This article decries how the Walker recall election actually was far more effected by union money coming into help Walker’s opponent than corporate money helped Walker. I like this story because not only does it support my narrative but it also demonstrates a question I’ve been asking, sometimes here, as to how this CU decision really isn’t to blame for much of the spending we are now seeing.
In the wake of Wisconsin’s recall election, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and other commentators disappointed with the result are not blaming the electorate or the apparent success and popularity of Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms. Instead, they are singling out the Supreme Court’s 2010 campaign-finance decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, as the reason for Mr. Walker’s 7-1 spending advantage.
Citizens United held that associations of Americans, including corporations and labor unions, have a First Amendment right to make independent expenditures in support or opposition to candidates for public office.
In a sense, Citizens United did have an important effect on the Wisconsin election. But the effect was almost exactly the opposite of what many pundits imply.
Labor unions poured money into the state to recall Mr. Walker. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the NEA (National Education Association), the nation’s largest teachers union, spent at least $1 million. Its smaller union rival, the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), spent an additional $350,000. Two other unions, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union, which has more than one million government workers) and Afscme (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), spent another $2 million. Little or none of these independent expenditures endorsing a candidate would have been legal under federal law before Citizens United.
By contrast, the large spenders on behalf of Mr. Walker were mostly individuals. According to the Center for Public Integrity, these included Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s wealthiest businesswoman, who spent over half a million dollars on his behalf; Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder, who spent almost half a million; and well-known political contributors such as casino operator Sheldon Adelson and former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, who kicked in a quarter-million dollars each. Businessman David Koch gave $1 million to the Republic Governors Association, which spent $4 million on the Wisconsin race.
These donations have nothing to do with Citizens United. Individuals have been free to make unlimited independent expenditures in support of candidates since the Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976).
So where are we really seeing the effects of the CU decision? Question two is if we really get the corporate/union money out of politics, are the Democratics ready to lose the life line of money which has saved their asses all these years. I don’t think so and this is a reason why we haven’t seen anything from either party trying to close this off.