The Impacts of Citizens United v. FEC
Helena, Mont.–Yesterday's "Citizens United v FEC" ruling by the United States Supreme Court opened the gates for corporations and unions to use money from their general treasuries to advocate independently for or against federal candidates.
Voters will be familiar with the results of such independent expenditures—think of the television ads strongly attacking or promoting candidates. Independent campaigns—those not coordinated with candidates' campaigns—can influence elections.
The ruling has no effect on campaign limits already in place at the state and federal levels but may effectively overturn laws in 24 states that prohibit corporations from funding the advocation for or against state candidates.
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a quick look at elections in 2007 and 2008 shows that in the 22 states that prohibit corporations from giving to candidates, individuals contributed about half of the money raised by candidates and non-individuals provided less than one-fourth. In the 28 states that allow corporate giving, however, the reverse is true.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics collects and analyzes campaign contribution information on state-level candidates, political party committees, and ballot committees. Its free, searchable database of contributions, as well as the full text of the report <http://www.followthemoney.org/press/ReportView.phtml?r=414&em=78> is available online at FollowTheMoney.org.
Mike Wessler, Communications Specialist
National Institute on Money in State Politics
833 N. Last Chance Gulch, 2nd Floor
Helena, MT 59601