As the Senate continues to debate final passage of a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) came to the Senate floor and called Citizens United money laundering that was made legal by the Supreme Court.
During his remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Franken said,
This is real, M. President: spending by outside groups more than tripled from the 2008 presidential election to the 2012 presidential election, when it topped a billion dollars – that’s billion with a “b.” What happened in the interim? Well Citizens United was decided in 2010 – the floodgates were opened.
And, worse still, the middle-class isn’t just being flooded; it’s being blindfolded, too – because these wealthy special interest groups often can spend the money anonymously, so voters have no idea who’s behind the endless attack ads that fill the airwaves. Here’s how it works: if you have millions of dollars that you want to spend, you can funnel it through back channels so that it ends up in the hands of a group – typically one with a generic and benign-sounding name – that uses the money to buy ads, often without disclosing the source of its funds.
This whole thing looks to me a lot like money laundering – except that it’s now perfectly legal. And, again, this is real: a study just came out which showed that, in the current election cycle alone, there’s already been over 150,000 ads run by groups that don’t have to disclose the source of their funding.
And get this: things are only getting worse. Earlier this year, in a case called McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court was at it again, recklessly doing away with a law that prohibited people from giving more than $123,000, in the aggregate, directly to candidates in an election cycle. One-hundred-and-twenty-three-thousand-dollars. Who has that kind of money lying around to spend on elections? The super-rich, maybe. But the middle class sure doesn’t. The folks I meet with in Minnesota – who are trying to make ends meet, pay off their student loans, train for a new job, save some money to start a family – they sure don’t. And those are the folks who most need a voice here in Washington.
So the way I see it is this: there are two ways that we can go from here. On the one hand, we can continue to let Citizens United be the law of the land. We can perpetuate the fallacy that corporations have a constitutional right to flood our elections with undisclosed money; we can let deep-pocketed special interests buy influence and access – and then set the agenda for the rest of the country.
Or … Or, we can say, enough is enough. We can restore the law to what it was before Citizens United was decided – and, more to the point, we can restore a voice for millions upon millions of everyday Americans who want nothing more than to see their government represent them.
The majority of Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, voted with Democrats yesterday to advance a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United. The vote was not a vote on final passage. It was a vote to move towards debate and vote on passage. By not filibustering the bill yesterday, Senate Republicans have given Democrats a platform this week to discuss the attempts by right-wing billionaires and special interests to buy the government.
Senate Republicans tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people yesterday by casting a vote to move legislation forward that they have no intention of voting to pass. Republicans are hoping that you won’t notice when they vote against the constitutional amendment later this week.
Sen. Franken was correct. Citizens United is money laundering hidden behind a Supreme Court provided excuse of speech. Billionaires have flooded the campaign system with dollars, not out of patriotism, but as an attempt to buy complete and total access to elective office holders.
The Koch name has become toxic, so Republicans are trying to cover their tracks. The Citizens United decision empowered right-wing billionaires to attempt a hostile takeover of the government. If you want your country back, you can begin by supporting the movement to overturn Citizens United.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association