Campaign Finance: Supreme Court Declines Case on Contributions by Corporations

Article excerpt

The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up a case testing whether a century-long ban on political contributions to candidates from corporations violates corporations freedom of speech.

The action came without comment by the justices.

At issue in the case was a section of federal election law that permits contributions of up to $2,500 from individuals, partnerships, and limited liability companies. But campaign-finance laws ban the same amount when coming from a corporate treasury.

The ban on corporate contributions to candidates has been in effect since 1907.

The case, Danielczyk v. United States (12-579), arose in the wake of the high courts controversial 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled under the First Amendment to spend unlimited corporate money when making independent political expenditures during election season. The justices struck down a ban on such expenditures, saying that corporations enjoy free-speech rights just as individuals do.

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Critics say the ruling opened the floodgates to independent expenditures by advocacy groups organized as corporations, drowning federal elections in massive amounts of corporate money that has funded a blitz of independent political advertisements.

In Danielczyk v. US, lawyers had sought to extend the Citizens United decision to lift a ban on corporate contributions to candidates.

The issue arose in a case filed against two corporate officers who allegedly sought to channel funds from their company to support Hillary Rodham Clinton during both her reelection campaign in the Senate and her unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

William Danielczyk and Eugene Biagi were officers of Galen Capital Group and Galen Capital Corp., both of Nevada. According to briefs in the case, the men hosted fundraisers for Mrs. Clinton in 2006 and 2007.

Mr. Danielczyk asked his employees to attend the fundraisers and assured them that they would be reimbursed for the amounts they contributed to the Clinton campaign, according to the indictment. …