From The Archives: Campaign Financing

Jan 23, 2015

This week saw the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s "Citizens United" decision. And with the anniversary of “Granny D” day (1/25/12) tomorrow, it seems an appropriate time to take stock.

This week, NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered each examined the repercussions since the Citizens United ruling, and NHPR’s Rick Ganley spoke with Open Democracy Executive Director Daniel Weeks about the New Hampshire Rebellion, an organization that took up the torch from Doris “Granny D” Haddock.

So this week we pulled out of the archives a discussion about the SCOTUS decision on NHPR’s The Exchange that was broadcast shortly after the ruling was released in 2010.

Quick Primer

The justices – by a 5 to 4 majority – relaxed certain rules on how much companies, nonprofits and unions can spend on so-called “advocacy ads.” These are the messages you see all over television in the final days of an election – funded by groups outside a campaign.

The case originated from a conservative advocacy group called “Citizens United” which had wanted to distribute an anti-Hillary Clinton movie during the 2008 presidential primary,  but was told it could not, under current campaign finance law. The dispute went to SCOTUS, and “Citizens United” won.  

Joining Laura to discuss the decision was John Samples, Director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute; and Weeks, then President of Americans for Campaign Reform.

John Samples:

“One simple change: people could always run ads about politics and about the issues, now they can run ads around primaries and around general elections that mention a candidate for federal office. That is what McCain/Feingold made illegal and that was the part of McCain/Feingold that was struck down.”

Dan Weeks:

"The status quo before Citizens United was unsatisfactory. We need a really fundamental shift in our campaign finance laws."