Al Franken Drops a Truth Bomb On The Senate: Citizens United Is Money Laundering

al franken

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.

54 Replies to “Al Franken Drops a Truth Bomb On The Senate: Citizens United Is Money Laundering”

  1. I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

    Andrew Jackson

  2. Citizens United will never be over-turned until the Con-servatives lose the majority in the Supreme Court. Then we’ll (the part of the populace that isn’t crazy) still have to deal with a blatantly, activist chief justice, until he retires or dies, who’s currently only 59.

    I’m not sure how this works–maybe someone can enlighten me: does the chief justice get to decide what cases are heard in the court the same way Boner gets to decide what bills get to come up for a vote in the House, or is that a majority decision in the Supreme Court? If Roberts gets to decide, I’ll be using a walker before Citizens United gets reversed.

  3. With the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, has come a news media that is increasingly more conservative. Are those advertising dollars influencing what is reported by journalists? Has dark money bought the the 4th Estate?

  4. Actually the SCOTUS will have no say in the matter. It would have to be the Congress and the state houses
    Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the Constitution may be altered. Altering the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment or amendments and subsequent ratification.[1]

    Amendments may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification by either:
    Two-thirds (supermajority) of both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States Congress;

    By a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (at present 34) of the states.

    To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):
    The legislatures of three-fourths (at present 38) of the states;

  5. Yes, but in all reality, do you think that’s actually going to happen? Our elected officials can’t agree on what day it is–never mind having a super majority on what day it is. I think the Supreme Court has to reverse it’s own bad decision.

  6. No. Because ever since the Powell Memo came out in the 70’s we have been asleep at the wheel. Being that we are progressives we look at the better angels of other people and we were wrong. ALEC controls the states even blue states so it is what it is.

    The only thing that can save this nation is if QVC has a sale on guillotines

  7. djchefron, ALEC is a problem, but one that can be overcome. They are losing members, and influence. Then again Francois’s Used Guillotine Sales could also become the nation’s savior.

  8. Shamus, If we can get a Constitutional Amendment through both houses & 23rd of the states houses we as the american people can legally remove the dumb law. It’s a hard task but it could be done if we put pressure on our Congress person & 2 Senate reps we can do this! I have hope, we as a country need to take our government back.

  9. John, it is ALEC that is pushing for the Convention of States. Why do you think they (Koch bros) are spending so much money in each state’s local elections? They already own Ohio Governor John Kasich.

  10. I’m sure no constitutional scholar, but I just did a few searches; the Supreme Court can overturn a previous Supreme Court decision. I think that is a lot more plausible than thinking that this divided nation will ever ratify the constitution in our lifetimes.

  11. I’ve been describing this as the money machine for a couple of years, it works as Senator Franken describes. Only he missed a part. Congress does its part through tax cuts that starts the money machine. See, its an endless loop, tax cuts, rich have more to give, give more to get the court they need to complete the theft, more to congress to stack it and gerrymand the next house and senate, to get more…. tax cuts, and so on. Remember, they have to do this, lying and cheating is all they’re good at, they sure as eff don’t know anything about governing.

  12. “You’re right but before that can happen the catholic immoral mafia has to be replaced”

    Well, that’s what I said in my original post @ 3:56 PM.

  13. The problem is that it is not only Citizens United that has corrupted our political system with floods of money. There is also is revolving door lobbying where the regulators after leaving government join the regulated at huge salaries. We need a Congress that cares more about the Nation and less about themselves and their next reelection. Then just maybe they will regain the respect of the American People.

    My video, is now on YouTube. It is a political satire, entitled “Washington Money Talk”. Here is the link;

  14. The Dems always talk about the “Super Rich” but do not mention the groups that can also donate the same amount.
    Is it because they vote Dem?
    Groups like MoveOn & ThinkProgress and then there are the Unions whom all take money donated or coerced from individuals and give it to individual politicians for voting a certain way that is to their advantage.

    BTW, this is not anything new. The “Rich” and advocates has always been ones to gleam favors from the politicians by “buying” their way in.

    Look at what Warren Buffet has done. He is making a killing while Pres. Obama waits to decide on the Keystone Pipeline.

  15. This Supreme court will never change it’s course. NOT until they are no longer in control. They have an agenda and will continue until the control is once again in much better and smarter hands. This Supreme Court loves what it does, likes what they have achieved, has plans to place more control into unethical hands. If I were a liberal on this court, I would be ashamed to have my name mentioned in History along with the men who have done such damage to our country and Plan more.

  16. “Free speech” is no longer part of the American Way.

    $peech cost$. A lot. Big Busine$$, led by the Koch Brother$, can outspend everyone, anytime, anywhere. If you don’t have money, you have no ‘right’ to speech; just notice how the token liberals are shouted down by O’Reilly and everyone else on Faux New$.

    The Koch’$ are buying every local and $tate office they can in order to ensure gerrymandering and voter $uppre$$ion tactic$ will keep the Rep$ and $enator$ they choo$e will stay in po$ition$ of no power to do anything but what they are told.

  17. Franken KNOWS what he is talking about… right NOW. Currently, there is hundreds of thousands of dollars in koch-fueled ads (either anti-Franken or pro-mcfatten) flooding the airwaves. The ads for the Bermuda-incorporated investment banker (i.e. tax dodger) probably aren’t going to win the day in that market/state but these kinds of attacks could make a difference elsewhere. “Sold” is a good way to put it.

  18. That’s why the coming Nov. election is so important. If the GOP takes the senate Obama will have no chance to get someone NEEDED in the supreme court (should the opportunity come), and there will be little chance of overturning Citizens United.

