Big Business, Big Influence

By Davis, Charles N. | Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Big Business, Big Influence


Davis, Charles N., Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal


To keep their watchdog teeth sharp, journalists need to stay connected with the latest news and trends about public records and open meetings at the federal, state and local levels.

Supreme Court case fuels need for transparency in donations, lobbying

Outraged by the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Citizens United! Most journalists, already quite convinced of the linkage between money and corruption in politics, reacted with dismay to the opinion in what will forever be known as the "Hillary: The Movie" case.

At issue in Citizens United was whether federal campaign finance laws apply to a critical film about U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton intended to be shown in theaters and on demand to cable subscribers. After hearing initial arguments, the court ordered re-argument, to focus on the constitutionality of limiting corporations' independent spending during campaigns for the presidency and Congress.

The court held 5-4 that restrictions on independent corporate expenditures in political campaigns are unconstitutional, overruling key parts of campaign finance precedents, upending an area of the law in the process.

It's important to note, however, what the court left alone, and why. The court upheld the disclosure requirements in McCainFeingold by an 8-1 margin (with Justice Thomas dissenting). They require that if a political ad is not authorized by a candidate or a political committee, the broadcast of the ad must say who is responsible for its content, plus the name and address of the group behind the ad.

Citizens United did not knock down the ban on corporations giving money directly to candidates or political parties. Nor did it open the door for corporate money to flow to parties or candidates beyond current contribution limits. Citizens United deals only with "independent expenditures," which by definition are not coordinated with parties or candidates.

Citizens United, then, ends bans on corporate spending for independent ads that contain statements expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate, and does little else.

The court's reasoning rested at least in part on its belief in transparency as an agent of accountability in political life, and it seemed quite convinced that sort of scrutiny already is taking place on a grand scale.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy states: "The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages."

Not so fast, I'd say. We have a lot of work to do if we are to provide the sort of openness the court already thinks exists.

As Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation noted in an excellent blog post on the subject, there are more than 13,000 registered lobbyists working in Washington to influence our elected officials and government employees. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Big Business, Big Influence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.