February 11th, 2010
12:17 PM ET
5 years ago

Democrats move to counter high court campaign finance ruling

Washington (CNN) - Top congressional Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday that would ban foreign-controlled companies and firms receiving either government contracts or federal bailout funds from spending money on U.S. elections.

The bill, slated to be officially introduced later this month, also would require the head of any corporation running a political ad to appear in the commercial to say that he or she "approves this message" - just as candidates themselves do today.

The measure is designed to mitigate the impact of last month's controversial Supreme Court campaign finance ruling, which overturned a long-standing ban on corporations and unions using their treasury funds to run presidential and congressional election ads.

The 5-4 decision - a victory for the high court's conservative majority - also rejected a prohibition on companies and unions running campaign ads 30 days before a primary election or 60 days prior to a general election.


Most GOP leaders have praised the ruling as an affirmation of First Amendment free speech rights. Democrats, however, have slammed the decision as a win for traditionally Republican-leaning corporate interests. President Barack Obama has said the ruling gave "a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics" and called for legislation curbing its impact.

On Thursday, one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, called the ruling a "corrosive" and "infuriating decision."

The court "inexplicably opened up the floodgates to much greater special interest influence than we have ever seen before," he said.

Among other things, the bill introduced by Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland would require:

– The names of the top five contributors to any organization created for political purposes that purchases advertising to be listed at the end of the ad;

– The top funder of any political advertisement to record a separate "stand-by-your-ad" disclaimer;

– Certain business and unions to establish "political activities" accounts - monitored by the Federal Election Commission - for the purpose of receiving and spending political funds;

– Any political expenditure made by a company to be disclosed within 24 hours on the company's Web site;

– Any political expenditure made by a company to be disclosed to shareholders on a regular basis;

– A ban on corporations and unions coordinating election ads with federal campaigns if those ads promote or oppose a specific candidate.

Foreign companies would be defined in the bill as those with a foreign ownership of 20 percent or more, or those in which a majority of the board of directors is composed of non-U.S. citizens.

In addition, a company would be defined as foreign if its U.S. operations, or its decision-making regarding political activities, is directed by a foreign entity, including a foreign government.


Filed under: Democrats • Supreme Court
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Paul from Phoenix

    Hey hypocrits, How much money did George Soros contribute to the Democrat cause in the last election cycle?

    February 11, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Jenn, Philadelphia

    It's already illegal for foreign-owned American based companies to donate to elections. Just like the democrats to pass a law that is redundant. Maybe they should look at closing some of the loopholes that exist that allow PACs to spend outrageous amounts of money. Oh, they can't do that, then the union money and law firm money they rely on would disappear.

    February 11, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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