Since last week’s Supreme Court decision freeing corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence elections, there’s been a great deal of debate about what Congress, short of amending the Constitution, could do to prevent the nation’s big businesses from buying even more influence in Washington than they’ve already got.
Today, Yale law professors Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres offer a solution. Writing in The Washington Post, the campaign finance reformers propose a new statute to keep the financing restrictions in place for any companies doing business with the federal government (i.e., most of the country’s biggest corporations). Using the drug lobby as an illustration, they explain:
Federal contractors already are not allowed to “directly or indirectly . . . make any contribution of money or other things of value” to “any political party, committee, or candidate.” This provision arguably bars Big Pharma from launching a media campaign in favor of a candidate who supports its special deals, thereby “indirectly providing” the candidate something “of value.” But it doesn’t cover the case in which contractors threaten to spend millions to oppose senators and representatives who refuse their excessive demands.
There is a need, then, for a new statutory initiative: The same anti-corruption rationale may prohibit contractors from spending millions in favor of candidates requires a statutory prohibition on a negative advertising blitz.
It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine, for example, the drug industry going after Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who’s been pushing a proposal to empower states to negotiate pharmaceutical prices for their lowest-income seniors. (The prohibition on those negotiations has been a cash cow for the drug companies.)
Ackerman and Ayres predict that their proposal would withstand the scrutiny of even the conservative-leaning Supreme Court.
The Roberts court is skeptical — to put it mildly — of campaign finance restrictions. But it is still highly unlikely that the justices would strike down a law targeting federal contractors. All nine recognize that Congress may restrict free speech when there is a significant risk of corruption. That risk is obvious when corporate speakers are simultaneously doing business with the government.
Of course, with just 10 months to go before November’s midterms, Congress would have to act quickly — not something it’s exactly known for.
$1.3 Million for Brown
The GOP’s candidate in the Massachusetts special election raised more than one million dollars -- double the goal -- in a 24-hour moneybomb on the Ron Paul
$1.89 billion given to states to fight HIV
The federal government Monday announced more than $1.89 billion in funding to states to fight the HIV epidemic with access to care and with more cash for the failing AIDS Drug Assistance Program. According to an HHS press release , $813 million of that money will go directly to the ADAP programming. An additional $8,386,340 will be issued as a supplement to 36 states and territories currently facing a litany of unmet needs and access issues.
$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds
Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal
1. Brian Schweitzer
As governor of Montana, Schweitzer doesn’t represent one of the most highly populated, high-profile electoral states in the country. But this
1 Brigade and 1 Battalion
ISTANBUL – It’s 10 p.m. in the lowest level of the Istanbul airport. In 20 minutes I’ll be allowed to board my plane to Kabul, bringing me to the
$1 Million for Toomey
Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president and leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, has announced a $1 million haul in the
1. Lindsey Graham
Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) is typically regarded as a reliable vote for his party, but he took the bold step of breaking with his fellow Republicans to join Kerry
#1 in Conspiracy Theories
Andrew Young’s tell-all biography of John Edwards, hitting shelves next week, is surging in one Amazon.com category in particular. #1 in Conspiracy
Ten Loopholes That Can’t Make It Into FinReg
Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, wrote a blog post that lists the loopholes lobbyists most want inserted into Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.)
Bachmann uncomfortable over earmarks ban
Republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a corner with their portrayal of earmarks as wasteful spending, as many of them have backed a moratorium on
Troubled mine holds hope for U.S. rare earth industry
China currently controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production. The Mountain Pass Mine could change that -- if it can overcome serious environmental concerns.