  19. Mr. Shamus, I don’t think you understand how an amendment works. WHEN it is ratified by the 38 states, no ‘Citizens United’ types decisions can be made -ever again – by the Supreme Court – regardless of its political complexion.

    The future 28th Amendment to the Constitution will explicitly declare that only ‘human beings’ – American citizens are ‘natural persons,’ entitled to the guarantees and rights enumerated in the First Amendment – NOT legal fictions such as corporations, or any other NON-human entity.

  20. Just in case you didn’t know it, there is a genuine American citizen politician in your Senate. Senator Al Franken! Wish I could vote there.
    God bless our neighbor!

  21. No Anne. The media has been bought by big corporations. It is these corporations who are putting pressure on the media. This is why true journalism is dying in the US. Instead of dealing with journalists keeping an eye out for the people and keeping corporations honest, the corporations bought the media in order to control it.

  22. How many Democrat Congressmen have advocated for tax cuts for these rich donors to Democrats? Keep your eye on the ball Aztekman. Get your head out of…..the sand.

  23. Lets us bow our head in shame. Today 23 years ago we elevated a porn addict to the SCOTUS. Clarence Thomas and he has been fuking us ever since without the decency of giving us Vaseline.

  24. Future GOP debates should be between Charles Koch & Sheldon Adelson, as they own the GOP & should be more transparent in disclosing the party’s future policies!

  25. The only way Citizens United will be repealed is if the Supreme Court reverses its prior ruling.
    The last amendment (#27) took over 200 years to be ratified. The US will not survive if we have to wait for 2/3 of the states to ratify #28.

  26. That was one of my first thoughts, when the SC let it stand, that corporations, were the same as people. At the time, the government was locking away drug laundering people, for what the SC was about to let corporations do legally. Then, apparently, there is no one to really regulate the money and rightwing greed, being rightwing greed….it was going to happen.

    Funny, republicans can’t win one way…the resort to thug tactics to quell the tide into their favor. Getting really old.

  27. Is all I said was that a change in the make-up of the Supreme Court (from right leaning to left leaning), and then a reversal by that court of the Citizens United decision is a much more realistic possibility than thinking that this country, with the political climate that we live in, has the ability to amend the constitution. GET REAL!

  28. Sen. Ted Cruz says the comedy of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” is at risk and creator Lorne Michaels could be thrown in jail if a proposed Constitutional amendment on campaign finance is passed.
    “Congress would have the power to make it a criminal offense, Lorne Michaels could be put in jail under this amendment for making fun of any politician. That is extraordinary. It is breathtaking and it is dangerous,” the Texas Republican argued on the Senate floor on Tuesday, with a board of stills from the late-night sketch show displayed behind him.

    And the stupid continues.

  29. I take it then that Teddy boy was one of the 18 no’s? I guess that should have been obvious anyway. What a moron.

  30. Combine “money laundering” with Congress’s midnight vote for “insider trading” and you’ll see the stock portfolios skyrocket as they have for Virginia Foxx, R-NC.

  31. Money is not speech, corporations are not people. We the people need to be telling that to our Congress critters. I want public financing of all short and substantive campaigns. Our political debate is a joke. Low voter turnout, cynicism and lack of participation will kill (are killing)our democracy. A first step is overturning Citizens United and McCutcheon. If people tell their Reps to do it, in large numbers, it can happen.

  32. I remember watching the hearings. I had just cancelled my cable, and that was the only thing that I could get on TV with just the rabbit ears.

  33. Did Citizens United target an American citizen and his 16 year old son for assassination? Do they keep their own personal kill list? Did they invade Libya and cause the deaths of a reported 18,000 Libya civilians? Did they supply arms and millions of US$$$$$ to the rebels in Syria who have morphed into ISIS?

    NO. They did not. The present administration which Franken supported 96% did.

    A curse on both their houses!

  34. Now thats hilarious! One day you want all muslims killed, then when a muslim IS killed that had killed and plotted to kill Americans youi are all up in arms over it.

    Sorry, that one doesnt fly

    No, Obama does not have a personal kill list. Thats fox news for you

    NATO invaded Libya, and the right wing wanted libya invaded until Obama started it off with air power.

    No, the US doid not arm and give cash to ISIS. But John McCain wanted him to. You really need to check up on your news sources. Brietbarts brain is not where its at

    Stop being a hypocrite. BTW, did you notice Darrel Issa did not go after Obama killing the so called American who had killed Americans? Loser

  35. When did we invade Libya?

    verb: invade; 3rd person present: invades; past tense: invaded; past participle: invaded; gerund or present participle: invading

    (of an armed force or its commander) enter (a country or region) so as to subjugate or occupy it.

  36. An Alternative to Capitalism (since we cannot legislate morality)

    Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

    I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to my essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published in the OPEDNEWS:

    John Steinsvold

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
    Pogo quotation by Walt Kelly.

  37. We are at a crossroads in the history of the United States. Historians will document the reason “We, the People”, lost our democracy was because our Congress rigged the tax code in favor of the super-rich getting relentlessly richer and richer and on 1/21/2010, SCOTUS sealed our fate with the One Dollar = One Vote decision. The Republican party, which had become the American Quisling Party, was just a gaggle of slick sock puppets in expensive suits each jockeying for a place at the royal table of a couple of secretive Machiavellian megalomaniacs named Koch who could not be stopped and who bought control of 30 State Houses and the Legislative Branch of the US government in the November 2014 elections. From that position they had leveraging control over the Executive Branch by controlling funding. What followed was a “perfectly legal” step-by-step coup d’état blessed by five Supreme Court justices who had been secretly corrupted by the Koch Cabal. In September of 2014, Democrats w…

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