A crippling blow could be dealt to Citizens United as legislatures in four states are debating bills that would require shareholders to approve corporate political spending.
According to The Center For Public Integrity:
Lawmakers in at least four states are considering a back-door way to dampen corporate political spending: Require shareholders to approve it.
State legislators in Maine, Maryland, New York and New Jersey have introduced bills that demand that a majority of shareholders approve corporate gifts to political committees or candidates.
“The whole thesis of Citizens United is that the companies are just speaking for the shareholders,” said state Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who is sponsoring the bill in Maryland. “If this is going to be anything more than a cynical fiction, then state legislatures need to act to make it real.”
Raskin has received interest from a dozen legislators in other parts of the country who are interested in his bill. Huge corporations are big spenders in elections at all levels, but that all could change if corporations would have to get approval of their shareholders before they could spend a dime.
Currently, there is no accountability for corporate dark money political spending. Corporations can ignore their shareholders at will. If a corporation had to get approval from their shareholders before they spent millions of dollars on an election, the whole process would change.
Decision makers would have to justify their political spending. Shareholders would have to sign off on it. The whole process of getting shareholder approval would lead to information becoming public that mostly politically active corporations would not like their customers to know.
Details about the hidden dark money that big corporations don’t want their customers to know about would be exposed, and a backlash would be inevitable. Citizens United has allowed corporations to hide their Republican political advocacy through dark money contributions. Some of the nation’s biggest corporations have been funding Republican dark money efforts.
The bill being discussed in the states is a nifty backdoor effort to stop Citizens United. Shareholders deserve a say in how a company spends their money. The state level legislation doesn;t conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision, but it would have a damaging impact on the flow of corporate money into Republican campaign coffers.
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