February 11th, 2010
12:17 PM ET
12 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. Tram

    This ruling was every bit as bad as the Imminent Domain ruling the Supreme Court came down with.

    In a way, it's even worse than when the Supreme Court "selected" Bush as the president even though he wasn't elected president.

    What happened to the Supreme Court? I know Bush didn't believe in the Constitution and thought it was worthless and just a piece of parchment signed by old guys in white wigs, but did the Supreme Court become accustomed to dismissing the basic rights of the people of this country in the 8 years we were under the Bush dictatorship? Did the Supreme Court forget what its job was? Did the Bush years destroy jurisprudence in America?

    Time for the American people to protest the Supreme Court and get new justices if that's the case.

    February 11, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Danny

    I read in the paper yesterday that a small company is running for public office now that corporations have been afforded the same rights as American citizens. The 2 guys that own it say that this is the next logical step using the Supreme Court's logic in their decision. I know it's just a publicity stunt to draw attention to the issue but really can this be far behind?

    February 11, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Those conservative scumbags in the supreme court (lower case letters only) have put our country back 100 years. I would think that they would have been above kissing up to the big money corporations.

    February 11, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Mike Pittsburgh

    Whether one likes the decision or not that allows corporations to throw more money into the political advertising pot, first amendment rights apply to corporations as well. Please show me where the Constition that "has been destroyed" by this decision precludes this right.. I do not like the decision, but I think it is the legally correct one.

    February 11, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Well gee......the democrats are actually going to do something?

    February 11, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. stevegee

    The liberals are all upset because now campaigns will be fair - with no one-sided limits on freedom of speech.

    The conservative movement - made up of patriotic, individual American citizens - will be able to compete with the Marxist Party (aka Democrats) and its Daddy Warbucks (aka George Soros).

    Conservative candidates are going to win big in November!

    February 11, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Aaron

    Thank goodness there is a movement against this crazy Supreme Court decision. To Mike1952: yes you have made a bad assumption. Unfortunately too many people in this country are affected by television ads. Most people don't pay attention to where the information is coming from and too many will believe pratically anything they hear, especially if it's what they want to hear. This Supreme Court ruling will be a detriment to our nation. This nation was founded on the principles of "rule by the people," not rule by the corporations. In fact, corporations were illegal in this country until the 1820's. Welcome to the United Corporations of America, oh and don't forget to vote for the Senator from Exxon running for president.

    February 11, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. james

    Candidates must appear in their ads because the ad directly discusses them and they are public figures. Coropration CEOs are not - repeat, NOT - public figures and the ads won't directly discuss them. UNCONSTITUTIONAL, but thanks for playing. Try again, libbies.

    February 11, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Rickster

    Why didn't they just make ALL foreign campaign contributions against the law? Oh wait! That would eliminate millions of Clinton campaign donation dollars.

    February 11, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. marion/Alabama

    Yea I guess the Auto industry is not a big Corporation?Or the Drug Companies who fund the Democrats,Or the Wall Street Banks,Or the big Insurance companies like AIG,who fund campaigns,for Dimocrats. Too bad they will be able to run ads outing a canadiates dirty little secrets up to the day of the election,and not have to stop 60 days prior,That is why the court over turned the law,it is called freedom of speech.

    February 11, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Obama Victim

    someone please correct me if I am wrong......but I believe companys pay taxes?? should they not be allowed to speak?? seems I remember something about "taxation without representation"???

    February 11, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    I would bet they would allow from the most corrupt organizations in America, their friends and heavy financial supporters the unions. Amazing how many of the libertards beleived Obozo when he lied about this in the state of the union, but then he lies about everything, that is how he got elected. He and Hugo Chavez are so similar, if you don't like a legal ruling, kill the judges.

    February 11, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Mark

    To add to the list of outrageous earmarks in Obama's fiscal 2011 budget, ACORN, the embezzlement-prone, voter-registration-fraud-plagued, leftist community organizing group, is slated to receive nearly $4 billion from a taxpayer-funded slush fund.

