Corporate Accountability

Move to counter ruling on campaign funding


Democratic lawmakers were “hashing out” the final details on Thursday of legislation that could bar a broad swathe of companies from bankrolling campaign adverts after President Barack Obama said a recent Supreme Court ruling would “open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign companies” to spend without limits in US elections.

While five of the justices in attendance sat stone-faced as Mr Obama made the rare jab at the court during the State of the Union address, the words visibly irked one of the court’s conservative members. Samuel Alito looked more like a Republican member of Congress than a sitting justice on the Supreme Court as he shook his head in disagreement and seemed to mouth the words “not true”.

The landmark 5-4 decision reversed rules that have prohibited companies from dipping into their own treasuries to buy television advertisements that directly supported or opposed a political candidate.

Two leading Democrats – Chris Van Hollen in the House and Chuck Schumer in the Senate – have said they are intent on passing legislation to “mitigate the fallout” of the ruling.

. . .


Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the judiciary committee, attacked the decision in the Senate. Citing research by the Constitutional Accountability Centre, he pointed out that if ExxonMobil diverted only 2 per cent of the $45bn in profits it generated in 2008, this “one company could have outspent both presidential candidates [in] the 2008 election”.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

To view this article in its entirety please visit the Financial Times website.

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