After Montana: What’s Next for Campaign Finance Reform?

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The Supreme Court’s summary decision to throw out the 100-year-old Montana ban on corporate donations in political campaigns signaled an end to any hope that the justices might reconsider their Citizens United decision.

Most Citizens United opponents admitted they weren’t surprised by the decision, but many expressed disappointment in the dissenting argument, which was not as strong as some had expected it would be. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D) and Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger (R) recorded a video response to the decision on Monday.


So what next?

Jeff Clements, the director of Free Speech for the People, says the coalition fighting Citizens United is committed to a “multi-pronged strategy” that involves several short- and long-term campaigns aimed at “putting American voters back in the drivers seat” of our democracy.

Here are some of the ways in which they are working to achieve that.

  1. Constitutional Amendment: Over 100 cities and towns across the country have proposed or already passed resolutions calling for an amendment to the Constitution that will essentially overturn Citizens United. Several senators, including Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) have introduced different amendments all aimed at getting corporate money out of politics. Senators are scheduled to discuss the various proposals on July 17, 2012.

  3. DISCLOSE Act: Although the bill is considered a longshot, the disclosure legislation currently under consideration in Congress has been getting some attention of late — not all of the positive variety, which could indicate some concerns on the right. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted the act in a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute earlier this month. The Sunlight Foundation defended the bill in its blog addressing McConnell’s speech point by point.

  5. Shareholder Disclosure Rules: The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a rule requiring corporations to fully disclose all political donations to their shareholders. Currently, shareholders can submit requests for political donation information to the companies they invest in. According to The Washington Post, 101 companies have already “agreed to disclosure and board oversight of their political donations.” At an event in Washington in February, SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar said that “investors are not receiving adequate disclosure, and as the investor’s advocate, the commission should act swiftly to rectify the situation.”

  7. Public Financing Programs: New York City’s Brennan Center for Justice recently completed a study of that city’s small donation program which matches the first $175 a citizen donates to a political candidate by a 6-to-1 ratio, if the candidate participates in the program. New York State is considering implementing a similar system statewide.

Take Action

If you're interested in learning more about amendment campaigns, visit the United for the People website and the following pages.

If you want to show your support for the DISCLOSE Act, visit the "We Want the DISCLOSE Act" website where they are collecting signatures. Over 87,000 people have signed their petition.

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