    The money will come from the Community Development Block Grant, one of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's longest-running programs. The HUD Web site cryptically defines the grant's purpose as providing "communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs," not a reassuring description given the group's recent past history of aiding the community through gratuitous missappropriation of funds.

    February 11, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Alfalfa

    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.
    _______________________________________________________
    Can you imagine if congressional Democrats banned private citizen's receiving federal entitlement checks or other forms of social welfare from voting? My God man, there wouldn't be any Democrats left!

    February 11, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. james

    Oh, you CNN libs. Just can't handle a Supreme Court ruling that follows the Constitution, can you?

    Bottom line here is the Constitution - you know, that document we build our society around, the one you libs hate, you know it - says "Congress shall make no law abridging free speech." It doesn't say "except for corporations." Congress shall make NO LAW. NONE - NADA - NYET - BUPKUS. No law abridging free speech.

    Oh, and you folks whining about foreign corporations, the US Constitution is for Americans, not all people. Non-US citizens may not make campaign contributions, and non-US companies likewise may not make contributions.

    February 11, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Bedtime for Obonzo

    This is grandstanding. It's already illegal for foreign corporations to contribute to campaigns or run ads endorsing candidates. Read the Supreme Court's opinion if you don't believe me.

    February 11, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. A. Goodwin

    @ Sure: Sounds like the democrats can't stand competition. Wonder what foreign countries the money flowed in from during the obama campaign? sure was a lot of it that came in quickly.
    ___________________________________

    Sad part is that the competition is not only for Dems – but every single human being who resides in the USA – including Republican's. What this does is essentially pit corporations against the average joe. Who do you think wins in this case – you or the corporations who can pump millions into someones political campaign?

    I would also like to raise to your attention that Obama did not receive funds through any shady campaign contrabutions. He has to release ALL of that info. as public record. Money came in quickly to him because people believe in him and his cause. If you look back at the campaigns...thousands would show up for Obama and mere hundreds for McCain. The fact of the matter is that the little people of America are the ones who donated to his campaign.

    You would have known that if you actually did a little research instead of coming on here and LYING or spreading and UNTRUE lie.

    Leave it to a republican to lie.

    February 11, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Sue

    Obama and the Democrats have to be careful in regard to attacking businesses again.

    After all, look at the flip-flop Obama has done regarding Wall Street Bonuses.

    Why did Obama flip-flop regarding Wall Street Bonuses??? Obama flip-flopped because he-–and the rest of the Democrats--just figured out that they are going to NEED financial donations for the upcoming elections.

    Unfortunately for Obama and the Democrats-–the damage is already done. In regard to businesses and business owners, you are now viewed as the "enemy".

    February 11, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Paul H

    Can we also stop paying for abortions over sea's as well?

    February 11, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Marc

    Mike1952 – Where have you been for the past 20 years? No wauit, make that 40. What the SCOTUS was not 'Uphold the 1st Ammendment', they simply turned the politic game in the USA into a 'anything for a buck more' game.

    February 11, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    Now if we could just get the Dems to include Big Unions and others like SEIU and ACORN in their little legislation, things will be good! Lets also include a ban on lobbyists from serving in the administration, after all we were promised! If that happened there may be one or two people left! Oh well! Didn't hurt to ask!
    I thought the focus was now on jobs!!! What happened????

    February 11, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. PREDICTA

    I guess that the money the dems put aside for campaigns in November from the first stimulus bill won't give them the advantage they had planned on now that the SC has given the green light to corporations to do the same thing.

    February 11, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. Tony in Maine

    That 41 vote majority the Party of No has will flush this down the toilet – along with everything else from the 59 vote minority party.

    February 11, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    I rarely agree with Chuck Schumer on much of anything, but I do on this proposal. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, his proposals doesn't go far enough–I'd ban contributions from any corporation, foreign or domestic, that does business of any kind with the government. Anything else is a conflict of interest waiting to happen.

    Further–and Schumer would never buy this–I'd ban contributions from public-employee unions like AFSCME and the SEIU. That's also a conflict of interest.

    February 11, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The Supreme Court ruling may not be reversed but we the people can vote NO to the Republican Party who are sold out to foreign companies. The Revolution against the Republican Party starts now.

    February 11, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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