speech for People http://freespeechforpeople.org/

Amend to Suspend http://pdamerica.org/iot/iotpage.php?page=Clean,%20Fair,%20Tra nsparent%20Elections

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Corso RA. Very Large Majorities Of Americans Believe Big Companies, PACs,

Political Lobbyists and the News Media Have Too Much Power and Influence in D.C.

The Harris Poll #26, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive; March 11, 2008. Available at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/Harris-Interactive-Poll-Research-Very-

Large-Majorities-Of-Americans-Believe-Big-Com-2008-03.pdf

. Accessed March 30,

2010.

Pew Research Center for People and the Press. The 2004 Political Landscape. Part 7.

Business, Government, Regulation and Labor. November 5, 2003. Available at http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=756 . Accessed April 6, 2010.

Public Citizen Congress Watch (January 2011). 12 Months After: The Effects of

Citizens United on Elections and the Integrity of the Legislative Process.

Washington, DC: Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Money and Democracy, Jan. 27, 2011; Dec. 2010

SurveyUSA. Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #16270. Americans Broadly in Favor of

Limiting What Corporations Can Spend to Influence U.S. Elections. (February 10,

2010). Available at http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollPrint.aspx?g=05cabb5f-

599f-47a8-98fb-e3e254e425e4&d=0 . Accessed March 30, 2010.

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