Supreme Corruption: Schneiderman Can’t Stop Mega-Expansion of Citizens United
Though you probably missed it, the Supreme Court’s much anticipated ruling on Obamacare overshadowed Montana’s challenge to Citizens United, just a few weeks prior. On June 25, for the first time, the court permitted unlimited, anonymous spending in state and local races of any size, overriding your states’ sovereignty to prevent corruption.
New York’s Attorney General knew what was at stake last Spring, organizing dozens of states in protest. Though he was already understaffed and denied funding by Congress to shore up criminal cases against the biggest banks on Wall Street, Eric Schneiderman knew the disease of money in US politics was about to get much worse – over 50 times worse – as “Son ofCitizens United” made its way to the Roberts Court.
Without media coverage, Schneiderman couldn’t do much so our campaign finance integrity problem did in fact get exponentially worse.
In dismissing Montana’s Supreme Court ruling without even hearing oral arguments, the SCOTUS trashed that state’s 1912 anti-corruption law, expanding Citizens United fractally so it now affects every campaign in the land, down to local school board elections.
Montana urged the court to reconsider it’s original ruling, compiling evidence to disprove the claim that there was no proof of corruption, or even the appearance of corruption found, when corporations fund campaigns. Montana sought to assert it’s right to regulate the state and local races Citizens United never addressed when it struck down federal limits in McCain-Feingold (also known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act).
With the court due to rule on the Montana challenge by the end of June, Schneiderman by late May had notified the states the court was seeking to annul many of their legal precedents, overriding longstanding state laws that prevent outside corporations from coming into a state and outspending it’s people during elections.
Leading twenty one state AGs, Schneiderman submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing that races on the state and local level are markedly different from high-profile federal elections, with a hundred years of recorded evidence to show how corporate cash has perverted outcomes from coast to coast. This reinforced the argument brought by Montana, whose history is scarred by corruption going back to merciless mineral exploitation, claim jumping and frontier justice meted out by robber barons outside Montana’s borders.
Montana’s Corruption Shocks America to Core
Montana’s elections were so blatantly bought and owned that Mark Twain wrote in 1907 about mining monopolies openly financing the campaigns of “Copper King” William Clark:
“He is said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment. By his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell.”
Clark, who also owned a newspaper is said to have offered ten thousand dollars to any state legislator to pick him in Montana’s race for senator. It worked, but the US Senate refused to seat Clark because of the audacity of the bribes. Long after Clark famously retorted “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale”, his example led to passage of the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution, mandating direct election by the people instead of appointment by state legislature.
Because Clark’s power play was technically not illegal, Montana also passed an anti-corruption law that had protected it’s election from corporate plunder until now. Now, there is no limit on corporate spending during Montana’s elections, meaning out-of-state interests can now return to exploit their natural resources.
Schneiderman tried to prevent this, entering into the record a pointed rebuttal of the original January 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling which introduced details from the “factual, actual record”.